Knowledge: HTML5 vs. Flash
It’s been years since the announcement of HTML5 and yet the HTML5 vs. Flash debate continues to rage on among developers or reviewers. Everywhere you look, from newspapers to magazines to the Internet, you’re swamped with articles about advantages and disadvantages of these two technologies, often offering conflicting advice about which oneis the better solution. So, with all the noise on this subject circling in the technology stratosphere, how do you make a decision on which one in HTML5 and flash is best for you?
Adobe Flash is a multimedia platform and a RIA tool used for adding vivid animation and interactivity to ads, games and various types of web pages. For the time being it can be said that Flash is the most popular platform for developing Rich Internet Applications, providing a large suite of tools that are both powerful and easy to use.
HTML5 is a markup language for the World Wide Web (for structuring and presenting content), and a fundamental technology of Internet. It is the fifth revision of the popular hypertext markup language (HTML) standard created in the '90s. The innovation in HTML5 is that it natively supports multimedia contents and provides features for allowing scriptable rendering of 2D shapes.
Comparison of HTML5 and Flash
Flash has the ability to specify measurements in sub-pixel increments. This can result in a crisper and generally more pleasant appearance of Flash web sites. When confronted with CSS and HTML measurements on a sub-pixel scale, web browsers will round either up or down, depending on the browser, which leads to inconsistency and unreliability in the display of those pages. Flash offers webcam support, while HTML and related technologies did not until recently.
There are, however, people working on adding "device support" (device API) to the HTML5 specification, which would allow for videoconferencing, access to webcams, microphones, USB-thumbdrives and other USB- or serial devices.
2. Software support
The latest version of the Adobe Flash Player runs on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android 2.2-4.0.x (Flash has been released for 4.0, but Adobe has announced that they will discontinue support for Android 4.1 and higher.), RIM QNX and Google TV. Earlier versions run on PlayStation 3 (Flash 9), and PSP (Flash 6). Adobe Flash Lite runs on Wii, Symbian, Maemo Linux, Windows Mobile, and Chumby. Apple does not allow Flash to run on iOS, the operating system which runs on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Apple TV. Apple stated that it had no plans to do so. In February 2012, Adobe announced it would discontinue development of Flash Player on Linux for all browsers except Google Chrome by dropping the support for NPAPI and using only Chrome’s PPAPI.
All web browsers support HTML and other Web standards to various degrees. As of March 2011 versions of browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera implement HTML5 to a large degree. However, many Internet users continue using older browsers such as Internet Explorer 8 (the highest version available to users of Windows XP), so portions of the HTML5 specification do not work with a significant fraction of browsers still in use.
Some users – especially those on Mac OS X and Linux – have complained about the relatively high CPU usage of Flash for video playback. This was partially because the Flash plugin did not use the GPU to render video. Adobe has responded to some of those criticisms in the 10.1 and 10.2 releases of the Flash plugin by offloading H.264 video decoding to dedicated hardware and by introducing a new video API called Stage Video. In addition, the use of the newer ActionScript 3.0 inside Flash movies instead of the older ActionScript 2.0 improves code execution speed by a factor of around 10. But older websites that use ActionScript 2.0 will not benefit from this. The software routines written by developers can also affect the performance of applications built in Flash, reasons that would affect HTML5 animations as well.
An HTML vs Flash comparison in 2010, listed non-Flash technologies as being slower than Flash when used for non-video animations, but in January 2012 some of them were faster.
4. Usage statistics
Flash Player usage statistics according to Adobe: 85% of the most-visited web sites use Flash, 75% of web video is viewed using the Flash Player, 98% of enterprises rely on the Flash Player, and 70% of web games are made in Flash. Some video sites, including YouTube, Vimeo and blip.tv, have implemented support for HTML5 video.
5. Search engines
Both Flash content and HTML content can be indexed by Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, although bi-directional text (e.g., Hebrew) is not supported by Google. Yahoo! added support for indexing Flash sites in 2008, although Google had been able to index them for several years before that. Bing added support for Flash sites in 2010.
6. iOS Devices
Apple has been promoting HTML5 as an alternative to Flash for video and other content on the iOS, citing performance reasons for not allowing Adobe Flash Player to be installed on iOS devices, including the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Flash applications can be packaged as native iOS applications using the Adobe Integrated Runtime and the iOS Packager.