Altabel Group's Blog

Flash and HTML5 – Friends or Rivals?

Posted on: August 10, 2011

Recently, you might have heard a lot that Flash is a dying technology and soon it will be replaced by HTML5. Many developers have picked up this idea and a lot of applications for the same iPad are designed, using HTML5. Flash and HTML5 seem to be competing platforms. By the way, these platforms are not really competitors as they fulfill quite different tasks. Everybody knows, each platform has its own advantages and disadvantages. And the most interesting point is the following: in this case, advantages of one platform compensate shortcomings of the other and vice versa. So Flash and HTML5 can be successfully used together in one project, and complement each other.

The advantages of HTML compensate the disadvantages of Flash:

– Flash is quite weak and ineffective with text and complex formatting.
It is an everlasting problem of flash and vendors cannot solve it. Yes, you could say that Adoby has made Text Layout Framework which solves this problem. And in general, you would be right but still it is not free from bugs and unpleasant side effects. That is why, in some cases you must reject it and go back to the old and less effective facilities. But HTML was originally designed to work with the text. So, if you want to show more than two paragraphs of the text and format it for more than a couple of styles you should use HTML.

– While using Flash, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to implement many of the standard features for the browser. For example a user can open a link in a brother in the same tab, a new tab or a new window. The user can only open a link in a flash in the same tab or a new tab as a programmer would do (and the programmer, of course, would like to take the second one🙂. The problem could be solved partly – you could add the appropriate function in the context menu. But it would be impossible to distinguish the middle mouse button click on the left button (it could be possible in the AIR). Or, as a variant, you could involve JavaScript but it would be worse for performance.

– Flash requires a certain amount of resources and does not always suite mobile technologies.

The advantages of Flash, offsetting disadvantages HTML5:

– Cross-browser compatibility, it does not depend on a certain browser. This problem arises if you use HTML, CSS, JavaScript as the browsers understand the code in their own way. Although developers know the way to solve it and sometimes it is possible to make a cross-browser code, still it takes a lot of time and effort.

– Flash provides more opportunities to work with media content. The possibilities of HTML5 are good for working with video, but still it is a long way to the possibilities of Flash. And there are some inherent problems with codecs andlicenses that will be difficult to deal with.

The projects where HTML5 and Flash could be usefully combined:

The projects where it is important to obtain data from a server with low latency:

  • chat;
  • instant messaging;
  • whiteboard;
  • simultaneous work with a range of documents;
  • e-learning and etc. ;

The projects which could be relating to the publication and reception of video and audio:

  • video chat
  • IP telephony;
  • services video (youtube);

Browser multiplayer games.

So, in conclusion I would like to notice that the achievements of HTML5 are really amazing and, possibly, soon nobody will remember the devices which were used before it. I think that HTML5 will gradually replace Flash only for some activities, but Flash will have a place, especially when it is necessary to develop complex games and rich Internet applications.

Best Regards,
Elvira Golyak
Altabel Group – professional software development

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