HTML5 won

TORONTO–Despite persistent industry chatter about HTML5 eventually bringing on the demise of Adobe’s Flash, an executive with Adobe Systems Corp. said there exists no rivalry between the two standards.


It’s not an issue of one or the other winning the battle, said Tom Barclay, Adobe’s senior product marketing manager. “It’s never been like that. Flash has extended capabilities that HTML didn’t provide,” said Barclay to a group of developers, designers and media at the FITC digital media conference.


Just as developers use a combination of different technologies to create Web applications, they also use a “blend” of different standards like Flash, HTML, JavaScript, ActionScript and PHP, said Barclay.


Building Web apps for the mobile platform in particular is where developers combine different standards, said Barclay. “Unlike desktop applications, you just don’t pick one technology to build experiences. We see them as completely complimentary,” said Barclay. “They interact.”


While Adobe is “very, very excited” about HTML and has always supported it, Barclay did express concerns with the draft specification that’s set for a 2022 release. “The challenge for HTML5 is when can you actually use it and rely on it and have it really work,” said Barclay. (Much of the standard will be usable by 2012.)


But until then, HTML5 has ample time to get “more consistent” and gain critical mass, said Mark Anders, Adobe’s senior principal scientist and co-creator of Flash Catalyst, the latest addition to Creative Suite 5.


“I think it’s definitely something we’ll look at, and we’ll continue to move Flash forward, and users are going to decide as they have always done what is the most appropriate technology to use,” said Anders.


Last February, Adobe and Apple Inc. exchanged verbal arrows after Adobe chief technology officer Kevin Lynch said Flash would not be extended to the iPhone nor iPad. Apple CEO Steve Jobs responded that Flash is “too buggy” and that it intends to focus on alternative standards like HTML5.


Nick La, a Toronto-based independent Web designer attending FITC, doesn’t believe that Flash will ever be superseded by HTML. “Will HTML replace Flash? No, I don’t think so,” said La in an interview with ComputerWorld Canada.


La is frustrated that the iPhone and iPad do not have Flash support because of the limitations it places on the user experience. “I don’t see why they’re not doing it,” said La.


In particular, interactive capabilities like multi-touch on mobile devices can be created with Flash but “definitely not” with HTML, said La. Other standards like JavaScript are acceptable alternatives, but still not as good as Flash, he added.


On the topic of blending different co-existing standards like Flash, HTML, JavaScript, ActionScript and PHP, La disagreed that developers can effectively build Web apps by merely combining different standards.


La has worked in Web design for nine years and foresees Flash continuing to be strong despite the controversy regarding which standard will eventually reign supreme. “Unless we’re talking about basic animation … but for interactive stuff, we still need flash,” said La.


Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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