HTML 5 Versus Flash/Flex

There's been some chatter lately about how the next version of HTML 5 might make Flash irrelevant. And not only Flash, but also Adobe Flex, Microsoft Silverlight, and Oracle JavaFX might similarly become useless.

This is because the latest version of HTML has a lot of features that were previously confined to advanced animation plug-ins... the three I like the most are:

  • The <audio> and <video> elements, which allow for embedding rich media directly into the browser; the #1 use case of Flash.
  • The <canvas> element, which allows for images and vector-graphics to be directly rendered with JavaScript, which allows simple animations; the #2 use case of Flash.
  • Offline data storage so your users can keep a 5Mb database offline, manipulate data, and re-sync the data later; an uncommon use case, but vital for rich internet application that you can use on an airplane.

These features have been necessary for a long time... and even though HTML 5 is not yet a finished standard, most of it is already supported in major browsers: Firefox 3, Internet Explorer 8, and Safari 4. This means that you can create a HTML 5 application right now! Probably the most famous HTML 5 application out there is Google Wave for email, which we are all just dying to try out!

I feel that this kind of competition will be healthy... I'd wager that 90% of what people currently use Flash for could just as easily be done in HTML 5. Also, by being standards compliant, you'll have fewer concerns about vendor lock-in. What happens if Adobe gets into trouble, then is bought out by Computer Associates? No more Flash for you!

However, there is still a problem... currently HTML 5 compliant browsers are only 60% of the market... I know quite a few enterprises that are still on IE 6, fer crying out loud... Flash has the distinct advantage of working on older browsers, and has about a 95% market penetration. Although, last year at this time only 5% of users had a HTML 5 compliant browser, so maybe by May 2010 HTML 5 will be as popular as Flash?

Hard to say...

UPDATE 1: Well, it's now May 2010, so I redid the numbers... and according to the browser numbers from W3Schools about 75% of the market is using HTML5 compliant browsers. Now that Google has dropped support for IE6, I'd wager this number will be close to 95% in May 2011...

This question came up recently in the content management universe... a few weeks back EMC/Documentum unveiled their latest UI at the Gartner conference on Portals and Collaboration... and it was a pretty slick Flex-based UI. A daring move... However, slick UIs don't need Flex. Billy and I got a demo from Jason Bright about Media Beacon's latest app. It was very flashy, and uses pure HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. As Jason told CMS Watch:

"Flex, like ActiveX, Silverlight, and Java Applets before them are, in a sense, replacements to the browser. Each replaces the web browser in a proprietary way. While I love Flex as a technology, I do not think it is a good strategic decision to throw out the traditional browser for a new client-server model no matter how attractive"

The problem boils down to this: there are millions of people dedicated to making the web better; but only one small part of Adobe is dedicated to making Flash better. The same holds true for Silverlight and JavaFX.

If I were writing a one-off rich internet application, I might choose something like Flex, because Flex development time is half what it would be for a similar HTML/CSS/JavaScript app. There are so many browser bugs, and oddities in JavaScript, that its always a long slog to debug it. With the possible exception of the Google Web Toolkit, there really are no good ways to easily design a flashy HTML/CSS/JavaScript application... whereas designing application with Flex is relatively simple.

But... if I were making an application for resell, or one that I intended to have other people maintain, I'd be more hesitant to use anything but web standards. HTML 5 is right around the corner; product development cycles are long; and HTML 5 browsers could reach 90% market saturation in 12 months.

All things considered, the best option now is HTML 5...

UPDATE 2: in case you have been living in a cave, and missed the launch of Apple's new iPad, you might have missed the fact that the iPad will not support Flash or Flex. I'm uncertain whether this new device will really take the world by storm, but if it does, it will be one more reason to switch to an HTML 5 code base.

UPDATE 3: it appears that Steve Jobs has gone on records about why the iPad and iPod will NEVER support Flash. Steve-o brings up a few more reasons I did not cover here: Flash is a power hog, it doesn't support "touch" interfaces, and it crashes a lot. Steve Jobs ends with a plea: Adobe should use its brainpower to make a cross-platform IDE for HTML5, and stop trying to cram Flash down our throats. If they don't, then the "next Adobe" certainly will...

How about jQuery?

Nice post. One comment though: "There are so many browser bugs, and oddities in JavaScript, that its always a long slog to debug it"

What about jQuery? It's supposed to remove the browser oddities by programming using one API.

The fact that Flash will

The fact that Flash will almost disappear once HTML5 is the standard in all web browser is very likely. However, that is not going to happen in the next few years, it’s still going to take a while for Flash to loose its ground.
Is it going to be possible to build interactive, casual and arcade style gaming websites in HTML5?
Video is important, but when it comes to selling apps through their store, I reckon games and other more interactive experiences are more important to apple retaining its control over the user experience - so they can profit.

Millions vs a small part

"There are millions of people dedicated to making the web better; but only one small part of Adobe is dedicated to making Flash better."

I don't think that's so. There's a wider and more diverse ecology around the total Flash platform than around the total "HTML5" ecology -- many, many, many businesses are based atop using the capabilities available to nearly all browsers today.

