Flannel: Open Newer FLA Files

On a few occasions, I’ve had to open Flash CS5.5 files on a machine with CS5. Since the FLA format is now XML- and ZIP-based, it’s relatively easy to unzip the package, open a file, and set the version back so that the file can be opened in Flash CS5. It does, however, take time. So I decided to make this process into an easy-to-use desktop application.


Just drag and drop a Flash CS5.5 (or CS6, or CC) FLA file onto Flannel and it will make a copy and append _CS5 to the file name. That file can be opened in Flash CS5 (or later). Conversion for CS4 is a little trickier, since several new elements were added for CS5, but I’m working on it.


You can install Flannel using the badge below.

[airbadge] Flannel, http://ajarproductions.com/go/?getFlannel, 1.0.0, http://ajarproductions.com/software/flannel/images/badgeIMG.png [/airbadge]

Or you can download the file directly Flannel.air (Adobe AIR is required).

Flannel is available at no cost, but donations are welcome.

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  1. Justin says:

    Hi Si, in some cases it is as simple as a single variable (of the top of my head, I think it’s xflVersion or something similar). I may have removed a few settings in the XFL that were not available in the previous versions as well, but mostly it’s that version variable.

  2. Mike Milo says:

    I was wondering if there was any plans to allow this to convert a cs5 flash file into CS3 file? ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Darrin says:

    Hi, I was wondering if you were going to make a version that would take a CS5 and convert it to a Flash 2 file and complete website in HTML, with animated gifs, a donation page, and cross-platform browser capability. That would be AWESOME.

    Anyway, thanks for a great tool. It is a life saver…

  4. Justin says:

    Thanks for your comments, Darrin and Mike!

    @Mike, no plans for CS3 conversion. I still work in CS3 most of the time, so I know how helpful it would be, but CS3 uses a completely different (and closed) file format.

  5. Mike says:

    Thanks Justin! I totally understand… I’ve begun to work in CS5 as it’s just easier albeit not as good in my opinion. As an aside, I run a website called http://www.animationinsider.com that interviews animation people across the globe and I’d like to interview you guys. We’ve got almost 700 interviews and counting. I only interview individuals so if you or any of your other principals would be interested let me know.

  6. Lmaster says:

    Simple and efficient. thank you very much.

  7. Justin says:

    You bet! Thanks for the comment, Lmaster!

  8. Bernd says:

    Thank you very much;; it works perfectly well!!!!

  9. JJs says:

    Hi Ajar Production, I really appreaciate of your product. Thank you.
    It’s very helpful and useful!!

  10. Justin says:

    Thanks for your comment, JJs!

  11. ben says:

    Hi, this is awesome! Will this work saving from cs6 to cs5.5?

  12. Justin says:

    Hi Ben, thanks! Yes, drag the CS6 onto Flannel, then open the CS5 file in Flash Pro CS5.5.

  13. cdk says:

    Thanks !!! gr8 its superb

  14. Justin says:

    Glad to hear it, cdk!

  15. Evgeniy says:

    Thank you very much! The tool is fantastic! Do you plan to make a command line version? It should be very useful for batch processing. Actually I need it. Thank you once again!

  16. Justin says:

    Hi Evgeniy,
    Thanks for your comment! A command line version is an interesting idea! Not sure when we could get to it, but I’ll keep it mind.

  17. Sonali says:

    I want to convert InDesign CS5.5 to CS5 ASAP.
    Any idea??
    Please email.

  18. Justin says:

    Hi Sonali,
    I don’t know of a tool (other than InDesign) that can do this. Best bet is to find someone you know who has InDesign CS5.5 that can save it back for you.

  19. Dadam says:

    This is brilliant! I had to finish some CS5.5 animation I made at work with my home computer that has CS5, you saved me. Thank you so much!

  20. Justin says:

    Glad to hear it, Dadam! Thanks for your comment!

  21. pallzoltan says:

    Great tool, thank you!

  22. Justin says:

    Thanks, pallzoltan!

  23. Michelle says:

    Oh my Gosh! Thank u so much ๐Ÿ™‚
    You’re a big help.
    Thanks again

  24. Gustavo says:

    Great Man! thanks a lot!

  25. Justin says:

    Thanks for the comments, Michelle and Gustavo!

    Happy to help!

  26. Cihangir says:

    You are an amazing person i have ever seen in my life ๐Ÿ˜€

  27. a b says:

    thanks a lot, you will never know how much you saved me with this

  28. Justin says:

    Glad to hear it, a b!

    Thanks for your comments, Cihangir!

  29. Julien says:

    Hi! Is it possible to NOT have the “_CS5” suffix and create a new folder instead?

  30. Justin says:

    Hi Julien,
    I may be able to add that to a future version, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to make that update.

  31. Habib says:

    life saver! thanks a lot!

