HTML5 to Bring Down Flash and Silverlight?

HTML5 is the next generation of HTML. Although the recommendations are still in progress, Ian Hickson, HTML5 specification editor, suggests that HTML5 will reach the W3C Candidate Recommendation stage by 2012. He further recommends that HTML5 reach a W3C recommendation in the year 2022 or later, but HTML5 can already be used because much of it is backward compatible with HTML 4.01. As the major browser developers adopt it, more and more web developers will start using it. Interestingly, certain parts of HTML 5 have been added to some browser before the final recommendations have been reached.

New Features

HTML5 will offer a lot of new features beyond the current implementation of HTML; of which, one of the most interesting, is the native handling of rich media. Right now, to deliver rich media, such as audio or video, on a web site requires the developer to use lengthy code and have to rely on the viewer of the web site to have Flash or Silverlight installed on their computers. HTML5 offers audio and video support through elements, which will not only make the code for a developer much cleaner; it will also play directly in the browser instead of having to rely upon an outside program to play the media content.

Pending Fall of Flash and Silverlight?

Because web developers may have a way to avoid using Flash and Silverlight to embed media in their pages, it raises the question as to whether or not HTML5 could kill the two rich media giants? Jon von Tetzchner, Opera CEO, says that it's not about killing Flash or any other program, but that it would be natural for web standards to evolve and then leave it in the developers' hands as to whether they deliver their rich media content through the web standards that will be present in HTML5 or using third-party proprietary plug-ins or codec, such as Flash. However, with all things considered, it does appear that the emergence of HTML5 could and would kill the need for Flash and Silverlight! When you consider the new methods for embedding media in HTML5 will make it as easy to embed a video into a page as it is to place an image into the page, it would be foolish to continue using the current method that involves a third-party plug-ins. After all, it's only human nature to use the method that provides the least effort.

An Easy Development of Interactive Web Pages

In addition to the handling of rich media content, much of HTML5's feature set has to do with JavaScript APIs that will make it simpler to develop interactive web pages. There are also a new set of elements that allow extra semantics in conventional Web 1.0 pages. The former markup of <div id="header"> will be replaced by a more simple <header> element. There are other elements that will accomplish much of the same; these are the <footer>, <nav>, <aside>, <section> and <article> elements. The inclusion of these elements will help move away from the current overuse of divisions and tables in web development.

Minimizes Code

When HTML5 is fully implemented, it will make a web developer's job easier, if for no other reason than the minimization of code involved compared to the current HTML implementation. Some browsers are already supporting HTML5 capability, though that support is extremely limited.  As web browsers continue to provide more and more compatibility with HTML5, you will see more and more developers turning to HTML5. While the functions in HTML5 may be targeted more to the developers, it will also benefit the browser user by limiting the amount of things required of them. Users will no longer get prompted that they need to install a plug-in to be able to view all the content of a web page, as their browser will already be equipped to handle such elements.

HTML 5 promises some exciting changes that could revolutionize the way we perceive rich media content on the web. Some proprietary technologies like Flash and Silverlight may even go under if it succeeds.

Comments (4)

tigermattStaff Platform Engineer
Most Valuable Expert 2011

A nice article, BSimms. Thanks. I'm voting "yes" above.

I think the thought that HTML5 is going to "kill" Flash is totally ridiculous for many different reasons. One of the biggest ones being performance. HTML is not JavaScript. JavaScript will be required to achieve advanced behaviors in the browser. JavaScript is not compiled. ActionScript is compiled down to byte code, and is also capable of taking advantage of GPUs. HTML/JavaScript will never be able to compete with Flash in this area. Take a look at some of the really great and clever Flash sites and really think about how well those sites would perform if developed outside of Flash? There's also million things that you can do in Flash, that you just can't do in JavaScript and doubt you will ever be able to.

Don't get me wrong. I'm excited about HTML5 and everything it will offer. But let's be realistic about it and get off the "kill Flash" bandwagon. It's retarded.
Robert SilverSr. Software Engineer

Here is a site everyone will find useful. It allows you to test the latest HTML 5 features:

Is the Kill Flash that retarted? Apple IPADs and ITouch devices do not support it but it is said they support HTML 5. 15 million owners of IPADs and Itouch. That is a huge market to ignore and if Flash only works with PCs and older Macs that is potentially a lot of lost Apple Browser visitors to your web site.
Maybe the performance issue kicks in - You may be right but We will see what happens next.
Given that Silverlight was not friendly toward Linux - I have no problems seeing it go short lived as it was.
The security problems with Flash have been ridiculous updates practically monthly and all!
Robert SilverSr. Software Engineer

How ridiculous is is it now that Mobile devices Droid and IOS both do not display SWF files.
Good news is one can create HTML5 Canvas and Javascript files from Flash but I found the solution a bit ugly
1st off I have to use an onload within my body tag and the necessity for the Canvas tag means I must supply swf for older non-html5 browsers right?

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