And within Adobe there's a united emphasis in working atop Flash: the new Text Layout Framework came through the InDesign research groups... the video and metadata teams have been leading the way on automated captioning and text search within Flash video... and LiveCycle are developing other aspects of the Flash Platform. This is larger and more cohesive than what the companies behind each different HTML runtime are doing.

... but, as usual, the world will judge a technology by its results, and what it actually offers. :)

John Dowdell
(employed by Adobe)

Re: Millions vs a small part

You are correct that Flash has a thriving community and a large ecology of add-on functionality, whereas HTML5 right now has pretty sparse support.

However... that all grew after Flash gained a large browser market share... Right now, there is nobody "pushing" HTML5 other than geeks. But, once HTML 5 has a killer-app that everybody wants -- like Google Wave -- then that could trigger the same kind of thriving community.

I'm just sayin... if I were making a killer web app that wouldn't be finished for a year, I'd probably pick HTML5 over Flash.


In all the of the debates I see people are making a case for HTML 5 or Flash/Flex they all failed to consider one thing: integration

Neither HTML 5 nor Flash/Flex will ever be able to integrate at the level Silverlight will. The real case for Silverlight is its integration model (WCF on the server and Silverlight on the client). Microsoft will push Silverlight into its core products including SharePoint, ASP.NET, Windows Mobile 7, and the biggest bets of all its cloud OS, Windows Azure. I think Silverlight is here to stay regardless of what happens to HTML 5 or Flash/Flex.

Re: Integration?

The real case for Silverlight is its integration model

And that's exactly why a lot of people say that Silverlight is a replacement for ASP.NET, and not really a replacement for Flash or HTML5. If you choose Microsoft as your dev platform, and you have a captive audience, then Silverlight makes a lot of sense... but you might also need to add Flash/HTML5 widgets as well.

Silverlight Integration

Silverlight has a great integration story with MS core products, but it has much more than that. Silverlight does not require the use of MS products beyond the client, indeed it can be served from any server and communicate with other servers and the tooling is very good. Microsoft's presentation layer technologies have always been 1st rate and compilable. Flex is also a good platform and the two will live on and compete with HTML 5. As an architect, prematurely advising clients to take the HTML 5 path seems unsupportable at this time.

Re: Silverlight Integration

Silverlight is nice, but its more of a replacement for ASP.NET; not a replacement for Flash/Flex.

As an architect, prematurely advising clients to take the HTML 5 path seems unsupportable at this time

I'm using my developer hat, not my architect hat. If this were a one-off solution, I'd advise Flash/Flex, or one of the popular JavaScript toolkits. If I were writing an application for resale -- where your app might not be released for 12 months, and might not be popular for 24 -- then I say the time is right to bet on HTML5.

Windows Only: will never be a real standard

Until Silverlight becomes truly cross platform, and not just Windows (and maybe Mac), then it'll never be a standard. Too many Internet connected devices (Netbooks, Cellular Phones, Set Top Boxes, the workstations of a large proportion of software developers) have support for HTML5 and will have support for flash over the next year or so for Silverlight to succeed unless Microsoft starts a big push to diversify the player.

Re: How about jQuery?

I like jQuery, but I usually recommend the Yahoo User Interface (YUI) library to enterprise customers. Its a bit easier for clients to swallow a library backed by Yahoo, then from a handful of "dudes" who might find something better to do next week ;-)

Also, once HTML5 is popular, I'm sure libraries like jQuery and YUI will take advantage of the extra features... You'll probably still use the same function calls, they will just look a LOT cooler.

Re: How about jQuery?

jQuery is the only open source javascript framework shipped with the Microsoft stack. That should make it easier to swallow.


Is Yahoo really that different from those jQuery "dudes"?

It doesn't seem the most stable to me. It is constantly entertaining deals and offers and the talent pool seems to be a revolving door lately.

re: jQuery/Yahoo

Which one doesn't seem stable? jQuery or Yahoo?


Stay away from Yahoo products as it is more of a profit and enterprising oriented entity rather than for the good of the developer community


On the surface your statement sounds great; "The problem boils down to this: there are millions of people dedicated to making the web better; but only one small part of Adobe is dedicated to making Flash better".

But then why has Flash been vastly superior in contrast to HTML, and even AJAX, for so long? You're in a sense saying that a group of guys have been far outpacing the mob? Delivering audio/video/3D/complex animation/file-reference-uploads/and so much more, and the "millions of people dedicated to HTML are just now nearing agreement on audio/video element attributes? Will that element have a computeSpectrum method? Web 2.0 was bubbling with the concepts of "cloud computing", "online OS", and RIAs, and the Flash Player has been the closest reality to a programming platform to deliver apps that rival photoshop. A Flash App was touting the new bitmap smart-scaling technology before Photoshop itself. Flash Player 10 is entirely more comparable to Cocoa than HTML/DOM scripting. And best of all the Flash Player elegantly side-steps the tremendously ridiculous render/display differences between the multitude of browsers. The best thing about HTML5 is that it may continue to convince Adobe to further open-source the Flash platform. If that were ever to occur I'd be surprised to see an HTML 6. Flex is adapting the niceties of element tags, but As a developer I'll always choose rendering consistency, and sprites over browser-display-differences and divs.

