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HTML 5 As a Viable Alternative To Flash? 541

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the frameworks-should-be-open dept.
superglaze writes "Jon von Tetzchner, Opera's CEO, has claimed that the open standards in HTML 5 will make it unnecessary to deliver rich media content using the proprietary Flash. '"You can do most things with web standards today," von Tetzchner said. "In some ways, you may say you don't need Flash." Von Tetzchner added that his comments were not about "killing" Flash. "I like Adobe — they're a nice company," he said. "I think Flash will be around for a very, very long time, but I think it's natural that web standards also evolve to be richer. You can then choose whether you'd like [to deliver rich media content] through web standards or whether you'd like to use Flash."'"
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HTML 5 As a Viable Alternative To Flash?

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  • I'll say it, then. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gary W. Longsine (124661) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:35PM (#28058195) Homepage Journal
    Kill flash. Kill it stone cold dead.
  • Options (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aero2600-5 (797736) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:35PM (#28058197)
    More options is always a good thing.

    But I can't imagine HTML 5 being capable of something like this [nin.com].

    Aero
  • Someday maybe. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:38PM (#28058229) Homepage Journal

    How long until HTML 5 is supported in every browser?
    The "good" thing about Flash is that it is a plug in. Flash can be added to just about every browser by downloading a plug in.
    HTML 5 will take a lot longer to get into every browser.
    I really don't like Flash or plug-ins but in this case it is an advantage and will be for a long time to come.
    Oh and NOBODY except Slashdot will write to a standard that IE doesn't support.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:44PM (#28058293)

    Datagrid or not, if your site requires flash for anything other than playing sound or video files, then it is more than likely I will not spend much time there.

  • by koala_dude (1104777) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:45PM (#28058299)
    "Now, I know a lot of people are going to argue with me, but the most important tag in HTML is . Every single graphical trick done to either speed up or sexify your web site is done with tables inside tables inside tables--it's tables all the way down!...When's the last time you laid out a site without a table element on every page?" Whoa, I haven't done than since IE4 / Netscape 4.7 days. I use tables for tabular data, very rarely for layout. I'm quite positive I'm not alone in this. While there are a number of Javascript-based datagrid controls available, it would be good to have some sort of standardized control as part of the standard definition.
  • Flash uses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Parker Lewis (999165) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:46PM (#28058315)

    In current days, Flash is only used to:

    - Casual games;
    - Boring add banners, like "hit the monkey";
    - Video players;
    - Webpages menus, when the designer has no know-how to use CSS/Javascript.

    Excluding games, all uses can be replaced by web-standards (even videos, in next-generation browsers).

  • by DeafZombie (1144079) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:47PM (#28058331) Homepage

    But as someone who's thrown together more than a few web applications in my time, I'd like to talk to you about what I'm really excited about--the datagrid element [w3.org]. Now, I know a lot of people are going to argue with me, but the most important tag in HTML is <table>. Every single graphical trick done to either speed up or sexify your web site is done with tables inside tables inside tables--it's tables all the way down! When's the last time you laid out a site without a table element on every page? Hell, it's almost always the next thing to follow <body> on my pages. And you know the code I write to interact dynamically with that table is a bitch. An unmaintainable mess. Yeah, there's probably some library out there I could use to simplify that pain but it always comes down to me messing around with advanced Javascript code trying to squeeze some more functionality into the user's interaction with that table. "Oh, I want this box to highlight red when this happens!" a user might say. Everyone wants a "simple table" with Google Spreadsheets functionality.

    Well, although I am not one of the people who thinks people who use tables for layout should all go to hell, I do prefer to NOT use them. I can say that I've written a few web apps myself (and still do) and use tables only for data representation. And I am comfortable to say I am not alone... take a look at, for instance, /.'s source. Another beautiful example of tableless layout can be found at Zen Garden [csszengarden.com]

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:50PM (#28058367) Homepage Journal
    "In some ways, you may say you don't need Flash."

    I can't tell you how many times I've come across a site which uses Flash to show a single, individual picture. Not a stream of pictures. Not a mosaic of pictures. Not a slideshow of pictures. One picture.

    WTF? You're telling me it's easier to code a Flash object to display that one picture than it is to throw in a link to the picture? Seriously?

    Then you have those sites which insist on having their front page as Flash-only. Brilliant. Just brilliant. How the hell am I supposed to find anything on your site if there is no way to save that link for future reference?

    Flash is ugly, slow and just plain annoying. Almost as annoying as punch the monkey. Web designers who rely on Flash to do their work should have their knuckles pounded with a five pound cast-iron doorstop dropped from a height of ten feet then made to punch a punching bag.

    Hopefully HTML 5 will cure the web of this illness.
  • by afidel (530433) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:52PM (#28058389)
    Adobe gave us PostScipt, PDF, and SWF formats as open standards, that alone gives them the nice company seal from me =)
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:54PM (#28058405) Journal
    How do you handle centering objects vertically inside divs?
  • by Tronster (25566) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:55PM (#28058425) Homepage

    HTML5 has a lot of potential, but adoption above and beyond Flash (or Silverlight, etc...) will depend on 2 factors:
    1. Implementation Penetration
    2. Authoring Tools

    Flash's strength is in the tools more than the language(s), Actionscript and MXML. For every 1 Flash "programmer" I meet, I know about 10 people who know Flash well enough to make graphics and simple script work on the time line.

