Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 4th Jun 2010 15:36 UTC
Internet & Networking Earlier this week, Apple launched a HTML5 Showcase page, displaying several uses for HTML5 and related technologies. However, it turns out that Apple is using trickery to block out browsers other than Safari, with the end result that browsers with better support for web standards than Safari can't access the demos.
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RE[4]: Still unclear
by 2wicky on Sun 6th Jun 2010 17:32 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Still unclear"
2wicky
Member since:
2010-06-06

Force is being applied. The news has been filled from even before Apple launched the iPad. The writing has been on the wall.


Flash has seen a lot of these writings on the wall before. Why is this any different? A little history lesson:

In the early days, shockwave was the online multimedia tool of the web. When Flash came a long, it did only a fraction of what shockwave could do, but it took off anyway surpassing shockwave quickly. Macromedia was lucky they had both technologies in house, because all their efforts to treat flash as a second class citizen while trying to salvage shockwave failed. Why? Probably because Flash did the impossible: animated vectors at reasonable speeds.

Then there was the "Flash 99% bad" article that spread through the web community like a wild fire. A lot of people than where pretty sure that it would mark the end of Flash. That was more than a decade ago. It did however inspire others like Zeldman to fight for better web standards and accessibility. Until that point, the HTML development community was a mess too until it slowly started to clean up its own act.

Next: The HTML world was in desperate need of a vector format that was open and easy to use. SVG was developed and fit the bill. Unfortunately, Adobe saw SVG as a chance to dethrone Flash. They failed and the result is that SVG adoption was stalled for over a decade. A real shame because had they not envisioned it as a replacement for Flash, we would be doing a lot more cool things with SVG today. It's only now starting to flourish in the wild.
Adobe in the mean time learned, like others have (ex Xara and their .web format) that you can't just take a vector format like SVG (which is optimized to give the best fidelity for static images) and simply animate it. It's pretty CPU intensive and not something easily fixed with hardware acceleration.

So Adobe probably reasoned, if you can't beat them, buy em. And so they bought Macromedia to get their hands on Flash.

Than Microsoft came a long with Silverlight, though they seem to be smart enough not to take Flash head on. Silverlight's main reason to exist is to aid development on the .net platform. Being able to also enter Flash territory is an added plus, but not a necessity. As such, nobody is worried about Microsoft's long term commitment towards Silverlight even if it never ever replaces Flash.
And that's the stance HTML5 should have taken and was taking. Until Apple got involved.

And that is the whole problem with HTML5 vs Flash situation today. Just like with SVG, long term, it will do HTML5 more damage than it will to Flash.
By over hyping HTML5 as a Flash replacement, expectations are being created to which it is not ready to live up to. You run a real big risk that developers and customers jumping in too early will burn their fingers on this, turning their backs on it entirely and stagnating adoption and progress by years.

The last time we saw this much hubris in the HTML world, was the main reason why Flash grew from a simple animation tool to a fully fledged development platform. It saved people a lot of time and money because they didn't have to deal with browser incompatibilities.

If companies like Apple want to bill HTML5 as a Flash replacement, they can't afford to make this same mistake again. Unfortunately, history is repeating itself.

Looking to the future...

For Adobe, it's quite simple. Get Flash on as many mobile devices as possible and than educate the development community on how to keep the resource footprint of their flash apps as small as possible. Flash developers won't be able to ignore this anymore when confronted with the limited resources of mobile devices and will benefit the rest of the web. Flash community needs something like what the aListApart did for HTML standards and accessibility.

For the HTML5 community, it's a lot harder and they should be exercising patience rather than hyping it up. In the meantime, browser vendors will actually need to work together which is not easy as they are competing against each other. But they can't turn it into a feature war and encourage messages like "You need to download this browser to view this page". They need to encourage good behavior by degrading gracefully. If not, developers and users will eventually converge to a single browser vendor out of convenience. And progress will stagnate again. It's how we got stuck with IE6 mess today.

At this point, it's hard to tell if Apple really is sincere about progressing HTML5, or that they are doing everything in their power to sabotage it.

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