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Flash to HTML5 App – Where is Adobe headed?

by (December 1, 2011)

Flash To HTML5 AppI was a big fan of Flash when it was launched for PCs. It redefined the user experience on web with its rich multi-media and interactive capabilities. However, when it comes to mobile, Adobe Flash seems to be  a bit out of place. This certainly seems to be one of the reasons for the innovation in the flash to HTML5 app space.

Flash is bulky, consumes a lot of resources, slows the browser, and eats into the battery lives of devices. With lower battery life, sensitive touch interfaces and open standards, Flash is not a preferable option for mobile browsers. Moreover, even from a security standpoint, Adobe Flash vulnerabilities have been causes for mobile malware infections.
These are only some of the reasons that people are turning to the Flash to HTML5 app space. Adobe has now announced its decision to do away with the development of Flash for mobile and to shift its focus to HTML 5 enabled technologies. This will enable modern browsers to support essentially the same functions as Flash, but without depending on Adobe’s proprietary technologies, and which can be implemented across platforms. The move is fully justified considering the growing number of users shifting from PC to mobiles. For individuals interested in a Flash to HTML5 app, this is good news.

Putting together a few quick thoughts revolving around Adobe’s latest move:

Why HTML5 is a natural choice for Adobe:

    • The shift to HTML 5 is a welcome change from a security standpoint. Users will have more visibility and control as HTML 5 is an Open standard vs. Adobe Flash which is a proprietary tool over which users has no control. HTML 5 provides all features within the framework of the security, and is fully transparent to the user.
    • Users can enjoy flash-like experience without downloading any additional plug-ins. HTML5  supports sophisticated multimedia and rich graphical content without depending on proprietary plug-ins or APIs. Now videos and multimedia contents will load faster on mobile.
    • From developers’ angle, HTML 5 is enhanced version with support for the latest multimedia while making it simpler for developers and ensuring compatibility across devices and platforms. It integrates best of HTML 4, XHTML 1, DOM2HTML and JavaScript. Even the developers without good grasp of programming languages like C can easily develop apps with HTML 5
    • As Danny Winokur, Adobe VP and General Manager puts it “HTML5 is now universally supported on major devices, in some cases exclusively. This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across platforms.

On the contrary, don’t expect HTML5 to be a magic wand that can solve all issues in a flash… 

    • HTML5 is not devoid of security threats. If HTML 5 features aren’t programmed properly, there could be vulnerabilities that can enable hackers to jail break the OS and access website data. A developer will have to focus on a good security model, a good permissions model and good testing, to ensure security and consistency across multiple
    • The future of the mobile web is undoubtedly HTLML5, but we might have to wait a bit longer before the millions of sit already out there have updated to HTML5. The HTML5 is large and complex and it could take a few more years before it gets its final shape and is accepted as a universal standard. Moreover, currently HTML5 is not supported by all browsers.
    • HTML5 is not as powerful as flash when it comes to advanced multimedia content. Though HTML5 is good for basic web interactivity, there are many advanced effects that are only available in Flash or Silverlight or Java. There are many games and applications that would be difficult to do with HTML5.

Bottom-line: Though basic interactivity apps such as online video players are supported in the HTML5 standard, HTML5 does not yet support advanced functionalities. There can be limitations for those interested in a Flash to HTML5 app. For instance, transforming video delivery in the browser from Flash to HTML5 will not be easy for content creators. The standards aren’t fully mature yet and there are still a number of features that aren’t supported or widely available across browsers.

Moving the focus onto HTML5 is just the first step, but much will depend on how Adobe defines HTML5 to recreate the experience for mobile users. Adobe seems to be pretty serious about redefining itself in mobile and tablet space. Its recent acquisition of privately held Nitobi Software Inc. (which is better known for its open source solution PhoneGap) reflects this and will speed the shift because Nitobi is specialized in HTML5 applications.

Adobe recently released a product called Edge, which is an HTML5 streaming and interactive-design tool. It also published its 11th update to Flash and Air 3, popular software for developers of games. Going by the company’s current pace of development, future of interactive mobile web looks very promising.

Rinish K N
CTO & Co-Founder at RapidValue



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