Will Developers Still Embrace Flash After HTML5?

By HTMLGoodies Staff

Adobe says Flash is an essential component of the browsing experience, while Apple snubs its nose at Flash with the release of its iPad, which, like its iPhone, does not support Flash technology. Will web developers move on to HTML5, or stick with Flash?

Most of us have Flash enabled on our web browser. According to Adobe, 98 percent of all internet users are able to view and use Flash applications. Newcomer to the ball is HTML5, which, although available through most web browsers, is still working its way through the W3C. The reason HTML5 has gathered so much interest among developers is its inclusion of built-in support for audio and video, along with a new Canvas tag which enables more precise two-dimensional graphics.

Developers are torn between a web standard that is yet to be standard, and the prospect of a single technology that may have seen the best of its days. Although most browsers, including Apple, Opera, Mozilla, and Google, currently support HTML5, the lack of support on Microsoft Internet Explorer may make many developers wait before jumping on the HTML5 bandwagon.

On the other hand, some developers with an interest in HTML5 cite a more practical reason to move past Flash. The Flash app's unfortunate ability to crash a web browser was enough of a reason for Mozilla to release a new version of Firefox which would let the Flash app run in its own process, which will save the web browser from crashing when a Flash app goes haywire. The release, dubbed "Lorentz", is due out some time this Spring.

HTML5 still has a long way to go, but it's getting there. WHATWG, the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group, has been working on the HTML5 standard for years, but recently has joined forces with the W3C to finish up the standard. Other problems exist, such as the lack of a standard within a standard--like Flash, HTML5's new video supports many different video codecs, however each browser maker determines the codec that browser will support for the HTML5 tags. The H.264 codec is currently supported by Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome, and the other prominent codec, Ogg Theora, is supported by Firefox, Chrome and Opera. MSIE is the only major browser with no HTML5 support thus far.

The debate over HTML5 versus Flash will likely continue for the next year, at least, and developers don't have to choose yet. Adobe's CTO Kevin Lynch will tell you there is no reason to make the choice anyway, stating that "Longer term, some point to HTML as eventually supplanting the need for Flash, particularly with the more recent developments coming in HTML with version 5. I don't see this as one replacing the other, certainly not today nor even in the foreseeable future."

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