  32. Justin says:

    Glad to hear it, Habib!

  33. Thank you guy says:


    Thank you!

  34. Justin says:

    Thanks for your comment, Thank you guy!

  35. Erik says:

    Didnยดt work for me with CS6 to CS5. What was that about unzipping, open and converting to older version? Would like to try that.

  36. Justin says:

    Hi Erik, that’s exactly what Flannel does. If the file fails to open, it may be because some property in the file is not backwards compatible. If you’d like to replicate what Flannel does manually you can unzip, look for DOMDocument.xml, and edit the xflVersion attribute.

  37. mastura says:

    this is awesome. my work loads are becoming a bit smooth right now thank you for this.

  38. Si says:

    Hey Justin, is it possible to knock back from CS5 to CS4?

    You mentioned in the opening paragraph that it’s relatively simple to open up files and do this manually even though it’s time consuming… would there be a way to take an .fla file and bust it down to CS4 or even CS3, roll back several generations?

    I work exclusively in CS3 (just can’t stand or run 4, 5 or 6) but i was hoping to avoid installing every single incarnation of the program on my poor old dell machine.

  39. Justin says:

    Hi Si,

    CS4 is able to read XFL (the XML-based FLA format), so it’s possible with some modifications (though it’s much trickier than CS5), but CS3 is the old binary format and that’s a completely different beast.

  40. sI says:

    Good stuff, thanks Justin!

  41. TP says:

    This errors when trying to open the exported CS5 file, when trying to downgrade from CS6 to CS5. Have tried on several windows machines and one OSX machine. Any news on an updated version of the tool?

    1. Justin says:

      Hi TP,

      It maybe that some feature(s) that is unsupported by CS5 has to be cleared out of the file. I don’t have any near-term updates planned, but if you want to email (support at our domain name) us your file and the list of errors, we’ll try to look into them at some point.

  42. Rebecca W. says:

    Thank you for creating this, it is very helpful. I have full Flash CS6, but I was using the trial for CC to animate some stuff and forgot to export so I could use the .flas in CS6 before it expired. This was a lifesaver; I had a commission I was working on, and now I can resume my work!
    Again, thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    Oh, but I do have a question: Is it possible to send it to CS6 instead of CS5? it’s absolutely fine if it’s not implemented or not possible, I was just wondering ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Justin says:

      Hi Rebecca, Glad you found Flannel helpful. The files produced by Flannel can be opened by any version of Flash Pro CS5 or later.

  43. Jay says:

    Hey love flannel but recently I used Flash CC for a school project and I need to export it to be able to open in CS5 and I have a friend with CS5 who says it isn’t working :/ Any reasons as to why this could be?

    1. Justin says:

      Hi Jay,
      It may be that some unsupported feature is in the file. I was going to suggest that you use CC to save back to CS6, then run Flannel, but in looking at CC, I was surprised to find there was NO save back option (even to one version back).

      If you want to email us the file (support [at] ajarproductions [dot] com), we may be able to use it to improve Flannel, but it’s probably not something we can address very soon.

      1. Gurbinder says:

        I have an assignment due right now and I’m sitting in this class replying to your comment. Any way you figure out a solution to this problem yet, as I am also having the same problem.

      2. Justin says:

        Even if I had a test file to work with, it would probably take weeks to resolve.

  44. chaitali says:

    Thank you for amazing tool.

    1. Justin says:

      You’re welcome, chaitali!

  45. Ross Stewart says:

    Fantastic tool!

    This is a bit of an ask, but are there any plans to convert CS5 / CS6 into the latest 2015/2016 version (Flash Pro CC) ? I know switching from Actionscript 2 to 3 is no mean feat!

    1. Justin says:

      Hi Ross,

      Thanks! CC support is unlikely at this time, but we haven’t ruled it out.

  46. Brooks says:

    Holy Crap YOU FREAKIN ROCK!! This is so clutch!!!

    1. Justin says:

      Thanks, Brooks! So glad to help. ๐Ÿ™‚

      You might want to peruse the site and see if we have anything else that can help you.

  47. CJC says:

    This is such a wonderful piece of software, but I really need it to convert cs5 to cs4. You mentioned in previous posts that it could be done but that it was difficult. Could you advise me on how it can be done please?

    Thank you

    1. Justin says:

      Hi CJC,
      Here are the steps:

      1. (Rename to .zip, if needed and) Unzip .fla file
      2. Edit the XML file(s) inside โ€” this typically involves changing the version number and removing settings/features that weren’t supported in the target version.
      3. Re-zip and open with Flash Pro. Typically you’ll get an error message. Copy that to a text file for reference.
      4. Repeat steps 1-3. Use the info from step 3 to help you figure out what to remove/change in step 2.
      5. Eventually the file should open, but it may take many iterations to remove all of the unsupported content.

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