Since the mid-90s, Flash technology has had a monopoly on developing multimedia components for websites. Fast forward to today and we have seen Adobe come to terms with all of their adversity over the years (Google’s announcement to no longer support Flash-based technology in ads being the final nail in the coffin), announcing that they plan to completely kill Flash by the end of 2020.
Update: Checkout GameAnalytics' interview with Filipp Karmanov, the CEO and Founder of Black Snowflake Games, regarding the viral potential of HTML5 games.
This post is mainly aimed to educate the marketers within our client base, however, the content in this article also applies to anybody else whether that be a web designer or a customer who is having a web-based interactive project produced; whether it be a viral game, a banner ad, a Facebook app or a website.
Adobe Flash was everywhere on the internet. Website operators who wanted to provide their visitors with multimedia content couldn’t avoid Flash. This has been despite security gaps, stability problems, performance defects, a lack of open source, and complications on mobile devices.
With Flash’s days now numbered, what does this mean for web developers moving forward? Google Chrome, now being the most popular web browser, has a large say in dictating web development trends. With their stance on Flash, it has forced the hand of Flash developers to reluctantly migrate over to HTML5.
The long-running debate over whether Flash or HTML5 is better has come to a close with the latest developments.
All this being said, Adobe Flash still has a respectable brand, despite recent negative press Adobe still have more than three million developers depending on their Flash technology to meet their content creation and distribution needs, however, this WILL change, it is simply a matter of time.
Until 2010, the Adobe Flash Player was installed on almost all computers, making it a popular target for malware developers (developers that create software which is designed to disrupt, damage or gain unauthorised access to a computer system).
As time went on, the Flash software fell victim to severe security gaps that needed to be regularly closed, this trend was sadly highlighted in 2015 when Adobe was forced to announce two cases in which they were at risk with no existing patch at the time. As a result, leading browsers advocated immediate deactivation of the plugin. But the decline of the Flash-era had already been clearly visible for some time before this.
Before making the jump to HTML5, it's important to understand why Flash is on its way out, and what makes HTML5 such a strong alternative.
Flash, which was formerly known as Shockwave and even before that MultiFlash, hit the market over 20 years ago, revolutionising audio and video streaming, offering developers a multimedia platform with the capacity to manipulate vector and faster graphics through a language called ActionScript.
Adobe Flash isn't limited just to audio and video, developers also use Flash to publish interactive websites, produce animations, and to develop Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). This is a long way of saying Adobe Flash gives developers the opportunity to design immersive user experiences on the web.
As a software platform for the production and display of interactive multimedia content, Adobe Flash changed the look of the internet. Flash allows for the animation of text and image elements to deliver videos, games, and more through a web browser. A graphical approach is also offered by the Flash authoring environment Animate CC (formerly Flash Professional). For the creation of video games and applications for in-browser use, desktop computers, or mobile devices, Adobe developed the cross-platform runtime environment AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime).
Flash-based projects are delivered in the proprietary file format Shockwave Flash (SWF). The specification of this format was released by Adobe as part of the Adobe Open Screen Project in 2008, but unfortunately, SWF never meet the criteria of an open standard.
On the user side, SWF files require the implementation of an application programming interface (API), which is integrated into the web browser in the form of a plugin. The most popular distribution was Adobe’s in-house Flash Player.
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is designed to structure web documents. Through a series of text, tags, elements and attributes, web content is defined and translated to what the end-user sees on the browser, HTML employ these basic components to program enhanced web features.
HTML5, the latest version of HTML, operates reliably in areas where it previously struggled with adaptive rendering—broadening HTML's capacity immensely.
With new elements being added to enable users to manipulate their layouts for greater SEO, along with HTML5 removing certain unique qualifiers that were gatekeeping a lot of general users from adopting the software, increasing its ease of use and customer base. All in all, HTML5 functions with greater audio and video capabilities.
