Andy Brice

Some Thoughts on HTML5 and Flash

Two Reasons Flash won’t Die Yet

Interactive Content Design

Sure, HTML5, CSS 3 and JavaScript will match Flash’s technical ability to deliver rich interactive content. But the workflow for creating that content will be radically different.

I don’t think most animators and interactive content designers are going to rush out and relearn mathematics and programming—and neither are teams going to be assembled to take on the roles of these individuals—just so the same content can be delivered an in open standard format.

Until we have tools which can offer a comparable WYSIWYG workflow, Flash will still dominate this area.

Streaming & Rights Management

However you feel about the end-user-experience or the politics of it, content distributors love streaming. It allows them to broadcast video and audio media on their own terms rather than the web's.

Flash enables this because it’s a closed, black box which cedes all control to Adobe and a third party whenever you launch it.

I think it’s unrealistic to expect that iPlayer or Hulu are going to start offering up their programming in an unencrypted, unobfuscated open standard format.

But it only takes one person to crack or screen-capture Flash video data and they’re at this stage anyway. …it could be argued. Well yes, but this currently adds enough friction to underground distribution as to make the legal option more attractive, enough to be remunerable.

Can/will a framework be put in place so that browsers can stream <video /> whilst preventing download? Personally, I find Flash’s organic, opt-in form of DRM less distasteful than a DVD region code style model. One which requires corporate conspiracy and multilateral government-backed legal frameworks enforcing closed-source systems in order to make it workable.

Standards Paradigm Shifts

This whole thing about the birth of HTML5 and the death of Flash made me think back to the time when we were introduced to messages on web sites that usually read something along the lines of…

You must install the Macromedia Shockwave Flash plugin in order to view this site.

And so people installed it. 99.9% of people; because it offered a better web-browsing experience. It soon became a de facto standard preinstalled on all major operating systems.

With this is mind I think 2010 ought to be the year we drop support for all standards non-compliant web browsers. If you build it, they will come. If you demolish it, they will leave.

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