What is the HTML5 Vs Flash issue and how does it affect us

HTML5 Vs Flash
HTML is a language you code your web pages in. Not much has happened around HTML till now. In the last few years, web standard organizations and companies have started working together to add a whole bunch of features to HTML to create an open standard called HTML5.

In the last decade, Adobe has been extremely successful in spreading the Flash platform which is used by programmers and developers to add interactivity to web pages. Flash is also used for streaming web videos and develop Ad banners and casual games.

Now, Steve Jobs wants the world to drop flash completely in favour of HTML5. According to him, flash is buggy, heavy and chews your device battery. This is the reason, Apple does not support Flash on Iphone or Ipad. If more such mainline computing devices follow apple’s footsteps, your website would be unusable on these devices if it’s done in Flash.

What can HTML5 do

The internet is written in HTML. The new standard will have a big impact on way you will surf the web. Though a lot of changes will not be apparent to the common user, there are some exciting front end functionalities like
– Ease and flexibility in rendering graphics and images that can be used to create graphs, photoshop like applications and interactive graphics.
– Drag and Drop functionality
– Like Google gears, you can store and access data offline
– Video/Audio will use less computing resources and you can easily embed them without having to rely on third party plug-ins
– Geo Location
Also, HTML5 is an open source standard unlike flash which is a proprietary vendor plug-in. Hence, there would be much faster development on HTML5 than flash.

So what does it mean for developers and site owners?
HTML5 is the future and the companies involved have good intentions and a common goal. In fact, I think this is the only thing they seem to be collaborating on. They are suing each other on everything else. But, there is still time for users and developers to shift.

First of all, HTML5 is still a working draft and not even an official standard yet. Only few browsers (Mozilla 3.6, Chrome, Opera and soon to be launched IE9) currently support HTML5 whereas the flash plug-in is already installed on 98% computers and 1.2 billion phones and it works on all browsers. For flash developers, there is nothing to worry about. Adobe believes that by 2012, more than 50% smartphones will use Flash. Many phones and tablets this year will support Flash 10.1.

I have never been such a fan of creating flash elements for interactivity on website (like navigation or heavy showcases) because it makes your site heavy and is unfriendly to search and accessibility. So be careful while using flash just to show your creativity.

For video, there is still a debate on which codec would be used on HTML5 (OGG, Theora or H.264). A standard for video without a plug-in will take some years. Also, recent studies show that though there is a considerable difference in computing resources required to run HTML5 videos on safari and to some extent on Mozilla, there isn’t much difference in performance on Chrome. Furthermore, how DRM would be handled is yet not known.

If you are yet to see HTML5 in action, download Mozilla 3.6 and check these applications

Video: http://www.youtube.com/html5
Graphics: http://htmlfive.appspot.com/static/draw.html, http://devfiles.myopera.com/articles/649/example5.html
Drag and Drop: http://html5demos.com/drag
Geo-location: http://htmlfive.appspot.com/static/whereami.html

UPDATE:

just read some pro-flash reactions from publishers, on gawker.com and this comment by Jon Gruber which i thought was very interesting

There’s a real need for a high-level IDE that does for HTML5 (canvas, JavaScript, video, audio, databases) what Flash’s dev tools do for Flash Player. Imagine the joy if it were Adobe that made it.

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One Response to What is the HTML5 Vs Flash issue and how does it affect us

  1. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here keep up the good work.

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