The new features were designed with backward compatibility in mind. This means that people using a browser on either their mobile or their desktop can have the same level of experience, without needing add-ons.
We communicate in an increasingly mobile way, in fact, mobile is currently surpassing desktop use. In order to not miss out on conversions, every website should have a strong mobile presence. HTML5 is the most mobile ready tool for developing mobile sites and apps. Mobile browsers have fully adopted HTML5, so creating mobile-ready projects is simple and because Flash cannot outfit the mobile demands of modern business, it's trailing behind in the race, leaving HTML5 to eventually surpass.
This, of course, doesn't surprise most people after Steve Job's publicly condemned Flash for its inferiority to HTML5 in a publication titled, "Thoughts on Flash".
In Jobs’ publication, he cites six arguments as to why Flash would not be implemented into apple products;
- Adobe Flash is a closed, proprietary software
- Nearly all video content is also available in the modern H.264 format
- Adobe Flash is unsafe and unstable
- Flash significantly reduces the battery life of mobile devices
- The Flash standard is not suitable for touch devices
- Flash is an impeding layer between platform and programmer
Instead of continuing to use outdated software, Apple announced its mobile operating system would align with HTML5.
Easily Formatted Videos
From the beginning, Flash was the standard format of the video portal, YouTube (the second most used search engine after Google). YouTube’s early users were inconvenienced by the hassle of both installing a Flash plugin as well as having to regularly update the software. This was obviously frustrating for both YouTube and its users, leading to a change in 2010 when the developers of YouTube decided to offer videos in HTML5 format instead.
This is an example of how much HTML5 has removed stress from uploading and embedding video content onto browser pages.
The increasing rejection of the SWF format didn’t meet Adobe unprepared. Already in 2011, the company announced its intention to integrate HTML5 into its own products and services. They also announced the introduction of mobile Flash versions.
At the end of 2015, it finally renamed Flash Professional to Adobe Animate CC. The completely overworked version of the animation software supports the native HTML5 Canvas element and the 3D graphical interface WebGL. Both formats are open web standards. The company now recommends that applications that create animated web content with Adobe products use HTML5 instead of Flash.
Widely adopted by Browsers
In August 2016, Chrome announced that Flash content, which loads in the background of the browser, is now blocked by default. The team cited security gaps as well as stability problems as its justification.
According to the developers, 90% of all Flash content on the web is processed in the background without any added value for the user — primarily in the context of web analysis. This impairs load times.
As internet giants continue to reject the use of Flash software, HTML5 is increasing more so in its incorporation and use for popular internet browsers, citing the main reasons being both security and load times are almost of no issue when adopting HTML5.
Social Media Accessible
Another bow in the quiver of HTML5 is Social Media giant Facebook incorporating HTML5 Games into their system.
More than 800 million people play games on Facebook.com and Facebook-connected mobile games every month, thanks to HTML5 inputs. Facebook has seen the accessibility and functionality that HTML can offer users through creating and playing games on Facebook servers.
With simplified game templates on offer, much like Gamify’s own software platform. People can seamlessly load and play games off any of their smart devices.
Cross-Platform & Browser Supported
Multimedia content embedded in a website with HTML5 can be displayed across platforms as most browsers are capable to interpret HTML5. This means in the case of an interactive game, there isn’t a case scenario where a particular device cannot load and play.
The same can be said for different browsers, HTML5 has the ability to support multimedia components across differing browser structures.
HTML5 allows for storage across multiple windows, has better security and retains data even after closing a browser. Local storage is one of the HTML5 tools that make Web apps possible without third-party plugins. Through storing data in the user’s browser, you can easily create app features such as storing user information, caching data and loading the user’s previous application state.
The bottom line is that Flash’s days are numbered, yet the need for dynamic and engaging content shall remain. With HTML5’s healthy takeover and placement atop the throne of multimedia software, there’s no doubt where all developers are heading.
- MetaBlog Using HTML Instead of Flash
- Knowledia HTML over Flash