Re: leef

"But then why has Flash been vastly superior in contrast to HTML, and even AJAX, for so long?"

Web standards take much longer than they need to... mainly because the process is so political and bureaucratic. However, that hasn't prevented Microsoft, Netscape, Mozilla, and Apple from making additions to the standards that later became standards.

That whole AJAX/XmlHttp thing? Invented by Microsoft. WebKit? Apple. But each one was an attempt to add one small thing that made a big difference to the web. Flash is a BIG THING that makes a medium difference. It will still be useful and cool and will probably always have something of a niche... and maybe Adobe will come up with some insane innovation that will drive the HTML6 standards 10 years from now.

Who knows?

All I know for certain, is that once the enterprises ditch IE 6, they might jump to IE 8. Then the market penetration of HTML5 browsers will be as high as the ones using Flash... at which point it makes the most sense to use the open standard, unless you 100% need Flash.

Leef, I couldn't agree with

Leef, I couldn't agree with you more.


"Web standards take much longer than they need to"

Amen! You're opinion that using HTML5, when it has the same market-penetration as Flash, makes more sense doesn't make sense to me. Your 'what if Adobe tanks' statement is a valid concern, but one that is shared in similar ways by open-source tools/languages. Proprietary software runs the same risk of being deprecated, or mishandled by new management, as does open-source software.

"But each one (Webkit, Ajax, XHTML) was an attempt to add one small thing that made a big difference to the web. Flash is a BIG THING that makes a medium difference."

That's opinion. How did you measure the impact?

Anyhow, HTML is great, I'm glad to see it's advances. It is the browsers display inconsistencies I have real issues with. I'd be happy to see a one browser world, or one where any browser deviating from display-standards is fined, sued, and flogged by an international jury of disgruntled web design/developers = ] I also look forward to the day when the Flash Player is open-sourced, and becomes an integral piece of the browser's rendering engine, not just a plugin. It's a small world afterall, and we are the people.

I would gladly take you up on the wager...

"I'd wager that 90% of what people currently use Flash for could just as easily be done in HTML 5"

1. If you knew how to code in ActionScript3 and use the Flex 4 libraries you would not make that statement because you would know that what takes sometimes 60 lines in .js or xhtml can sometimes take 4 lines in Actionscript and/or MXML

2. Most javascript "programmers" do nothing but IMPLEMENT pre made modules. Unless they start learning how to program them - html 5 has a LONG way to go.

3. Wave could have been built with Flash about three or four years ago. Flash has had persistent cookies, messaging, remoting, real time shared objects etc.. for years and by the time html 5 is ready for prime time...Flash and Silverlight's tools will have evolved far past HTML.

4. How fun is it building something for months...only to find out it will work in 10% of browsers instead of 99% of computers?

I wish you all luck...

"1. If you knew how to code in AS3 and use Flex 4..."

amen, brother. amen...

I was thinking the same thing while reading this.

(btw, either the CAPTCHA's on this site are too hard, or I need to enroll in some type of CAPTCHA class... I hate always trying to prove I'm human)


Well said, a lot ppl never learned as3 or flash for that matter. And I always hated on flash so now since HTML5 is out which is a hypertext language and not a scripting language now they jump on the bandwagon.

Well, reading articles like

Well, reading articles like these make me wonder if the writers really know why Flash is so widely used and what it is used for and why HTML 5 is something serious Flash developers do not take serious at all, simply because it can't do what Flash can.
First of all, one of the best and most popular uses of Flash is ANIMATION and second, MULTIPLAYER GAMES. No, you can't make Joe Cartoon with HTML 5 and NO, HTML 5 is not suitable for creating huge complex online games like HABBO HOTEL. Creating stuff like that with HTML 5 is simply impossible. And if you're gonna try it anyway, the result will be way slower and bigger than it's counterparts made with Flash. WHY? Because the SWF-format is a compressed format. Creating vectorimages with the buggy SVG result in filesizes 4 / 5 times bigger than if you would save the file as SWF... So if you really think HTML 5 will make the web faster, think again. As a matter of fact, it won't. Slow websites made with Flash are not slow due to Flash, but due to bad programming. That's something HTML 5 will not change at all.

"The problem boils down to

"The problem boils down to this: there are millions of people dedicated to making the web better; but only one small part of Adobe is dedicated to making Flash better."

And yet, HTML is JUST getting around to being able to play a simple video, something Flash has had for nearly a decade now. How about Fullscreen? Closed-caption support? Streaming video? 3-D? Bitmap manipulation? Sound spectrum? etc...

tradeoffs, boys... its about tradeoffs

I fully agree that Flash/Flex will always have features that HTML5 will not have. However, focusing on that misses the point.

I'm talking about creating a next-generation web application. If I were to do that, what technology should I choose? Should I pick HTML5 which is a standard and gives me 90% of what I need... or should I standardize on a 10-year-old proprietary toolkit that still gives people the heebie jeebies because of it's closed nature? Also... neither the iPod nor the new iPad support Flash, and probably never will... but they do support HTML5.

