Guest Post: Why Should I Care About HTML5?

September 20, 2013 by guest author Jeremy Ozen, Jeremy Ozen

flash

HTML5 has been slowly changing the internet over the last several years. Like kudzu overtaking the abandoned landscapes of Flash, HTML5 is offering new and creative ways to drive content on the web.

It’s no secret that Steve Jobs looked to put Flash six feet under when he blocked all Flash content from complying with Apple’s dominate smart phone— a bold choice by the former Apple CEO, but perhaps one that programmers around the internet had been waiting for.

A new sheriff is in town, and so let’s look at the positive aspects of this new code and how it will affect digital signage  moving forward.

HTML 5 vs. Flash

Just like any new emerging technology, it’s difficult to tell where HTML 5 will find its footing. The first version of Flash was released in 1996 and has been a fully-realized solution for media distribution on the web for more than two decades. With that in mind, Flash offers the kind of polished solution that will take HTML5 a long time to develop. Browsers just recently adopted the fledgling language in 2011—this means that people using an older internet browser like IE8 will not be able to view or use any of the new features of HTML5. It will take time to get everyone up to date on their browsers to support this format.

The reason the late Steve Jobs and many other programmers have a problem with Flash is because it’s an industry standard controlled by a private company. Adobe purchased Flash from Macromedia studios in 2005 to unify practically all graphic design tools. I love Adobe and their attention to detail, but a coding language of this magnitude is best run by an open community like WHATWG (We Hypertext Application Technology Working Group). WHATWG is a community of people interested in evolving HTML and is comprised of individuals from Apple, Mozilla, and Opera. Keeping the evolving code open to the public prevents one company from halting their support. Though unlikely, at any moment Adobe could decide to stop supporting Flash content or their ActionScript Virtual Machine, which may leave industries struggling to tread water.

[highlight color=”eg. yellow, black”]This post originally appeared on the Codigo company blog[/highlight]

The monopoly of power that Adobe has over Flash content isn’t the only reason people take issue with the program. There has been many criticisms about the taxing toll that Flash has on the user’s CPU, slowing down page loading. This sluggish load speed is because Flash doesn’t utilize the GPU in rendering graphics. Despite this, Flash still processes video better than HTML5 at the moment. Flash also locks in all of the vectors, text, and content, making it more difficult for developers to troubleshoot. To give Flash credit, they have been attempting to resolve as many issues as they can.

HTML5 is still in its infancy stage and doesn’t feature all of the expandable options that Flash has. A major problem with its animation capability currently is the lack of masking. Masking is a process of revealing and cropping images that allows for smooth and interesting transitions. From a motion designer’s standpoint, this is a major loss of potential.

As you can see, both solutions have their pros and cons depending on what you’re trying to do. As more time passes, we may see HTML5 emerge as the industry standard for web media.

What Do I need to use HTML5?

HTML5 can be used inside of standard HTML templates without any proprietary software. You can script in unique effects with the help of a friendly tutorial site such as css-tricks. Currently there is a race to create design software with a more intuitive WYSIWYG interface.

Sencha and Adobe Edge are two programs that we have given a trial run here at Codigo. Adobe Edge has won out for us as a tool for developing content and kiosk creation, mostly due to the way it mirrors Flash’s system of key-framing animation. When exporting out of Edge, you can group everything within a folder to include all instances of Javascript and JQuery to make sure your file works offline. Working with Edge has allowed us to develop an in-application content editor that will eliminate the need for SWiSHmax or any other third party software to customize content.

HTML5’s Effect

Up until this point, most of the content that my company, Codigo, has provided to customers has come in an SWF (Flash) format. We use both Flash and SWiSHmax to develop our Custom Content and Content Vault templates. Since one of our best selling products is the customizable Content Vault, we won’t be removing Flash anytime soon. These templates give our customers a strategic edge to their competitors and provide an endless resource for content.

HTML5 is still behind in the race for now because it is missing masking, gradients, and the ability to easily embed video. Being able to dynamically place text over FLV videos is still something that only Flash can handle well. Moving forward, we will be using Adobe Edge to develop a vault of content with even more customizable parameters for future releases of our own software.

This doesn’t mean we have given up on HTML5— currently, we’re utilizing HTML5 and Adobe Edge for our company website and customer kiosks. The possibilities are exciting, and we’re really looking forward to seeing how the technology develops.

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