Opinion: HTML5 vs. Flash: It’s not about Speed

    Every geek knows about the Flash vs. HTML5 debate. It all began with Apple’s exclusion of Flash from the iPhone, sparking controversy with Adobe. Apple claims HTML5 provides a better alternative to Flash. The main area of contention is HTML5’s tag, which provides a complete, usable alternative to Flash video. Geeks are divided between HTML5 and H.264 video, and Flash’s FLV format. My opinion is that while Flash certainly has many more capabilities, in terms of video HTML5 is the clear winner.
    One enormous misconception is that the argument centers around performance. It is true that perhaps the largest annoyance with Flash is its bad performance. But that’s not the point. Since HTML5 is not yet faster than Flash, some find no reason for using it. However, reasons abound, and here they are.

    HTML is an open language, and it is the language of the web. Every web page you have ever visited was made using HTML, either straight HTML (hand-coded or generated by software) or printed to the browser by a language such as PHP. Some websites are made entirely in Flash, but that has to be linked in by the HTML; they hardly count, too, being the most evil sites on the Web, sucking power and performance, often with obnoxious audio and animations, and not integrated with the browser. Anyway, HTML is the language the web is made out of, and coding in a simple element is much simpler, easier, and more integrated than using an tag to run preprogrammed Flash. HTML is the primary concern of all browsers, and is controlled by them. Using HTML instead of Flash allows for greater transparency to users, better integration with the browser, and more.

    Another reason is that HTML5 video is standards-based and future-proof. Flash is a plugin, and plugins are bad. Imagine what would happen if users had to install a plugin to view images on web pages! It might not work reliably, keeping it installed and updated would be hard, browsers might have compatibility problems, and all sorts of other issues could arise. That does not sound like an ideal situation. Luckily for all of us, HTML 2 brought us the tag, universally supported and incredibly simple. Video is becoming almost as common as images on today’s web, and an integrated solution is becoming more and more necessary.

    Flash fanboys laugh at HTML5, but they miss an important fact: HTML5 is the future of the web, and whether or not it beats Flash today doesn’t matter. Flash will always be important, but HTML5 is coming and can’t be stopped. Plus, it’s really, really cool.


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