HTML5 is being hailed as the new age of the web and few would argue that it fills in some of the gaps in Flash and Silverlight but what does this mean to web designers? Is it necessary to rewrite existing web applications in HTML5? Do you still need Flash and Silverlight? If you don’t already have HTML5 skills, do you need to learn them quickly to avoid being left behind? There are many things to consider when determining the answers to these questions.
First of all, HTML5 is an open standard resource and, as such, will likely take years for complete development and implementation. It will also take years for some companies to get to it. It is predicted that it may take up to a decade for HTML5 to become a completely workable platform. Also, as of now, some browsers support HTML5 features and some don’t so it will take time for it to become an across-the-board standard among web developers. Finally, many major companies, including YouTube, are currently based on Flash or Silverlight platforms and will have to make a major expenditure of both time and money to transfer over to HTML5.
Many HTML5 proponents stress that this platform runs far more efficiently than Flash but that truthfully depends on the type of browser you are using. In tests, CPU usage by Flash was greatly affected by the availability of hardware acceleration and some browsers couldn’t even access HTML5 videos so it is difficult to get a definitive set of results. Also, while HTML5 allows users to run video without the use of a plugin, there is a major obstacle in its path. So far, browser vendors have not been able to agree on which codec to use with the video tags. It seems to be a toss-up between Ogg Theora, which is open and royalty-free, and H.264, which must be licensed but is infinitely more efficient than Theora. Add to this the fact that HTML5 still can’t efficiently complete many of the tasks Flash can like video conferencing, live video and audio recording and others and it becomes clear that Flash isn’t finished just yet.
As for Silverlight, even Microsoft stated in a blog to developers that Silverlight is still the way to go for the Windows phone as well as rich, plugin-based apps. Microsoft also stressed that HTML5 is a wonderful new tool designed to bridge the gap between different operating systems but that both platforms may be necessary depending on the task you wish to accomplish. As of now, Silverlight goes much further than HTML5 and will probably be an important tool for developers for many years to come.
The truth is that Flash and Silverlight are still a step ahead of HTML5 and are a huge power on the web. Additionally, many developers and companies are heavily invested in these platforms and may not be ready to abandon them completely just yet. Considering the foothold of Flash and Silverlight combined with the fact that they will continue to be expanded and improved during HTML5’s development, the chances of them ever being replaced is nearly nonexistent. So, while it may be a good idea to become familiar with the use of HTML5 for your web development needs, hang on to the old standards as well. They aren’t going away anytime soon.
This article has been contributed by Dhruv Kapoor from Offshore Ally. He works as virual assistant and link builder in premier company. Dhruv likes to spend his time reading about the new developments in technology and gaming. Connect with him via Twitter.