HTML 5 will end up with Flash?


The Web is ruled by designers not developers.

What HTML5 promises to bring is the rich interactive web in the future: the same whiz-bang object animation, tweening effects, and video that have long been the domain of Flash.

One thing anti-Flash proponents have to realize however is that the web is ruled by designers who don’t know how to code, and that programmatic animation and rich UI coding is no easy task. Unless someone comes up with a unified toolset that will give these designers the same ability to produce timeline and tweened animations, in-app vector graphic manipulation, multi-channel sound integration and nested movieclip objects in HTML5 with the same ease currently being accomplished in Flash Pro, don’t expect Flash to disappear anytime soon.

Interestingly, as Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch explains, it looks like that someone is going to be Adobe. Remember: Adobe is in the business of selling tools. They don’t make money directly with Flash itself; they make money off the tools that create Flash content. If HTML5 is where the future is headed, then that’s simply where Adobe will go.

The HTML5 video tag: will it be the final nail in Flash’s coffin?

One of the upcoming features of HTML5 which is touted to be a Flash killer is the new tag. Pundits say that Flash will die now that people will be able to natively play videos on their browsers without having to install plugins. This is great for the open web, but there’s a big problem that has brought this feature to a standstill: browser vendors cannot agree on which codec the video tag will support.

Firefox, Opera and Chrome support the open and royalty-free Ogg Theora/On2 VP3 codec, while Safari, Internet Explorer 9 and again, Chrome supports the newer H.264 which needs to be licensed. Here’s the big problem: although Ogg Theora is free, it’s not as efficient as H.264; Google’s Chris DiBona stated that if YouTube were to use Theora as its codec, it would take up most of the available bandwidth of the internet. On the other hand, Mozilla has flat-out refused to license and use the H.264 codec because it would violate the principles of free software and would become the GIF patent problem all over again. Because of this disagreement on which video format to use, HTML5 has once again brought us to same the problem in the 90′s where websites would serve videos in various incompatible formats like Real Media, ASF, WMV, DivX, Quicktime and so on. This is the exact same environmental condition on which made Flash Video took off in the first place: Flash Video simply worked hassle-free on just about every browser out there.

Now that we have established that the HTML5 video tag won’t get anywhere unless vendors can agree on a codec, do note that flash video can also be used in ways that can’t be easily achieved in HTML5 yet like:

  • video conferencing (voice and video)
  • live audio/video recording
  • video rotation and usage as a surface on a 3D object
  • overlaying dynamic objects over the video like subtitles, closed captions, or video game characters
  • using multiple videos overlayed on background images and stitched seamlessly together to make animated virtual persons or what have you


  1. Leo

    April 2, 2011 at 10:35 am

    HTML vs Flash… the endless war… but they can co-exist with each other, because there are cases when this or that technology can be inappropriate.
    No matter what they say, Flash has a long road left to travel.

    Thanks for the useful article!

  2. recursos

    April 2, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Great article! I've only been developing for the web since 2006. I started out being a huge supporter of open source HTML, CSS, JS, etc. Then I moved into an almost all Flash environment. There is definitely a movement back to open source. Flash is great for rich media, games, etc. But the open source technologies are leading the way for our SEO and hand held device world. SEO is a must in today's marketplace!

  3. Rickert

    April 2, 2011 at 10:30 am

    People are very confused about HTML5. Especially those who haven’t worked with both and haven’t got a taste of both. HTML5 is here to stay, it is for us, and it is for helping us with that boring monkey job nobody wants to do. From my personal point of view these are two completely different solutions. This is a very simple paradigm and It can be sorted out easily; use HTML5 for making those standard simple things and use Flash when you have to make very sophisticated robust things.

  4. Mike

    April 2, 2011 at 10:29 am

    You are correct, it is somewhere inbetween Flash lite and Flash 10
    “The HTC Hero delivers powerful, compatible video playback performance using Flash technology, and interactive content enabled by ActionScript® 2.0″

  5. jenny

    April 2, 2011 at 10:29 am

    That is flash lite.

  6. Rubina

    April 2, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I hope Adobe does make great HTML5 tools. Especially the Animation tools. This debate is a bit tiring. The web is still in its infancy, the best tools will win in the end. Designers may rule the web. But Clients only pay for working solutions. Id the solution doesn’t work designers don’t get paid. And at the end of the day that is all this is about.

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