Adobe Flash vs. HTML5

By , IDG News Service |  Software

You know a technology's future doesn't look promising when even the company that manages it has started offering a toolset for the competing approach.

In August, Adobe surprised the Web development community by releasing a preview of software for building rich Internet applications (RIA), called Edge. Edge was surprising in that it uses a newly emerging set of Web markup and programming standards clustered around the World Wide Web Consortium's HTML5 standard, including HTML5 itself, and also CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), the Canvas tag, and the JavaScript programming language.

"We think our customers are going to be able to take advantage of Web standards in some cases where before the only option would have been to use Flash," admitted Arno Gourdol, director of engineering for Adobe Flash.

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BACKGROUND: 4 things you need to know about Adobe Edge

Adobe's Flash multimedia platform has, of course, delivered animations, interactivity and rich graphics to Web browsers for the past 15 years or so, via a plug-in now installed on as many as 98% of the world's desktop and laptop computers.

With HTML5, however, the W3C has slowly replicated much of the functionality in Flash, leading observers to assume that, once it is fully supported in browsers, it could replace Flash altogether, eliminating the need for plug-ins and costly authoring tools from Adobe and others.

Certainly an increasing number of Internet giants are thinking this is the case. Most famously, Apple last year nixed the idea of using Flash on iPhones and iPads, citing flakiness of the platform and the general readiness of HTML5 as an alternative.

At the Web 2.0 Expo, held recently in New York, Brendan Eich, Mozilla CTO and the creator of JavaScript, proclaimed that there is nothing that Flash can do that HTML5 and related standards now can't as well.

Facebook has set up a HTML5 resource center, in the hopes that developers would use the technology to build mobile apps that can be accessed through Facebook. Google is using HTML5 to build out the next generation of Gmail.

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