Flash VS. HTML5 – Choosing the Right Platform for your Startup Business Site

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Virtual visuals are everything nowadays in the business world, and for every startup business, the creation and maintenance of a great website can help you start off on the right foot. However, choosing the right platform to build your website on can be difficult.

Two of the top visual web platforms today are Adobe Flash and HTML5. Flash has been around for nearly 20 years, and looks to be sticking around for a while because it is still massively used worldwide by over a billion people to create stunning visuals such as animation, sounds, and video. HTML5, on the other hand, is a fairly new open-source platform that also aims to showcase visual, audio, and interactive site content. Adobe appears to be playing nice with HTML5, releasing Flash to HTML5 conversion software such as Wallaby and Edge in 2011, which make Flash-made sites accessible to the mobile devices not supported by Flash.


The question of which one is “the best” of the two is a topic that has been strongly debated for years as HTML5 continues to make strides in its development as the go-to platform. Here are some of the views on the Flash vs. HTML5 battle:

Accessibility

Flash runs on operating systems such as Windows, Linux, and Android, and have even run on gaming devices like the Wii, Playstation 3, and the PSP. In general, Flash is supported by almost all web browsers, whereas HTML5 is fully supported by only 40% of the browsers in the market today (although many browsers today are working to integrate HTML5). However, Flash is no longer supported by many mobile devices like phones and tablets.

Backward Compatibility

Even old applications can still work effectively with the latest Flash versions. HTML5, however, is not compatible with old browser versions and require the assistance of shims/shivs to work properly.

Security

Getting to source codes isn’t easy with Flash because the code is contained in an SWF file, which has several layers of encryption. To obtain the source code in HTML5, all you need to do is click on View Source on your browser—making a site extremely easy to hack.

Plug-ins

Users are required to download the Flash plug-in to browsers before they can view Flash sites or animation—although some browsers already have this plug-in pre-installed. HTML5 eliminates the need for that; however, HTML5 support is browser-dependent, so sites do not run in the same way on every browser. Audio support is also limited on many browsers.

Control

Flash is completely controlled by Adobe Systems—thus, its progress is dictated by a single body. HTML5 is controlled by a committee (WHATWG), and the three companies that make up this committee are Opera Software, Apple, and the Mozilla Foundation. As a result, the development of HTML5 is dictated more by public opinion and the learned feedback of a variety of web development professionals.

Designer-friendliness

Flash websites are easier to build because the tools and techniques are already well-established and honed to excellence. With HTML5, web developers need to worry about design aspects, such as redraw regions, and are required to maintain more code via 3rd party libraries in order to maintain high-level performance.

Price

For a startup company, building an HTML5 site can more expensive than building a Flash site. Although Adobe tools are expensive, HTML5 takes longer to build. As a new platform, HTML5 is still full of bugs, can be slow, and requires a lot of assistance from other programming languages and external tools.

Memory usage

Running Flash takes up more memory than HTML5 and can be slow on devices with less capable processors.

Battery maintenance

Using Flash drains your device’s juice quickly because it requires much more power.

SEO

Flash files cannot be read by search engine “spiders”, thus limiting your search engine presence if your best content is in Flash. HTML5 files, on the other hand, are plain text files, so they can be picked up by spiders.

Most company websites continue to rely on Flash because of its proven quality and superior performance. However, HTML5 is still in its beta testing stage (the platform will not be officially released until around 2014-2015 at the earliest) and is expected to improve continuously as it is integrated more fully into more browsers. Thus, Flash is slowly becoming a thing of the past and HTML5 is being lauded as the new standard for many developers.

A cutting-edge startup site incorporates the best of both platforms by using conversion software to make its content user-friendly and visible all across the board.

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