The slow death of html-integrated Flash

By mOrPhie on Sunday 21 February 2010 12:33 - Comments (9)
Categories: software engineering, techrelated, Views: 3.023

Currently, Apple is under a lot of pressure to add Flash to the iPhone and iPad. Since, according to Adobe (http://www.adobe.com/products/player_census/flashplayer/), 99% of internet-enabled PC's have Flash installed, it's fair to say that Flash is currently a well-adopted platform. And I guess that about 70% of the online video-content is Flash. But, no Flash for iPad. It's a CPU hog and old technology, according to Steve (http://www.pcworld.com/ar...obs_bad_mouths_flash.html). Is he right? Well... a bit.

The problem here isn't Flash, or at least wasn't. 1) It's the lack of Flash-like features in native browser technologies such as HTML that should have been there. 2) It's the fact that HTML isn't a very good RIA-platform.

Why is YouTube using Flash for displaying movies? Because HTML didn't support it natively. Why is it that a lot of RIA apps are built in Flash or Silverlight? Because it's much easier to do than a RIA app in HTML and therefore you get better results. If you don't believe me, take a look at the Silverlight-version beta of Bing Maps. It's not a coincidence either that Google Street View is Flash. Ever tried building something like that in HTML?

I see a lot of change in the RIA world. HTML 5 supports video and a canvas, making it a lot easier to create animation, transitions, and video-based websites and thus deprecating the use of Flash for a lot of cases in websites that use Flash for that right now. But, the dark side of it is that it's a very premature technology. Not all browsers support it. Developers around the world still need to understand how to work with it. HTML 5 isn't done yet. And most importantly: it won't support all RIA cases.

With these things in mind, I think the following will happen in the next 3 to 5 years: HTML 5 will replace flash for video in the browser and cases where Flash was used for fluid animation and font embedding. Technologies such as Flash and Silverlight will be used more and more outside the browser (Adobe Air for example) or standalone in the browser for standalone connected applications instead of integration with HTML.

And for what it’s worth: Although it has some implications, overall, I think that’s a good thing.