Flash vs. HTML5 – A Balanced Look

By OctaneGo, July 12, 2012 | Tips & Resources

The introduction of the feature-rich fifth version of HTML generated a lot of buzz when unveiled to the world. All discussions eventually lead to one important question, “Will HTML5 rise up one day to completely replace Adobe’s dominant Flash technology?”

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It was too early to predict that then, but now that HTML5 has been around for some time, we are better placed to answer that question. Though again, it’s not a straight yes or no. Before we try to project the future of these two competing technologies on the internet, let’s consider some facts.

Getting Real

The HTML5 vs. Flash debate needs to be evaluated keeping in mind these key observations:

  • Flash has been around for too long to be rejected outright. Consider that businesses have made huge investments in Adobe’s software already; and are unlikely to deviate too soon.
  • Flash can be said to have a slight edge in some applications. For instance, video players built on Flash offer more features, but that might change quickly as HTML5 is also video friendly.
  • HTML5 offers splendid support for image galleries and videos and is fast replacing Flash where limited interactivity is needed. Another reason for this is speed; as HTML5 is many times faster than Flash when it comes to simpler animations.
  • Flash has not achieved much on the mobile platform. Its performance has still been poor and resource-utilization too high to allow it to run on most small devices where computational power, heat dissipation and battery life are primary factors.
  • HTML5 is search engine friendly and unlike Flash, truly cross-platform. This is a major convenience for developers and can eventually tip the scales in favor of HTML5.

Projecting the Future

Early attempts to make Flash work on mobile devices were not encouraging at all; and rather than waiting for Adobe to improve its platform, the community started embracing HTML5. Apple famously chose not to make its mobile OS compatible with Flash and since that controversy; Flash on modern mobile devices has been the exception rather than the norm.

In the desktop world on the other hand, Flash is deeply entrenched but HTML5 has started making inroads. For example, most modern websites utilize the native ability of HTML to render image galleries and videos, with some companies making a complete transition to HTML5 on both the mobile and desktop versions of their online portals.

Gaming still remains a stronghold of Flash and there is still hasn’t been developed a better alternative to give it any serious challenge. Flash is also heavily used by graphic designers and animators, who can create complex animations for the Web easily with it.

But today, it seems that the day is not far when Flash will be pushed into a very small, niche market and HTML5 will be delivering the same interactivity with companion technologies like CSS 3 and JavaScript. That is though if Adobe is not able to completely re-work Flash from the ground up to make it light, nimble and resource friendly. The battle between the two platforms might have receded into the background for now, but it is in no way over yet.

Whatever happens, in either case, the competition will push forward innovation and end users like us will benefit and come out on top!

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