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The HTML5 Vs Flash debate has been going on since the announcement of HTML5 a few years ago. You’ll find tons of information discussing the merits and demerits of these technologies, very often without coming to a definite conclusion. The HTML5 Vs Flash debate garnered more attention in 2010 when Steve jobs issued a public letter expressing his opinion on Flash. In his letter he predicted that HTML5 will be a more dominant technology in the near future. In this post we will make it easier for you make the choice between the two technologies.
HTML was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The W3C governs the growth of the World Wide Web by creating guidelines and protocols. The previous specifications of HTML were XHTML 2.0 and HTML 4.01 which haven’t been updated since 2000. HTML5 was born out of the need for a unified mark-up language which met the developer’s needs.
Flash is a multimedia technology initially developed by Macromedia in 1996, and was later acquired by Adobe. By 2000, Flash became one of the most widely used technologies for interactive multimedia web pages and video playback. According to Adobe, 85% of the most visited sites use flash in one form or another.
The use of Flash has been steadily declining over the past 2 years. There are several reasons for the decline. Since the Flash code is compiled into a ‘SWF’ file, it becomes difficult for the search engine to spider the content, thus affecting the search engine placement of the site. In case of HTML, the code can be read as plain text by the search engine and can be used to boost the search engine placement. Proponents of the Flash technology however argue that since the code is compiled in a ‘SWF’ file, the source is protected by two levels of encryption.
Flash is also not supported by devices like the iPhone and iPad, whereas all latest browsers support HTML5. Flash has maintained a large market share for some time, and the technology won’t fade out completely but it seems to be losing ground to other technologies like HTML5.
It seems obvious that the odds are in the favor of HTML5, but there are a few things that need to be considered before its adaptation. The current specification of HTML5 is a work in progress, and is set for publication in 2014. Also, the process of revision and updates is expected to last until 2022. There are some older browsers and platforms that still lack the support for HTML5, this is something that the developers need to consider beforehand. Some of the features that are supported by Flash and Silverlight like streaming and captions aren’t yet supported by HTML5. These features will be added as the specification advances. For these reasons backward compatibility with older browsers is important before you are ready to use HTML5. While making the choice between these technologies it is vital to keep in mind the target audience, as in some cases Flash still remains a viable option.