Saturday, March 19, 2011

Transition of Interactive Web-Content - Flash to HTML5

Vidit Bhargava

As I type this article on my iPod Touch which is attached wirelessly to my Apple Keyboard, I wonder, how many of you are actually going to read it on a "big-giant Personal Computer", Which is probably acquiring as much as a Table of your room? It is not Hidden, the fact that today, people either use their mobile phones, their iPads, or other sources of On-the Go Internet. Nobody, wants to start that large machine sitting innocently on the table, taking all the time in the world, just to show up a petty desktop screen, which by the way seems much far from an Interactive User Interface (Touted as being so, in the late 90s). They'd rather wake up their phones from the sleep to browse the internet, check their mails, visit content intensive websites or just take a tour to the App Store.

One of the things these mobile devices generally don't have is Genuine Adobe Flash compatibility. Yes, Android provides it to the users, but it is currently half baked and people generally hate it. The reason, is simple, They don't want it on a touch-screen. Flash just doesn't work, when it comes to touch-screen based content.

On the tablets, its a completely different story, iPad amounts to about 90% of Tablet Sales. It doesn't provide the users with Flash Compatibility, this means that out of millions who are using a tablet, most of them using an iPad, browse the internet without accessing millions of websites with flash content.

All this in-short makes the flash technology, which was at the pinnacle of its power before the arrival of the Post- PC devices, look slump. It is now, widely seen as Stale, premature and of a different world.

The new cool is something else. Something that is tightly integrated with the web, it doesn't require a plug-in to enter your phones, computers, laptops or tablets. HTML5!

Now, Let me make it clear, HTML5 is a programming language version of HTML, certified by W3C. And Flash is a proprietary Software for creating Interactive Web-Content. The main debate is over as to which option is better for displaying media content. Flash or HTML5? However, HTML5 implementation with CSS and Java Scripting has made it more powerful than flash over time, in displaying interactive content. And since, flash is not available for many mobile devices, developers are moving towards the HTML5 implementation of Interactive content.

Today, when you log on to your GMAIL ID, you see a cool new feature, that allows you to drag and drop files to attach them to the email. You don't know the technicalities, of course. For you its something that's coming for free, without the hassles of installing a plugin on your device. What you don't know is that the web is now, shifting its base to HTML5. Adopting the new standard.

However, in a completely opposite scenario, you go to a gaming website, start a game, only to find that flash is not supported on your device. You do not know much about the technicalities, but what you know from then onwards is, that gaming website is awful, It didn't work on your expensive gadget. The user won't wait for flash compatibility on his gadget but he'll look elsewhere, for a better experience, for a better website.

Those two instances, teach us as developers, something. The developer, must keep pace with the new standards, the new tech. So that the user has no problem using his website. It's not the gadget that is going to mould into the website, its the website that has to mould into the gadget.

Developers learnt this lesson very early last year. The result was the staggering boycott of flash content, flash video and flash games.

Major Newsgroups like CNN, BBC, NYTimes shifted their flash-based videos, and picture content to HTML5. An outright boycott of Flash Video, resulted in sites like Vimeo and Youtube adopting standards like the H.264, both the websites increased their compatibility for Mobile Devices. Slowly but eventually they made sure that HTML5 reached the PCs too. Young developers, adopted HTML5 even faster, within months, new games like the Galactic Inbox and Letter Wars came up. They were not flash, yet they were a huge success. Web-Development firms, started providing HTML5 templates. Eventually HTML5 over-shadowed flash, as the new Interactive-Web Standard. And all this was quick, within months.

The bigger challenge was web-browser compatibility. About 70% of users still used the old haggard and ragged Internet Explorer. While, Safari, Crome, Firefox and Opera provided HTML5 compatibility, these browsers have not yet reached to every computer-using soul. But this March, the world marched on to complete HTML5 compatibility, that is IE9 was launched. And Sources reveal that it reached 2.9 Million Downloads within hours.

More, evidence of the Flash demise can be seen from Adobe. Adobe Labs, announced earlier this month, the beta version of Adobe Wallaby. An AIR tool, that allows the developers to convert their Flash Content into usable HTML5 Code. Adobe has accepted defeat. They know, now that if there is any thing left for Flash, it is to be friends with HTML5.

Summary : Flash ain't the Web-Developer's most Pampered kid anymore, They've ever so happily embraced HTML5. For the user, unaware of this standard's war, is quickly getting glued to this new technology in many ways. And the most interesting part, he might not know what HTML5 is but he'll surely know that there is something different on Youtube for his iPad or that some websites just got more interactive.

But who knows in the un-foreseen future, HTML5 might be beaten red and blue with a new Web-Standard which may take over the HTML5 legacy, much faster than HTML5 took over Flash.

Sent from my iPod

1 comment:

chris said...

do you know if flash cs5 can export interactive applications to html5 or is it just the animations?