Articles Tagged ‘Flash’

Executive Summary: Flash vs HTML5

Flash CS5 boxSo, infamously, the iPhone OS doesn’t support Flash, encouraging its users to use the advantages of the webkit-based Safari to overcome any challenges that a lack of Flash can present. Last year, Adobe announced that in Flash CS5, you’d be able to convert it to run on the iPhone. In April, with a revised iPhone developer agreement, Apple put the brakes on, saying only apps written in one of three languages would be accepted on the App store. Adobe’s solution would compile directly to the CPU bytecode, hence being illegal.

Adobe weren’t too pleased about this, yet launched the product anyway, hoping Apple would change its mind. Since then, Steve Jobs wrote an open letter, explaining their position, claiming six points:

  1. Flash is closed source (like the iPhone), HTML5 is open
  2. Flash is the number one cause of crashes on OS X
  3. Flash is not designed for touch
  4. Need to maintain app quality on the store
  5. HTML5 can do everything that Flash can
  6. Battery life suffers

In the letter, there’s a bit of pretending that the iPhone is the only phone in the market, but otherwise, in my opinion, it’s accurate.

Adobe’s response was somewhat deluded; laughing that Flash wasn’t an open platform (someone should break the news to Adobe’s CEO) and saying that Flash 10.1 will ship to mobile devices later this year, focusing on multi-platform development. Adobe’s CEO also points that Apple’s developer restrictions are cumbersome and have nothing to do with the technology.

Even worse for Adobe, Microsoft has weighed in, saying HTML5 is the future of the web.

So, who’s on the right side? I believe that Apple have got it right this time, even implementing a half-finished specification is better than a platform that Apple have no control over, especially when the user experience is so important for the iPhone’s success. HTML5 genuinely can do everything Flash can, and do it all on hardware. It goes beyond Flash with geo-location and JavaScript access to more hardware features like the accelerometer and camera.

Personally, Adobe needs a re-think of their strategy. Flash enjoyed enormous success as a video player (thanks to YouTube) but they should have seen HTML5 coming. It’s been on the cards since the first iPhone in 2007 and Adobe has done through an entire release cycle (CS5) with little though for HTML5. If they’re smart, which they are, Flash CS6 will be able to create SVG graphics and Canvas apps using web databases and fonts, having Flash fallbacks for non-HTML5 capable browsers. Dreamweaver will have HTML5 structure tags available and Illustrator and Photoshop will do SVG too.

If Adobe don’t keep up with developers, the devs will simply find other tools to use. Adobe can avoid this, and it’s in their hands.

HTML5 Coming of Age

iPad flaming chariot

If technology is driven forward by demand and hype, Apple is at the helm of a HTML5 labelled chariot rampaging through the streets. The iPad is coming and high-end newspaper and magazine publications are falling over themselves to change their sites to be used with Apple’s new flagship device.

The amount of power Apple holds is amazing. Forcing the likes of News Corp to change the way their content is published is a task that would normally be impossible for any external company. Even if you were coming at it from the inside, you would never have a hope of dropping Flash video players. There simply isn’t the business case to change something that so many man hours will have been put into, and backwards-compatability issues crop up all over the place. Yet with the onset of this new device, predicted to sell between 8 and 10 million units this year, companies have had to look to new, Apple endorsed, technologies.

This change, away from Flash, has forced the issue of HTML5 video. YouTube has HTML5 video mode, as does Vimeo, and this will soon be supported by the upcoming IE9. All of these major sites are now raising awareness of this new technology to people who wouldn’t normally know about it i.e. your manager AKA the person with the budget. Now they’re aware of the benefits of HTML5, they want to see what else it can do. If you are ever asked this question, show them HTML5demos.com or the IE9 test drive page. If they’ve got a more detailed question, go to the HTML5 Doctor or just twitter @brucel, Opera’s web evangelist.

With so much drive towards HTML5 at the moment, you can’t get away from it. With Apple as the driving force, the train will be unstoppable, though it will still be many years until you can use it in all situations; probably around the time we ditch Windows XP for good.