For my money, HTML5 is the future. Flash will probably still have a place, but Flex probably won't.

I wouldn't be too quick to jump on the Apple bandwagon...

Yes, the iPhone and iPad don't support Flash, but that is by design. Jobs is being pretty public about his dislike of Flash, and while he can sugar coat it and say it's because it's unstable, I would venture that it's more likely because Flash is not something he can control.

One need only look at the iTunes DRM and the App store to see that Apple doesn't have much interest in nonproprietary development, and I believe one of the main reasons they are backing html5 over Flash is because they can at least exert a small amount of control over the development of html5. For instance Canvas was originally developed by Apple and at it's inception they patented it and had planned to license it.

Now i'm not going to say that the days of the plugin aren't numbered, because they are, eventually open standards have a way of winning. However I don't see the end of plugin architecture for a while. That leaves a lot of time for Adobe to improve on Flash and if Adobe ever really did feel backed into a corner they could always make Flash open source.

While the concern of "what if Adobe goes under" is valid, lets not forget that just a few years ago Flash was Macromedias baby and Adobe seems to have done pretty well with it sense its acquisition. Generally when a company buys another they don't abandon major revenue generating platforms.

I am excited for the new html5 spec, but like everyone else here my biggest concerns are support and rendering. At this point in time my clients prefer not to pay for hours of extra work debugging on multiple platforms (though jquery et al are god sends they are not perfect). Flash/AS is still a viable platform, and will continue to be for a while, though a little competition never hurts the consumer.

first next-generation web

next-generation web application is NOT a page where you put your video up and have a 3D teacup rotate !!!

no one studied how fast, precise you can create pages with HTML5 what looks and feels exactly, that is exactly the same on all browsers.

a next gen app:
advanced search engine takes 1.5 days (including scripting the buttons, my fetish) in AS3 and 2 h at the server side. over 8000 entries after 6-8 criteria and have it update real-time without communication with the server. and you use the clients computer and not the servers CPU and it is way faster than anything i have ever seen.
and it's 355k (host, send me a mail if you need the link).

many people make clauses with the support. but if a browser puts the border inside the other one outside that is a shit worth of standard border property. and that is crazy basic stuff. (try working with margins combined with padding, and that is crazy)
i see no support here. who supports the developers?

i know that you don't want to install the flash player because there is a ton of advertising done with it. do you honestly think, without flash those ads will disappear? the most offensive ads i have seen are done with js.

i have no objection to add some functionality to html (like creating a component in Flex) that eases my work, but if it does not deliver the exact same results everywhere, it's useless for me. 1 pixel is a mistake i can't afford. and for that 1 pixel i am limited to a very small portion of html.

leave Apple alone. i have seen adobe air (witch is something like offline Flash only better) on iPhone and so far so good. adobe needs to work a bit more on performance, and they do.

a 20 year old shit technology remains and gets more shitty if millions of people are trying to make it better.

Jason Bright is crazy with that statement. if a browser is not like the other browsers and does not like your code you have to replace it in the least invasive manner if you can. can html do that?

"Flash will probably still have a place, but Flex probably won't." now that statement i call noob, LMAO.

PS: i don't use flash ide, i don't use flex for coding my flash apps or creating fancy animations. i use a script editor. i use flash and flex for managing my assets and compiling only. i don't hack, i code code to be hacked, feel free to do so.

first next-generation web

"a 20 year old shit technology remains and gets more shitty if millions of people are trying to make it better."

hehehe... I do agree with this statement... sometimes ;-)

"Flash will probably still have a place, but Flex probably won't." now that statement i call noob, LMAO."

That statement applies to applications that people re-sell... not to one-off solutions for individual clients. If you want to make your website in Flash/Flex, then that's your decision. It's widely supported... However, if you are creating an application -- specifically an enterprise application -- or any kind of framework, then you should probably stay away from Flash/Flex. It's a closed standard, and therefore too much risk...

Standardizing on Flex is the same idea as standardizing on Internet Explorer. Yes, choosing IE meant you got all those fancy features, IE was free, and on most computers already. But... from a long term code maintenance perspective it turned into a nightmare.


However, if you are creating an application -- specifically an enterprise application -- or any kind of framework, then you should probably stay away from Flash/Flex. It's a closed standard, and therefore too much risk...

it does not interests me or that particular corporation what standard it uses as long as the framework / application works as intended.
i did develop flex apps for corporations (,a huge one in Switzerland).

there are rumors that flash player (the web player) get's open sourced, so it just gets a lot un-risky.

i don't think that there is any reason for adobe to channel revenue from businesses using their products/standards which they say it's free to use. it's true, a few years ago it had a very real risk to it, especially the time of macromedia - adobe transaction, and it still holds a bit, but the sea is calm and it will dry out eventually.

Re: maybe

If you are a good coder, then you can probably use just about anything, and make it "future-proofed." Example: put a lot of your logic in the back end, or in XML data files, or whatever. In that case, Flash/Flex would just be the "front end." If HTML5 every got good enough to replace it, migration would not be too much of an issue.

