Thoughts on HTML5, Apple and Adobe

Following the handbag-waving of Apple & Adobe I was asked by our IT guy - mainly Apple-based -whether, from an agency perspective, we were considering ditching Flash in favour of HTML.

My initial response:

Website wise we can’t consider moving to HTML5 for some time, not until IE8 dies.

We tend not to recommend Flash for a full site anyway, as you know. Lack of mobile support just adds more weight to this argument. For the time being we’ll still use Flash to bring certain areas to life as it’s still the prevalent technology. However, it shouldn’t be for anything critical to a given site.

We’ll keep an eye on HTML5 developments & support, and see where this argument ends up, but we’re certainly not ditching Flash entirely for now.

Summary: this is a decision for 18 months time. Flash is still the dominant technology with widest support so we’ll stick with it for now.

This elicited two reasonable questions:> Are still stuck in the ‘when Microsoft updates then the world follows’ state?

So, with mobile devices becoming the standard for the new way we consume internet access, IE only being available on Windows smartphones (by a huge margin not the norm) and open standards as mentioned on the web page emerging, maybe Apple is right about Flash… A great technology for it’s time, but that time is almost over?

My follow-up response.

I’m hopeful that IE8 won’t linger as long as IE6 has.

You probably know all this, but this is the background as I see it. When it was first launched IE6 was a whole leap forward (although everything else that leapt after it did so in a slightly different direction!). As such a lot of internal corporate intranets/applications were built specifically for it. IE7 took steps towards following the standards, the outcome being that these bespoke systems wouldn’t work so corporations couldn’t upgrade. This is the main reason why IE6 is still there and lingering well after it’s time. Systems being developed for IE7/8 are – generally – less browser specific so upgrade paths should be easier.

Even so, back on topic, we will have to wait until IE9 becomes mainstream and 6/7/8 become insignificant before we can fully use HTML5.

If  1) Apple persist with the refusal to allow Flash Player on its mobile devices, 2) the trend for browsing on these devices continues to increase, and 3) Apple’s market share doesn’t suffer from this (or other issues/competition) then we’re going to end up back in the bad-old-days of duplicate code and code branching. A side issue with HTML video at the moment is that there is currently no standard codec and different browsers are supporting different versions. sighs rolls eyes heads off for a pint

I’ve never been a big fan of Flash, but that’s mainly down to bad implementation and lack of consideration for accessibility / usability issues. On these points I agree with Steve Jobs, but that’s not a technology issue, it’s an implementation issue. There are also some terrible, unusable HTML websites out there too! I think Flash is a good enhancement tool for general websites, and good for online games & tools.

Flash in its current guise may be a technology of the past, but I bet that behind the scenes Adobe are working at ways to make it more suitable for the modern web & touchscreen devices. For example the Packager for iPhone feature in CS5