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HTML5 vs. Flash : The Community Has Spoken


One of the hottest debates raging through the online design and development communities right now is the HTML5 versus Flash discussion, and it seems that most of the people that I have talked to have already chosen sides. There are so many in the community avidly touting the death of their least favorite technology in this battle for the future domination of the web as we know it. This is not a new debate by any stretch, in fact, you can find echoes of this battle reaching back for a couple of years now. However, with the recent explosion of the mobile web and Apple’s latest product introductions, this debate has reignited with new fervor and testing of brand loyalties.

The online community certainly has their favorites and this debate has played heavily on those personal preferences to pit developer vs. developer, designer vs. designer, and developer vs. designer as this argument continues to unnecessarily divide the masses. The web is a dynamic and evolving playing field whose scope and capacity change near annually, so naturally these kinds of tech battles are going to be present, but what we have to remember is that these battles do not settle the issue. They do not declare the winner, they simply split the community into arguable factions who rant and rave, push and pull, to get the brand that holds their loyalty to rise the victor.

The Crux of the Situation

The situation seems to be a volatile one, all stemming from the fact that these two technologies have some overlap. This has many on both sides of the fence decrying that the other is useless and no longer has a role to play in the future of the web. Both sides have their reasons, however, most of those reasons are minor contextual instances of the app not fully functioning properly or as effortlessly as they would like, rather than an evaluation of the entire scope and functionality of either participant in this fight for dominance. When this full evaluation is made, we see a different narrative begin to surface.

But still the battle rages between those standing on either side of this fence, and we have to wonder if much of this comes down to posturing. Because while the debate between individuals carries on, those looking at the testing and performance evaluations have a different take on which one will prevail as the web continues its evolution. So it does not seem the like the proverbial jury is still out on this subject as much as they are just wondering why they are even here in the first place. Below are a several links gathered from around the web to show how this battle is really playing out.


From across the vast sea of cyberspace, I went in search of those who have evaluated HTML5 and from these experiments have concluded that the winner of this fight will be HTML5. After reading Mashable’s Web Faceoff between Flash and HTML5, I honestly believed that HTML5 would come out on top. Or at least that is what the poll was indicating with over 60% of the participants came down on the HTML5 side. With its capabilities of easily embedding video and audio into your web applications, HTML5 has been hailed as the ‘Flash Killer’, but the results show things differently. In fact, there were not many articles that held to this assassination assumption once the testing began, below are a couple of the ones I came across.

Thoughts on Flash

Steve Jobs list of ‘reasons’ why Flash no longer has a place in the future of the web.

HTML5 vs Flash: An Open Letter to Adobe


Now that we have looked at a couple of the articles hailing HTML5 as the eventual victor of this battle for market dominance, we have a few that landed on the other side when the testing began. And while Flash seems to have had more supporters writing about their expected success once the dust has settled, it is important to point out that Flash has been filling this role for longer than HTML5 and so naturally one would expect more people to come out in favor of Flash. With so many already dedicated to this app and so many who have devoted their time and energy to learning how to master it, it is easy to understand the push for its victory. But that does not always translate to what is best, as much as it does translate to what is easiest. And this should be a debate about functionality not familiarity.

Does HTML5 Really Beat Flash? Surprising Results of New Tests

HTML5 vs Flash: What You Haven’t Heard

Speed Test: Flash vs HTML5 on the Nexus One

Flashlab’s Look at HTML5

Both Have their Place

Somewhat surprisingly (especially if you follow the fervor of the debate), what most of the articles that have been published on this fight for the future have deduced, is that when the dust settles, both HTML5 and Flash will be left standing. Perhaps they will be holding smaller shares of the online video and audio markets than were initially projected, but the consensus seems to be that they will both have roles in the future of the design and development communities. From the testing that has been done so far, and with the thoughtful evaluations of both competing technologies the resounding winner seems that a shared landscape is the future, rather than a more exclusive one with either Flash or HTML5 shutting out the other.