The problem is, that you can't always make the assumption that coders are good... sometimes the tools you need to pick are the ones with less flare, because there is less chance that the end result will be difficult to maintain.

future of web, time/money value

Guys, wake up. Adobe is not just some backward company. They are leaders in developing softwares for advertising (Illustrator, Acrobat - both used for printing), Production ( After Effects, Sound Booth, Premiere, Encore),Web (Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash), General Design (Photoshop). Every mid and large size company is using their softwares (if not, hiring other companies that uses it). Even Microsoft (the largest software company in the world uses their software). Adobe is really hard working on cross application compatibility. Yes, html5 "might" be great, but if that so, why.. tell me why the LARGEST SOFTWARE GIANT like Microsoft would push so much their silverlight??? Investing millions of dollars in something that can be so "easily" swapped away ???? It doesn't sound logical, specially in the world of money. This thing is far bigger than me and you as developers can think of. It's about controlling rich multimedia online content. Microsoft is holding the rights for EcmaScript 4. Why they don't sell it to Adobe ??? Adobe wanted it and still want it, so that they can continue developing actionscript (as you know, Java script and Actionscript are based on EcmaScript). Opera and Chrome are considered to be the pioneers of HTML5 support, then why the FlashPlayer will be embedded in Chrome ??? Do you think that we know something more than those software giants? Or we just think that we know something?? IE9 is on the way as well.

Don't get me wrong, I'm currently working for one of the world's largest marketing agency - Wunderman, what we do is developing and maintaining a lot of Microsoft websites, about 250 actually. And You know what ? I don't have Silverlight installed on my personal PC. I'm inside and I don't like what I see.
As for HTML5, we'll see, but i don't expect it to be as powerful as application running on virtual machine, since it will be rendered on different browsers. No need to mention java script programming, html5 coding, css styling, cross browser compatibility - testing and debugging.... messy don't you think ?? For example, it takes me half time for designing and developing website on flash, with cool features and rich user interaction, than make a simple site cross browser compatible. Time is money, clients don't care what you like. They don't understand your knowledge, nor they care about it, money rules, they want it fast, they want it good. don't bother with technologies that may not bring you enough profit!

Re: future of web, time/money value

tell me why the LARGEST SOFTWARE GIANT like Microsoft would push so much their silverlight???

Silverlight is a replacement for ASP.NET... not a replacement for HTML5. It will make developing in the .NET stack much easier, but if you use it too much, you risk vendor lock in. Just the same as any proprietary framework.

The iPad is about to explode in popularity, and the only hope for "open" web applications on it is HTML5. Not Flash. Not Silverlight.

Nas ,... why are you so

Nas ,... why are you so angry..

what is siverlight ???

siverlight is not an issue. nether is EcmaScript 4. if adobe wants it, adobe gets it. the current level of actionscript (3) is good. E4X was very needed and it is supported. so let them focus on multi-device, and the merge of flash lite with flash 10.1. in fact the successful replacement of it by 10.1.

Can't replace flash but..

HTML5 and CSS3 can't replace Flash but they will make some serious dent in FLASH popularity, means less peoples will prefer having Flash player installed on their system. Microsoft and Apple already against Flash, while Google will most likely to treat Flash as step child in future since Flash is closed-source. This will result in decline in use of Flash and development of flash as well. Not only flash but few other technologies like Flash will need to search their new home, like silverlight finding its home at Windows Phone 7. But as far as online game and other cross-platform application development goes, most website would prefer Flash - silverlight or even java-swing as it fits their needs perfectly. But for casual web development , developer would prefer using HTML5-CSS3 rather than Flash like technologies to target wider audience, and even employer will prefer that.

HTML5 is not ready for prime time

Why would anyone choose a technology that is not proven, and unsupported by the most widely used browser?

Life is much easier when you avoid the bleeding edge. HTML5 is the bleeding edge. Flash/Flex is
proven, mature, and 10-1000 times faster than Javascript.

Steve Jobs supports HTML5 because he knows it will never compete with a native iphone/ipod app in terms of
performance and experience.

I make an awesome living developing flex apps. I don't have to deal with the nightmare of weakly-typed Javascipt and
CSS. I'm no GUI designer, buy my Flex apps look amazing.

So by all means, please focus on HTML5 so there will be fewer Flex developers out there.
In 10 years, when you finally get HTML5 up to where Flex is now in terms of capabilities, I'll be on using the advanced features of Flash 20.1. By then, it will be running on the iphone/ipad/ixxx device too.

the same was true about HTML4

Client-Server technology was vastly superior to HTML4 when it came to easily developing a rich interface... but HTML4 won out. Why? Simplicity and openness are two big reasons... as nifty as Flex is, the underlying engine is a big 'ol mess of legacy code and crashy, buggy software. According to Steve Jobs, Flash is the #1 reason why Macs crash.

Adobe has two options:

  1. keep cramming Flash/Flex down our throats relentlessly, or
  2. coast on the success of Flash/Flex, and build an IDE that makes it easy to create HTML5 apps

Option 2 makes MUCH more sense... because it won't take 10 years for HTML5 to catch up to Flash/Flex. Once IE 6 is abandoned, many folks will probably leapfrog to IE 8, and you might see a critical mass by 2012. Adobe should build off the success and launch the "Next Big Thing" before some startup does, and becomes the "next" Adobe.

well said!

