Saturday, June 26, 2010

What I Would Like to Say About HTML5 and Flash

There has been plenty of buzz about HTML5 and it being a "Flash killer." I think HTML5 has great potential and will be a welcomed improvement to the web, but it is still in its infancy and does not show any signs of being able to compete with Flash anytime time soon. I think some of the confusion comes from the fact that it currently has the ability of embedding video and audio, which makes it a viable alternative regarding those commonly used features. However, if you have looked at animation and interactivity in HTML5 it does not compete with Flash at all. Here are some examples and another, which support my argument. FYI: My intent is not to demean these examples. They are good considering what the creators had to work with, a working DRAFT of HTML5 and are a sign of better things in the years to come. So, will HTML5 compete with Flash in the future, maybe but keep in mind it has a very steep climb and Flash will not be standing still waiting. I do think HTML5's edge will be that Flash is not on all mobile devices including the iPhone and its larger version, the iPad. I also think the appearance of the iPad has greatly increased the buzz on HTML5 and may boost its demand.

Something that has also been confusing is its availability. Yes, a working draft is available today and browsers are starting to support it. However, the W3C candidate recommendation stage is expected in 2012 and will reach W3C recommendation in 2022, possibly later. No, that is not a typo, it does say 2022. See more on the estimated timeline here and also here. We will see advances and improvements over the next few years, but they will still be working drafts.

It will be very interesting in how e-learning authoring tools adopt and adapt to HTML5. I am sure many are  exploring that now. As far as web development, Dreamweaver is already offering an extension so you can start exploring it now. The video below provides information on Dreamweaver and HTML5 along with an opinion on the "HTML5 and Flash" issue.

Bottom line, don't put all your hopes in something that has yet delivered. Learn about it, keep an eye on it, even play around with the working drafts if you have the time and patience. Right now Flash is the best and most powerful tool in an e-learning developer's toolbox and HTML5's current draft can't touch it. Will that change? Maybe, maybe not, but if it does it will be quite a while before HTML5 is a true competitor for Flash. Until HTML5 offers the same level of quality as Flash I will stick with Flash and still recommend it for any e-learning developer's toolbox.

Again, here is the link to Dreamweaver's HTML5 pack. And if you have any examples of HTML5 that prove me wrong or an opinion, please add it to the comments section.

Yours truly,

A Flash user open to using HTML5 when and if it becomes a viable alternative.


  1. Good post Jeff. I am still not all the way there with learning all of the features of HTML5. I know what it does from the video end of things. But I am not yet clear on the animation side of things. I saw the Spiderman animation but reading the article, it just seems very complex. Why would I go through all of that when Flash is an all in one tool to some degree? I can produce, animate, import and publish right from one tool. Again, maybe I don't understand everything. To be honest, I am not a big Flash user. I use more rapid development tools than anything else at this point but again, using the CSS3, jquery, HTML5 option seems a bit overkill on the development end of things. But, that's just me and its also in the early stages of this so I'm sure we'll see some more trimmed down options in the next years. But now, I'm not on the bandwagon just yet.


  2. Robert,

    Thanks for the comments. I think you're right, we probably will see "trimmed down" options in the years to come. As it progresses we will see more WYSIWYG authoring tools for it. Dreamweaver is already offering something, but I bet some e-learning authoring tools will also offer HTML5 as an output too down the road.

    Here are my Delicious links for HTML5 if you are looking for more info on the subject,

    Thanks again,


  3. The site is a good resource to show which tags of HTML5 are supported in which browsers. A lot of HTML5 features are waiting for IE9 and with the number of IE6 users still out there, even when IE9 is released it's going to take several years before you have over 90% of browser users supporting it. Currently, most major analytic websites have between 50% to 60% users have browsers with very limited HTML5 feature set. So unless you want to target a small subset of users with HTML5 features, most companies are not going to have commercial websites using HTML5.

  4. Your post was very interesting! I have also been considering the effectiveness of both Flash and HTML5 and the competition between the two. I almost feel that there should be little competition, at least at this stage, and the buzz around either one "dying" is just that, buzz. Everyone was talking and excited when HTML5 was announced, but like you said, it's still in its infancy and has a long way to go. At this point, I would agree with you and suggest to users to keep using what they know, and if that's Flash, then don't veer away, but don't ward off HTML5 completely. The capabilities of both are significant, but for different reasons and purposes. I'm interested to see how HTML5 develops and how Flash, and its users, adapt!

    Heather Thomas
    Trivantis Corporation
    Cincinnati, OH

  5. Matthew,

    Thanks for the resource and info. For me, I have been using Chrome to view HTML5 with luck, but your right that commercial sites are not going to use it until it is more prevalent in browsers.


  6. Heather,

    Thank you for the comments.
    Being that your company offers e-learning authoring tools (e.g. Lectora), do you think it would be a very difficult transition to a HTML5 output if you needed to, or chose to, make a transition in the future? I know it would be very speculative for now, but your input would be appreciated.



  7. You have misunderstood the 2022 number. If you read the interview carefully, you will see what the criteria for becoming a "recommendation" are, and I'll say this: HTML 4 does not qualify as a "recommendation" and neither does HTML 3!

    The reality of HTML 5's availability is that the spec is no longer undergoing major changes, most browsers significantly support it, and when IE 9 launches, you can use the bulk of its most important features without fear.


  8. Thanks for the clarification.


  9. Totally agree with you Jeff , simple things that people should understand in here, if you still remember YouTube ,and another video's streaming media .. you definitely loves Flash , it doesn't mean i don't put any respect to HTML5 , well ..stop comparing people , Flash is a media that brought us to the lighter in internet era, what happen back then , if there is no video's streaming ? Hell yeah, i can't learn anything from a millions people out there from their use full videos on Youtube.

  10. Jeff, I am keeping my finger on the HTML5 pulse both in the elearning and the larger web development world (well, let's say my finger is back on the pulse now -- I had a few months off the radar after my twins were born last June!).

    It's true that HTML5 does not yet have all the capabilities of Flash. However, neither does any rapid development tool that publishes to either HTML or SWF, and most of the elearning industry uses rapid development tools, not Flash Pro (according to the eLearning Guild's annual reports). So my question to you and your audience is, "Which capabilities of Flash do you need for your course development, that HTML5 does not provide?" This is a serious question, not an attempt to start a flame war. :)

  11. Please do answer in depth in a post! It's high time there was some serious discussion of HTML5 up in here (and by here I mean the interwebs, not your blog). I'll be watching for it!