HTML5 vs Flash

HTML5 vs Flash: The Video Benchmark Deathmatch

The Future of Web Content: HTML5, Flash, and Mobile Apps

HTML5 vs Flash

HTML vs. Flash: Can a turf war be avoided?

HTML5 vs. Flash: The case for Flash

HTML5 And Flash: Why It’s Not A War, And Why Flash Won’t Die

HTML5 vs Flash

Flash vs HTML5: What You Need to Know

Flash and Standards: The Cold War of the Web

See for Yourself

Below are a few more links that you can investigate for yourself so that you can see some of the creative comparison models that have been presented throughout the web. If you thought you already had your mind made up, take a look at the following links and you just might find your preference slightly shifting.

GUIMark 2: The rise of HTML5

Shows some in-depth testing of the two technologies.

HTML5 vs Flash

A tumblog dedicated to side by side comparisons of both in action.

HTML5 vs Flash? Pick a side with ‘Pong’

It is a fun way to decide for yourself which you prefer through a playable Pong game created with each.

Flash vs HTML5 Canvas Drawing

It is an interesting comparison of drawing in both.

Show Me Whatcha Got! HTML5 vs Flash Showcase

In The End

Both HTML5 and Flash have their draws as well as their drawbacks at this point, but the bottom line is that they are both versatile technologies that are not limited to the overlapping functionalities they possess. Therefore, the design and development communities will have to adapt to the changes that are sure to occur, but will those changes end in the extinction of one of these two competitors for the future? More than likely, no. They will eventually settle into their niches and continue to feed the overall beast that is the internet. If there is to be an extinction level event that shapes the future of our playing field with regards to either of these two technologies, then we are still far from that reality’s head rearing itself into our paths. And I suspect that it would occur for reasons we have yet to discover.

  • HTML5 vs. Flash : The Community Has Spoken
    [See the full post at: HTML5 vs. Flash : The Community Has Spoken]

  •  Mark Bailey

    I think there is room for both. Were HTML5 may win in usability, Flash wins out in versatility.

  •  Johnny Ryall

    Here's the thing… Flash will always be around. When you can't do something with HTML5-&-CSS3, you use Flash. Plain and simple. The reason everyone hates Flash (besides the fact the whatever Jobs says, goes) is because so many idiots are using it wrong. Use it when it's necessary and not because it's easy.

  •  Joeycrzy4u

    Um, this “blog” was useless as it contained little if no original thought, analysis or content, but rather is a regurgitation of what already exists out there in the form of other people's thoughts, studies, and writings.

  •  Rob Bowen

    Um, I think you mean blog post, the blog is the entire site, so…

    And given the amount of info out there, there was no new analysis needed, and nothing new to say. If you are that concerned then point us to your analysis of the issue and we can talk. Til then, thank for playing!

  •  Rob Bowen

    Exactly! If nothing else, flash based gaming is more than likely not going anywhere so it will always have a place.

  •  Eddie Rifkind

    I think it's funny that Apple's own Safari browser won't play HTML5 video on a Windows platform. Apple is just reinforcing Flash's dominance with moves like that. They took the time to make HTML5 work on Safari for Mac; they should have given that support to the Windows version while they were at it.

  •  Brett Widmann

    This was a really insightful article. I found a lot the info in here to very interesting.

  •  Anonymous

    After 100 million iPads have been sold (2013?), Flash will begin to look much less appealing to advertisers and THAT is when the death of Flash will begin…

  •  Rob

    These stories are ridiculous. Steve was right about Flash on phones. We use our phones for quick information grabs something that the Flash or “HTML 5” experience is not about. I loath the idea that as a developer I’m now thrown back into a wild west or wild jungle of competing browsers all with different support. We’ll be pining for the days of total control of of our designed user experience across all browsers and platforms if Flash disappears. Remember as far as the internet experience on laptops and desktops go Flash still has better than 90% penetration. There is little the same across all browsers and platforms right now for the amalgamation of technologies we endearingly label “HTML 5”


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