Why is it HTML 5 vs anything anway? Any good developer should be able to learn and program in any language. Client server technology is where its at. Know the principles and the sky is the limit.BTW Flex is amazing! I think people are scared of it. And I build enterprise apps on it for a living and my clients LOVE it. Of course I've written ajax and jquery apps but there is something so slick about flex. So the guy saying enterprise apps don't work in Flex has simply never written one or bothered to seriously research it. My clients don't know how I do it but I do and it looks so professional (and I'm more of a coder than a designer) but with flex you cant even tell. I heard apple just approved an app that converts flash to html5. And btw apple doesn't control the world. I'm more of a droid fan than an apple one so don't fear flash is going anywhere soon. Jobs is smart enough to realize he's losing customers to flash powered devices. But even if flash one day did disappear (which wouldn't be for a long long time anyway trust me) the apps i built still work fine and will for years! Html5 just isn't there yet but will eventually be competing. But I'll just learn that too and code in both worlds! Can't we all just get along?

it's about the long bet...

"Why is it HTML 5 vs anything anway? Any good developer should be able to learn and program in any language."

True, but the point is more about which technology is a better "long bet?" Sure, you can use Flex to whip out enterprise software solutions, but its a riskier proposition to use that versus an open standard like HTML 5 for a shrink-wrapped product. If there's any chance your company will be around in 5 years, you don't want a Flex-based code base.

It boils down to the difference between how a consultant looks at code, and how a developer does... a consultant only has to live with their code until the end of the project. Whereas a developer has to live with his code for the rest of his life!

Jesus Christ...

I think there's a better chance of Jesus Christ returning and all web application developers killing themselves before HTML5 displaces Flash.

As a Developer, I know what Flash is capable of. I know it's made by one organization, so it renders the same on all browsers on all platforms. I know ActionScript 3 and its core classes (not to mention Flex) makes JavaScript/Webkit/etc. look like a clusterfuck of incompatibility waiting to poison my CPU with verbose instructions and vomit shit within the boundaries of my web browser window's frame.

You guys keeps talking about web-standards. HELLO 99% penetration rate of Flash!? How is that not a standard? Browser vendors need to realize that there's HTML content and FLASH content. There are two MAJOR types of content. They're in the business of displaying web content and they're IGNORING the fact that there's TWO KINDS. It just so happens that the code for displaying FLASH content is written by one company and HANDED TO THEM, and BEATS THEIR ASS at delivering, displaying, and interacting with the content. Adobe should just build their own web browser SEALING FLASH as the dominant web content and make firefox, etc. their plugged-in bitches.

Amen to this. With Wired

Amen to this.

With Wired now declaring the Web as "dead" the real issue isn't if HTML5 will replace Flash but rather if the browser itself is going to continue as the technology carrying the Internet forward. Apple itself isn't really that interested in HTML5--it wants developers to use Objective C and the app store. And why you may ask? Because even when HTML5 fully arrives it will be as a poor shadow of other technologies currently out there (Flash & Silverlight to name two)

Flash 10.1 is much faster than HTML5 right now and it is moving out onto a host of devices--sometimes in the browser window and sometimes natively as an AIR app.

I've developed with HTML/Javascript before and I develop with AS3/Flash/Flex now. The difference is night and day. Development and deployment in Flash is just so much faster.

flex _on_ html5 canvas?

I have seen many articles about flex _versus_ html5, but what about flex _on_ html5? I'm having a hard time finding more info on this. I would expect that rendering to canvas would be a piece of cake for adobe (actually, they seem to have done it already: Another step would be a as3->js compiler, which should be quite simple, given the genealogy of these languages. To me (and many others in this interesting page), adobe's most prominent added value is its tools and app framework. With the exception of silverlight, maybe, adobe's solutions seem way more attractive than the competition's. I hope they'll manage to secure the neat environment they have created for us, developers, by overcoming these relatively artificial limitations.

The Only Reason

The only reason this discussion has any energy is iPhone/iTouch/iPad popularity. The same Mac zealots that can't recognize their MBPs are just tools of the trade are the same people pushing HTML5. If the Apple's devices supported Flash, we wouldn't be having this very unnatural discussion about a web standard that forces browser developers into compliance.

IE has NEVER been fully CSS compatible and yet it still holds a solid marketshare. Why? Because real business relies on integrated environments. They don't care about open-sourced nightmares that provide marginal improvement in functionality (at best) at the cost both development time and support costs. They need a thread that runs throughout the enterprise that can be counted on to work. That's Windows/Active Directory/.Net/WCF/Office/SharePoint/SQL Server/OCS...and on and on.

Try to sell the ROI on a HTML5 compliant development project over Asp.Net or Flash/Flex and you'll be laughed out of the conference room. Financially - it isn't there. Besides, there are some great tools out there to backup a lack of the Flash Player (e.g. SWFObject) for that small segment of devices that won't support Flash.

