HTML5 wins the user experience war, but there are still Flash pockets of resistance

HTML5 is widely accepted and supported as the language of UI and UX, but Flash still has its adherents.

The writing was on the wall back in 2010 when Apple's Steve Jobs famously proclaimed that his company's devices would never support the Adobe Flash interface, preferring HTML5 instead.

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

Six years later, it's probably time to lay Flash to rest. But, as with many a legacy technology, Flash still has its loyalists. InfoWorld's Paul Krill did some digging, noting that W3Techs Web usage data reports that Flash is still used on eight percent of websites, though this is down from 10% in a year ago." Usage was about 29% back in 2010. Krill also discovered some hardcore Flash adherents even have a Facebook page called "Occupy HTML5."

The page was started in January 2014, and there hasn't been a great deal of activity on it lately. Still, there's something to be said about the movement's intent, which was intended as "an opposition to purism, biased supremacy and corporate bullying," adding that the group's goal is to promote the building of "cross-browser, cross-platform applications using the best technologies available, to create the best user experiences possible." Flash is "supported by all major desktop browsers," they state, .and "powers some amazing experiences that work consistently across all of the major browsers in a way that cannot be replicated without Flash technology."

On the general Web, however, the nails appear to be in the coffin for Flash: as of June 30th, Google would no longer accept Flash-based ads -- it's clearly an HTML5 world at this point.

Flash was originally launched as Macromedia Flash in 1997, and the latest release of Flash Player from Adobe (version 23) took place this month. The technology paved the way in introducing rich internet applications, animation and special effects to the Web.

For those making the transition from Flash to HTML5, Monotype recently issued an e-book outlining the fundamentals. While the ebook is targeted at the online marketing sector, there are guidelines for anyone across the enterprise to digest. Namely, switching from Flash to HTML5 has its challenges. The good news is "HTML5 is grounded in coding languages that will be familiar to many people,so the learning curve isn't as steep as it would be in an entirely new system. Ultimately HTML5 leads to a more streamlined workflow that saves time and headaches down the line, so any upfront challenges will be worthwhile in the long term."

Flash may be near death, but long live amazing user experiences.

(Disclosure: I have conducted project work over the past 12 months for Adobe, mentioned in this article, as part of my research work. Nothing to do with Flash, however.)

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