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Flash Forward to HTML5

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By: Dan Gruskin, Graphic Designer at CPXi

With everyone talking about the mass transition out of Flash and into the new standard of HTML5, we asked our graphic designer here at CPXi, Dan Gruskin, to help explain the advantages of HTML5 and why Flash is quickly being pushed out of the way. 

Imagine starting a game on your desktop in a browser, then getting on the bus and continuing that game cross-device on your phone. At the end of level three you’re served a pop-over ad for a local bakery that leverages your location. In this ad there is a video of the bakery owner as well as an order form. The order form involves a custom cake creator that gives you the option to draw your own cake top design. You remember it’s your mom’s birthday and are able to customize a cake order in an app environment while still inside the ad you were served, without ever having to open a browser or close out the game. This ‘game changing’ experience would not be possible without HTML5.

HTML5 is the latest version of Hypertext Markup Language (the code that makes webpages). In a grander sense, HTML5 is a combo deal of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. If we were to compare HTML5 to a house: HTML would provide the framework, CSS would provide the decoration, and JavaScript would give functionality to all of the appliances. Using the most modern versions of these components we’re able to create a very rich user experience on the web, across all platforms and without the usage of plugins.

For the past year or so we’ve all been seeing headlines tout the mantra “Flash is Dead, Long Live HTML5”, and while I agree with that sentiment there are a couple of points that should be cleared up. Flash player is the technology that is being phased out. Flash player is only part of the flash ecosystem and should be considered a different entity from Flash as a development platform. Flash Pro (the development environment) is still going strong, and is actually one of the best authoring tools for HTML5. HTML5 is here, and it’s here to stay, but before we get into that I want to take a moment and give Flash some well deserved respect.

Think back to the first truly interactive animated experience you had on the internet. It was most likely filled with auto-playing music, a crazy font, poor UX, and it was all created using Flash. Despite the ‘cheesiness’ of the internet back then, (it really wasn’t that long ago) flash prompted huge changes in the way that we think about web design and the UX experience. The number of hours we’ve spent as a culture watching videos, playing games, and listening to music on the internet is incalculable, and would not have been possible without flash. The concept of one file that looks the same across all platforms, that doesn’t require too much computing power and can be created in a user friendly platform was exactly what we needed then. Times are changing, however. The internet is evolving and it has evolved in the form of HTML5.

HTML5 has become the new internet standard, and for good reasons. HTML5 seeks to create an internet that is easier to develop for, works on any device, and decreases the need for external plugins (like flash player).  Like any new technology there are improvements that need to be made. Font support, file size (reference files included), compatibility, time based animation, audio synching, and design/development interface come to mind. Despite the issues, HTML5 has a very active developer base and is improving day by day. Without a doubt HTML5 is setup to become the juggernaut of the internet, if it isn’t already.

The way we consume and interact with content on the internet has always been paramount. For years Flash was king, now the new kid on the block has grown up and is leading a new charge towards a better more complete experience. Much like in the heyday of Flash, we can expect to see huge steps forward in internet culture due to the adoption of HTML5.  3d support, video support, geolocation, drag and drop functionality, the canvas element, and offline applications are just a few of the HTML5 features that we’re going to be seeing a lot of over the next couple of years. Rich experiences will be commonplace in all industries, and on all devices.

Flash kick-started the internet we know today. Games, videos, apps, utilities and countless other functions which all became an integral part of the experience. But the story of technology has always been evolution, and with HTML5, we are now able to modulate the ideas from the Flash era to create a whole new, rich, cross-platform, universal user experience.  After all, while the example of HTML5 functionality described in the opening paragraph of this piece is only one imagined use, you have to admit customizing a birthday treat for your mom from inside an ad served on your phone certainly ‘takes the cake.’

 

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