Finally, I've figured out that Jobs probably wasn't that much against the Flash Player to begin with, but AT&T realized that it could not support the bandwidth demands of a device that had access to all online content, so they made Apple promise to exclude it. From there, Jobs saw it as a way to push his failed QT platform and whip his fanbois into a frenzy to carry the message to the masses. And now, he's committed - even after Adobe came back and spent millions of dollars developing a Flash Player for the iPhone, he couldn't agree to it.

I'm tired of the "open-source is better" mantra and I'm calling you all out on it. It simply isn't EVERY TIME. All third-party tools have their place and add value to the online community. The moment we start saying that there's only one way to do things is the moment the user loses and we become bureaucrats pushing an agenda rather than seeking to advance the cause of the online community, which is efficiency and access to information.

If HTML5 is serious, let's see some agreement on supported video/audio codecs, full CSS3 support and some serious toolkits/frameworks that make development of HTML5 applications as easy as the ones you guys seem to really hate. Oh wait...that's not the open-source way...nevermind.

Flash or Ajax

I see most of people comparing HTML 5 with Flash, it is not a right comparison, while creating a website using flash entirely is possible but There are tons of reasons that developers and enterprises and companies should avoid that, but in return to be realistic an pragmatic, it takes less time and effort to develop RIAs using Flash and Flex, especially for front-ends, and since time is money and creating eye catching layouts and designs in terms of business translates to clients satisfaction, certain types of RIAs will be developed using Flash, there is no counterpart for that in terms of money if you have the work force, In other words if you are from business world no boss would grant your team money to develop a management , accounting or any new Idea of RIA using Ajax while another company created Fash+flex based which is just better from users' perspective which is sometimes mean just looking cool, with less time and effort it is possible to make Flex+flash look so cool and thus as long as money drives businesses then nobody cares about the technology, and from technical perspective, using Flex+flash as a front-end doesn't hurt a little bit, as if you want to support another method for front-end you have and you wisely created a backend API at server side anything can be used to create a front-end, for iPhone you can create native front-ends for your application, so I do not see any requirement for supporting Flex in iPhone, as long as you have a backend you can write native iphone front-end,

Guys you need to change your perspective, Flash is not there to replace HTML, and HTML is also is not out there to replace Flash, two different beasts for different jobs, as a CTO I never grant any project to develop a website just with flash, I also may not grant for developing an industrial RIA using Ajax when it is possible to do it using Flex+Flash in half time with more graphics and using back-end APIs,

Of course just for showing a video that is free HTML 5 is fine, no reason to use Flash in long term, but what if you would have to sell TV shows or Video On demand , are you allowed (contract and legal wise) to put it free on HTML 5 platform, definitely not, so Adobe's flash and their DRM will be out there,

As I see most folks prefer to remove one with another, which is not right, there are right tools for the job , and both flash and html will co-exists as they are right tools for their jobs.

You think you have it bad!!!

I have been developing Flash applications for over 10 years now. I have programmed in .net, java, DHTML, I just got off a project that had to be re-created because the first attempt at using JQuery to create a mobile web store used a MVC pattern that was so client heavy that the virtual keyboards on the IPHONE were too slow to react, so I had to re-program the whole thing using a standard tried and true PHP approach were all the HP was on the backend.

Let me get to some point here... It's has nothing to do with Flash or HTML5 replacing each other or being the best. My concern is coming in as a Project Manager and I see Flash/Flex solution much faster than any HTML5/JavaScript implementation. To a client only 2 things really matter excluding reliability because that is just something they expect right off the bat.

1. Time to market
2. Cost

If were going to look at trying to solve these 2 issues then we have to go with something that is fast, effective, reliable, and cost efficient. Flex has the depth of implementing the same MVC patterns and frameworks that .net/java use. So by combing the technologies you can actually create anything. Use .net/java for business logic and back end and use flash/flex because it solves the time to market and the cost equation much better and realistically than any HTML5/JavaScript solution. FYI... We are talking about web here for now...

Furthermore I have any even bigger dilemma to point out that would put a dent in the feasibility of using HTML5 as a standard catch all solution. It's not just about technology. At my current job I have noticed that the real problem isn't the technology we use but is more on the patterns we are using to get it done in a timely manner. There has been such a large push it seems as of late to move from a waterfall life cycle of development to agile development and stats seem to show the success rate on agile a little better. However, Companies are now pushing agile development and in some cases not looking at the problems that are brought on by setting hard end deadlines with clients while giving themselves an infinite amount of re-designs during the development process during the mini phase cycles. You can't keep re-designing during your development phases. This obviously could spell failure of any project by missing the ultimate go-live deadline. The problem is that were getting pressure from PM's CEOs stake holders, clients to get projects done faster and more efficient. Since obviously Flex/Flash is already pretty quick to implement, this gives us a slight benefit in dealing with merged or in-proper life cycle patterns which becoming more common. It seems that often the project stake holders feel they have the right even to the detriment of the success of the project to experiment even with new approaches to patterns. Tell me how then HTML5 will be fast enough and flexible enough to deal with not only time to completion of a project but when you throw in complete changes to development patterns?

