HTML5 vs. Flash: The case for Flash

Seven reasons Web designers will remain loyal to Flash for rich Web content

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Reason No. 5: Flash is write once, play everywhere
This isn't exactly true. Steve Jobs might not be having a fit if Flash were bug-free on the Mac, but Flash is still a relatively easy way to distribute content to older and newer Macs and Windows PCs, as well as some versions of Linux. Adobe likes to call it "pixel perfect fidelity across browsers and operating systems."

Jennifer Taylor, director of product management, rich media solutions at Adobe, says that while HTML is nice for content that must flow into different containers, Flash offers visual cross-platform stability.

"The challenge for HTML as a Web content delivery mechanism is providing a consistent display standard across a growing number of different browsers," she wrote. "This has been true from the onset of HTML and is still true with the most recent developments. So the productivity, expressiveness, reach and consistency (cross operating system/cross platform, and increasingly, cross device) of the Flash Platform remain huge advantages for the Web community as HTML advances."

The Flash format (SWF) is open, and it's quite possible for others to create custom SWF files without using any Adobe tools.

This pixel-perfect nature, though, isn't necessary for all mechanisms. HTML users are quick to note that HTML can reflow into smaller screens and differently shaped windows with ease. Designers who specify layouts down to the pixel produce fragile work.

Reason No. 6: The Flash commercial ecosystem
Many users of the Adobe Creative Suite love the third-party plug-ins as much as the Adobe products themselves. Do you want to add slicker effects to your Flash presentation? Check out the numerous third-party commercial options available, such as FlashEFF.

The burst of interest in AJAX development has cut into this dominance. For example, these 30 photo viewers and modal dialogs built on AJAX can rival many created by the Flash community.

The AJAX work, though, is almost all open source -- a great advantage for programmers willing to tinker with the code, but not always an asset for JavaScript artists who would like to keep their innovations to themselves. This is largely an accident of the Web architecture; while JavaScript code can be obscured through minification, it's still relatively easy to pirate. Flash effects are compiled into the SWF, making it much harder for anyone to borrow them.

Reason No. 7: Flash's game engines
Sure, JavaScript has "libraries," but Flash game developers have "engines." And while the differences between engines and libraries is often academic, what would a red-blooded programmer choose? When Bruce Springsteen wrote the lyrics to "Born to Run," did he ever pause for a moment, scratch his head, and consider asking Wendy to strap her hands around a library?

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