This is a two part article about HTML5 vs. Flash. In Part 1 we focused on why each of these technologies was created and the debate between the two. In Part 2 we will discuss the future of these two technologies and how to pick the right one for your web development.
Is Flash Dying?
While Flash has definitely maintained a large market penetration that probably won’t evaporate completely, it would be hard to argue that it’s not ceding ground to other technologies, namely HTML 5. In accordance with Steve Jobs’ letter, Apple products such as the iPad and iPhone do not offer built-in Flash support (although there are add-ons that will allow it to work). Assuming you have accepted their trial, YouTube now uses Flash only as a fallback; if your browser supports HTML5, YouTube uses the newer HTML5 video playback features. YouTube very much sees HTML5 as the future, made clear on their blog when they said: "We are very excited about HTML5 as an open standard and want to be part of moving HTML5 forward on the web."
If the decisions made by those big players aren’t enough to convince you a shift is happening, consider this: Adobe themselves have announced they “will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations.”
OK, HTML5 it is!
So now you’re sold and ready to switch to HTML5, right? You didn’t really think it would be that easy, did you? There are several key points that you need to remember concerning HTML5:
- HTML5 does not officially exist yet. It's currently a specification in working draft, but is not scheduled for publication until 2014. Also, it’s expected to continue with updates and revisions through at least 2022!
- While HTML5 is rapidly gaining support, there are still older browsers and platforms that do not currently support it. Most developers would rather ignore this, but you shouldn’t, not when 6% of the world is still using IE 6 (July 2012).
- The new elements and features in HTML5 are great starting points and will continue to mature as the specification advances. However, some of these elements, including the new <video> tag, are not currently capable of the advanced features such as streaming, captions, and interactive playback that Flash and Silverlight support.
If you’re ready to start using the latest HTML5 technology, it’s important to use shims (shivs or whatever terminology you prefer) to allow backwards-compatibility with older browsers. Tools such as Modernizr allow you to detect what technologies are available in the users’ browser, so you can determine which features you’ll be able to employ.
The web continues to evolve and with newer and more powerful technology options, it’s certainly an exciting time to be a part of it all. Just like any other business decision, you have to consider your target audience before you can make the right technology choice. While HTML5 is gaining a tremendous amount of support, Flash is far from dead and still remains a viable choice for the right business applications. If you do decide to forge ahead with the latest technology, always incorporate shims so you can maintain backwards compatibility. Here’s wishing you success.
A Little Bit About Us…
Accusoft has been providing tools that enhance development for over 20 years. We’re sensitive to the challenges developers face in choosing the right technologies because, hey, we’re developers too! We continue to support technologies such as Silverlight (in our ImageGear for Silverlight SDK) while always looking forward to bring you newer tools like AIMTools, an advanced imaging mobile toolkit built to allow developers to view and manipulate images on the iPad®, iPhone®, and Android™ mobile devices.
The same forward-thinking mindset we use to develop SDKs for you is also used when developing applications.
Have we convinced you to switch which you use for development? Want to share your take on the debate? Share below in the comments!