The Future is not HTML5 vs. Flash, it is HTML5 AND Flash

I really don’t understand why Apple seems to hate Flash so much. Maybe Jobs is just tired of picking on Microsoft for now and decided to get a different target?  “Hello, I’m HTML5.” “And I’m Adobe Flash.”  Just doesn’t have the same comedy potential…

If you are in education, you could care less how your streaming video gets to you… as long as it just works when you  press play.  The big problem for education with this battle is that video is just a small portion of what Flash can do.  Most educators have found some educational game or utility (such as Aviary) that uses Flash extensively.  HTML5 is no where near able to replicate any of that. If Flash goes away, so does a huge chunk of good stuff on the web. Not good for education.

According to some… it doesn’t really ever have to be this way. As Remy Sharp points out in HTML5 vs. Flash:

“I personally don’t think HTML will replace Flash. I think HTML5 and the Open Web will replace Flash where Flash has been used as a stopgap…. The native video element will (eventually) allow us to drop using Flash for video. Flash has done an awesome job of pulling the braces up on browsers for the last decade, and we’ve needed it, but Flash is so much more than just video or font rendering…. I still think we’re a long way off HTML being able to able to natively replace applications such as Aviary and games like Bow Street Runner.”

I get that Flash is a bit resource intensive and needs to evolve with the times.  I get that smart phones need to conserve as much energy as possible, but Flash needs as much as possible. But you can still run the current version of Flash on a 10 year-old PC with no problems.

I think Apple is just embarrassed to admit that there are still things that their mobile devices can’t do that ancient PCs can.

In theory, I like the idea of everything happening natively in code.  You won’t have to worry about which students won’t be able to do what with your course activities.

But I also like the idea of being able to get rich, robust, interactive Flash-based games and applications on mobile devices.  Since Flash can be used at times to bring the gap between browser content and desktop hardware (such as cameras and microphones), just think what it would be like to bridge the gap between website and smartphone features (such as cameras and microphones).  Augmented reality could take on a whole new dimension if you could have a Flash based interface embedded in a website that can access your device’s camera. Security issues would have to be dealt with – but think of the possibilities.  Students could lead themselves on a tour of an art exhibit, with Flash-designed question popping up on the screen as the walk up to a painting.  They could answer the question, or leave a comment, or anything right on the camera capture, because they are connected to a website that could store their answer. The website could also store their whole trip in many different ways (geotags, camera captures, videos, etc).

I think I might have stumbled on the answer to my original question.  With Flash on an iPhone, any website could create an app-like program that would never have to go through Apple’s approval process. That might make the whole App Store pointless.  App makers could just embed their app on a website… and even charge for using it.

The possibility exists for an App that resides on a web page, accessing the page content and database, while at the same time able to access all of the functions of a smart phone.  This is what Flash gives us. This is why we need Flash. And this is probably why Apple hates Flash.

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

2 thoughts on “The Future is not HTML5 vs. Flash, it is HTML5 AND Flash

  1. Hello! Good points, and I don’t disagree. As an oldskool coder I’m rooting for HTML5 + Javascript as I can then continue coding in Notepad :-P and I’m following the progress of HTML5 with some interest. Just wanted to share two examples of HTML5 games: Quake 2 with HTML5 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyfu4OwjUEI) and Aves Engine (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ol3qQ4CEUTo).

    But as you said, it’s a bit odd how much Apple doesn’t want Flash on their products.

  2. Matt Crosslin

    Those are some great example videos! I haven’t had as much time to follow html5 as I would like, but I am sure there are many great things happening. the other side about this that is also odd is that Adobe could start angling Flash to be a program that could export into html5 instead of swf… but you just don’t hear much on that front. Even if fla and swf goes away – there could still be room for Flash.

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