Thoughts on the Future of Flash and HTML5

Mike D'AgrumaSince its inception, Adobe Flash has given designers and developers an innovative way to create content that went beyond HTML, CSS and in some rare cases, JavaScript. It became an extremely popular tool to build interactive animations and effects and combine video and audio elements into one package.
The beauty of it is its cross-platform compatibility – it’s operating system and browser independent. If a user has the correct Flash plugin, an animation will be viewed correctly on just about any Web browser.

It also has its share of problems, though. Development time takes longer; it takes forever to download Flash-based content on a slower network (which in turn requires the development of a Flash preloader); a knowledge of ActionScript is required to really unlock its full potential; it presents an inconsistent and incompatible mobile experience; it’s SEO hit-or-miss; and Flash players are usually buggy, crash regularly, require frequent updates and create a host of security and privacy issues.

Until recently, Flash has pretty much been the only game in town with regards to the creation and handling of the kind of content it supports.But HTML5 has pretty much won the fight for the future of Web browsing. Not only has the new syntax proven to be very multimedia friendly, thus eliminating the need to develop and/or implement Flash- based technology, Adobe itself has publicly encouraged designers and developers to pursue HTML5 solutions – at least when developing for mobile Web.

Flash will still be critical part of the desktop multimedia experience, however, especially since only the latest versions of most browsers can read HTML5. Even if Flash is on the path towards becoming an outdated Web technology, too many desktop browser users have come to expect and rely on it to display interesting and innovative forms of content.

And they’ll be expecting it for the foreseeable future. It’s going to take awhile for HTML5-friendly browsers to become standard-use across the Web, so the Flash phase-out isn’t likely to happen as quickly as some would expect (or want). Designers and developers have been creating tailored Web experiences for different platforms for the past few years, and while it isn’t an efficient or productive way of doing things, it’s more or less how things are going to have to be until a universal, cross-device standard is implemented.

So, while the future may belong to HTML5, Flash is still an appropriate technology in certain cases for present Web development.

One Comment

  1. Tomas
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 5:10 am | Permalink

    About the first part…
    Flash has great development tools to achieve advanced effects (compared to hack HTML5 with crossbrowser problems and miss tons of features)
    Flash is small/compressed, vector animation often only a few kb and efficient for banners (HTML5 need a lot of libraries to fix basic things). So Flash is as big as you want to.
    If HTML5 is so great, why don’t you see cool advanced HTML5 animations on tablets/phones yet? It’s hard to do one solution fit all, so sometimes its better to give something extra on desktops.
    Just because HTML becoming better Flash its not outdated, multimedia, realtime audio or webcam, advanced 3D etc is years ahead a standard that works on all browsers.

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