Planning projects is not as easy as it use to be...

Time to market is the key!

I worked on huge Java/JSP projects in big corporations for many years. After I got converted to Flex Data Service (LCDS/Free BlazeDS) + Java, there is no looking back. Creating a complicated form (rows in rows) and passing data back and forth becomes soooooooooo simple. That's the way it should be. No more dealing with messy HTML/JSP tags since they were really invented from last century. (Flex was first introduced in March 2004. ;-)

In addition to "Time to market" and "Cost", we actually enjoying doing it a lot. It's true that it has it's own limitation and bugs (most are minor). When design it right (we are using Swiz - in Flex and Spring Framework in Java layer, both free), it's so easy to create the RIA application. The "Time to market" factor is for sure much stronger than the "future" standard. As we can see, the current real RIA environment may "slowly" become the future standard of the HTML6 or HTML7 as the HTML5 is still struggling getting the video encoding standard right. The "market" is not really waiting for that.

In addition, I am looking forward to extend that experience to the smart phones and smart pads. Android will no doubt be passing iXYZ devices since there are so many companies working on the hardware. They can't create an Apple iXYZ device for Apple. So companies like Motorola, HTC, Samsung, HP, Microsoft will no doubt to push other devices to the limit. And guess what, the AIR API will be able to access the file system, GPS data, Camera and contacts from Android/Win 7 phones/pads w/o problem. Please try to do that with HTML5 or JQuery!

For a regular "web" application, HTML5 and JQuery maybe good enough. But that's so in the last-century if all you cares are just video, audio and fancy flash movies.

it's a trade-off

Going with Flash/Flex means wedding your code to a proprietary standard. If jQuery isn't good enough, you can use EXTJS, or another similar 100% open source framework.

If you are creating a one-off solution, then by all means use Flex. But, if you're making actual product, you're being short-sighted. The only reason to go down that road is if you don't have the skills in-house to use (and improve) open standards.


When will Apple get a clue and allow the Flash player?

about 5 months ago

I still say it's a mistake... but their funeral!

Flash/Flex will be around a lot longer than you think....

Guys... If HTML5 is so great, why isnt anyone writing in assembly anymore? You think CSS was a problem? Cross browser compatibility?
Point is, in the corporate world clients expect results. HTML 5 will have quite a bit of growing pains, and have its advantages and disadvantages. Until HTML5 has a 3rd party library system or toolkit that is as tested and robust as adobe's solution no one is going to buy it short of apple fanbois.
Who knows? It could be the magic pill the web needs. I don't see it happening though.


Why is the difference between "software" and "solutions" so hard to comprehend?

Flash/Flex is an awesome product for creating solutions... is it not in any way, shape, or form a good idea for software.

can't add a link to explain?

can't add a link to explain?

flex can output to iOS

With Flex 4.5.1 you can export your app to a number of devices including iOS:

Flash player 11 and AIR 3 is also looking pretty sweet:

I've given the traditional html/css/js stack a try, but for me, it's just a kludge. It may be great for websites, but a language for marking up documents is not an ideal foundation for building apps.

HTML tutorials

Here is a link to some of the top tutorial related to HTML 5:

in the corporate world

in the corporate world clients expect results. HTML 5 will have quite a bit of growing pains, and have its advantages and disadvantages. Until HTML5 has a 3rd party library system or toolkit that is as tested and robust as adobe's solution no one is going to buy it short of apple fanbois.
Who knows? It could be the magic pill the web needs. I don't see it happening though.

I've given the traditional

I've given the traditional html/css/js stack a try, but for me, it's just a kludge. It may be great for websites, but a language for marking up documents is not an ideal foundation for building apps.

always been 1st rate and

always been 1st rate and compilable. Flex is also a good platform and the two will live on and compete with HTML 5. As an architect, prematurely advising clients to take the HTML 5 path seems unsupportable at this time.

3d canvas

HTML 5 will finally allow the masses to do what we have been doing in the Flash world with canvas for the last 10 years. However Flash now has 3d canvas and that's not even on the map for HTML 5 so now we will develop the next level of user experiance and HTML will be behind the curve once again ;)


This's a lot to read and I bet nobody will be reading this, but I work extensively with Flash and Actionscript. There is an incredible amount of technology behind the Flash platform, more than just playing videos and drawing on canvases. Adobe draws on its expertise in graphics, i.e. Photoshop, to create a powerful platform and accompanying tools for composing beautiful graphics on the fly, and creating complex animations and interactions. Timeline-based animation with sound, complex tweening and filtering effects. If HTML5 standards were to provide the same amount of capabilities, it will still take the browser makers a while to implement them all. I see websites with complex animations or games, will still be made in Flash for some time


this is not possible javascript able to replace flash/flex javascript is interpreter and flash / flex is compiler.

flex vs html5

you can compare a similar type of output in flex as well as in html5............ html5 still needs to improve to reach flex standard...... i can say one thing............. flex and flash are evergreen............ this html5 is making alittle bit tension in the market... thats it..... there is no problem for flex projects for the next 10 years.....

Excellent blog here! Also

Excellent blog here! Also your site loads up fast! What web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

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