Will it be Flash or HTML5 to drive us there?
Anyone who has been anywhere near the web in the past decade will know that Adobe’s Flash is one of the great technologies that has helped evolve interactive design and web experiences. Flash is often regarded as being the web standard for dynamic content and rich media online. However, with recent developments and the introduction of HTML5, many people are speculating that the days of Flash are numbered.
Before going any further, we should remember an important key fact. The web is not about a single technology. It is constantly evolving and innovating, and that is what makes the web world so fascinating. As we find new ways to interpret media and content, and integrate interactive experiences into our lives, we are sure to encounter many new vehicles of technology that serve the purpose of enabling that innovation.
The debate between Flash and HTML5 is waging on several different fronts because both technologies have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a brief look at the pros and cons of each:
1. Currently the best solution for video and audio embedding
2. The standard in web animation, motion and interactive web tools
3. Offers strong consistency across browsers and platforms
1. Proprietary software which does not offer open source code enhancement by the development community
2. Heavy use of CPU which slows loading and operation
3. Offers minimal search engine optimization, which generally urges a secondary static HTML site
1. Open source technology which fosters innovation and development
2. Minimal use of CPU which allows faster loading on web, extended battery life on mobile devices, etc.
3. Easily adaptable for the mobile era of touch interfaces
1. Not readily supported across browsers and platforms at the moment
2. Does not offer complete video and audio embedding capabilities
3. New technology that does not offer enough development validation
The truth is no one can truly predict which technology is best. As HTML5 continues to be developed and expanded, it is sure to cross further into Flash’s territory. Whether it will replace Flash is another question entirely. There are currently over 2 million websites that utilize Flash, including YouTube. Most audio and video online is still implemented using Flash, as are most online video games and animated advertising campaigns. That being said, several major corporations are making major moves towards open source development and are adopting HTML5 as the future of their products and services. Most notably is “tech-giant” Apple, who released a statement in April 2010 with Steve Jobs’ thoughts on Flash and why it falls short in today’s mobile era. Apple’s iPhone, iPod and iPad products have never supported Flash. Google has also taken steps towards adopting HTML5. They created a test version of YouTube, which replaces Flash functionality with HTML5 and is working out development issues for future possible implementation.
So it seems that the battle between Flash and HTML5 is inevitable, however more likely something that truly comes to fruition in due time. Flash and HTML will most likely continue to co-exist for months or years to come. And as HTML5 continues to develop, who knows what Adobe has in store for the future of Flash and whether the product can address the opposition it faces. As a designer working on high-end creative solutions for our client’s interactive needs, I find that choosing the right technology for a client’s project means defining the end user first and foremost and discerning which would be the best technology to suit the project’s goals. Creating optimum interactive experiences requires innovation, and in that sense, we encourage and participate in pushing technology towards new developments which could create the tools needed to usher in the future of what the web has to offer.
One thing is for certain- the web will continue to evolve and whether there is a clear winner left standing is yet to be determined. Either way, the end result will be the same with the future of interactivity looking very bright.