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. 3: Flash's good developer tools
The world of CSS, HTML, and JavaScript development has come a long way, but it's still hard to find an integrated development environment for producing sophisticated Web applications. There are solutions like JackBe and some decent Web-based tools, but these are mainly aimed at building business applications to be filled with data. They don't help you send flocks of sprites dancing across the screen, seducing the reader -- or, should I say, viewer.

Adobe's tools such as Flash Builder and the endless range of design companions in the Creative Suite have been making this relatively easy for years. Sure, it's a mind-numbing array of applications, and many cost a fortune, but true artists manage to make them work.

The biggest competition comes from the AJAX libraries such as jQuery and Dojo that have been wonderfully fertile these last few years, integrating the efforts of a wide variety of contributors. While there are some tools that support these libraries, much of the labor is still done by hand-coding JavaScript.

One designer who asked not to be named because of his company's relationship with Apple, Adobe, and others said that while he felt Flash was "old," he considered Adobe's tools essential. "If Apple wants to kill Flash, it should start by building replacement tools," he said.

Apple may not need to do much. Adobe is hedging its bets and building HTML5 support into Dreamweaver so that you can continue to use Adobe's tools and enjoy the flexibility.

Reason No. 4: Flash's supercool fonts
The world of fonts for the Web is getting better. There are more and more options beyond Verdana, and new frameworks such as the Web Open Font Format and Microsoft's WEFT look seductive. But they are still in their infancy. Flash lets designers embed fonts in their Web pages in a controlled way that makes it possible for font developers to support the Web marketplace.

Adobe has been employing professional font creators and marketing their work for some time. They've been friends of the font foundries, so they pave the way for someone to include a beautiful new font in the presentation without destroying the font creator's livelihood. The licensing may be confusing or complex -- for example, ITCFonts lists four options -- but the font designers generally reward Adobe with their best work.

Adobe has also been integrating technology from its other products. Algorithms from the fancy text layout engine in InDesign are now available in Flash when outline fonts are embedded into the presentation. (See Adobe's Text Layout Framework.)

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