    If a majority of the browser users have HTML5 support, and a killer app exists for editing content; I would then put weight towards the possibility of HTML5 trumping Flash.

  • by hesiod (111176) on Friday May 22, 2009 @02:55PM (#28058431)

    CSS has some nasty cross-browser problems that tables do not, making them far easier than CSS for many things, assuming you can do them in CSS at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:07PM (#28058573)
    Its about time. Down with Flash.
  • by Tyler Eaves (344284) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:14PM (#28058647)

    Don't twist history. The reason flash took over web video is because vistors tired of WMV/QT codec hell.

  • by omnichad (1198475) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:19PM (#28058727) Homepage
    vertical-align: middle;

    Or how about:
    margin-top: auto;
    margin-bottom: auto;

    Should I go on?
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:25PM (#28058807)

    It's unlikely Internet Explorer will die any time soon. So unless the Microsoft developers somehow magically start putting together a browser that is current in support of web standards, Flash and its brethren will never die. It doesn't matter how great the HTML5 support is in Gecko (Firefox) and Webkit (Chrome, Safari) - as long as IE continues to lag, we're stuck ("we" meaning those of us who code pages for the real world).

  • In my various attempts to use vertical-align: middle; it's never worked :/
  • SMIL? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cxreg (44671) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:28PM (#28058859) Homepage Journal

    Isn't this was SMIL was supposed to deliver? Is that dead now?

  • I don't understand this statement "Tables lock your user into your content via your specific design" in that, how else are they going to view it?

    Through a screen reader [wikipedia.org], maybe? In which case your table layout will completely fail, because screen readers expect the contents of TABLE tags to be, you know, tabular data.

    You need to understand that blind and vision-impaired people will be among those "viewing" your page, and design accordingly. [diveintoac...bility.org]

  • by JoeytheSquid (1460229) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:30PM (#28058885)
    Don't just blame the designers, plenty of times it's the clients too. I've been a web designer for the last decade and to this point I've never once built a "Flash website". However I get asked to do this several times a week. In fact I just walked out of a meeting where the client wants one of those live video gimmicks where the spokesperson walks onto the screen and starts speaking, "Hello and welcome to our website." Because everyone loves talking websites, am I right?

    As a developer this leaves me with two options. I can roll over, take the extra cash and add in the bells and whistles or I can try to keep the project grounded and focused on things like content, usability and SEO. The problem is you can only argue the point so much and, I'm sorry, but usability, just isn't sexy. Moreover when I refuse to give the customer the giant animated American Flag with their favorite Toby Keith song playing in the background, they'll shop around until they find a developer who will.

    So the next time you come across an obnoxious website, curse not only the developer who built it, but also the client who approved it. :-)
  • by Trerro (711448) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:36PM (#28058965)

    Flash is Flash. Period. If your Flash file works in IE, it works in FF, Opera, Safari, etc. It requires a plugin sure, but it's one that's almost universally adopted.

    By comparison just about everything else is developed in 2 phases:
    1. Write standards-compliant code that's well-formatted and works properly.
    2. Fix about 37,000 IE-only bugs, knowing that ~70% of your users are going to be viewing your site with that piece of crap. Additional time is required because IE6 and 7 aren't even consistent with each other in terms of how they piss on the standards. This is especially true with CSS, which IE is absolutely terrible with.

    I welcome HTML 5, as I think it has a lot of nice improvements, as well as a lot of stuff that should've been there years ago. We just have to pray that browser support - especially from MS - actually allows us to USE the new features on a regular basis.

    Also, one side note: Even assuming Flash is no longer used AT ALL for layouts or content delivery (and I hope it isn't), Flash movies and games will of course continue to exist... so Flash isn't going to die as some are saying, it'll simply be used for what it was actually designed for - creating animations and games.

  • by qortra (591818) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:38PM (#28058985)
    Mods: Flamebait, really? I resonate so much with this sentiment. Some mortal sins of flash:
    • Proprietary
    • *Extremely* poor client support from Adobe. Example: still no stable version of native 64-bit flash for all platforms. Seriously, it's 2009 people.
    • Often, the lack copy/paste using the browser
    • Often, the lack of the ability to save presented media (images,videos) using the browser
    • The difficulty of crawling/indexing sites with flash content

    One might argue that Adobe should just solve these problems. However, Flash has been around for quite a while - if they haven't fixed these things by now, are they really ever going to? I think not. So, I agree with Gary: can we please start killing it now?

  • by selven (1556643) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:43PM (#28059059)
    Screenshots + 10 seconds in GIMP?
  • xhtml to die? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pizzach (1011925) <pizzachNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:47PM (#28059113) Homepage

    Sigh. I really hope that HTML5 is somewhat similar to xhtml. I really do believe it went in the right direction in general. Even with xhtml strict pages not displaying at all if they had some unclosed tags. It all in general was working toward having authors writing better, more interpolatable pages.

    Is xhtml dead? Will the applicable changes in html5 make it back to xhtml? I get the feeling that MS never implemented xhtml strict because they didn't want to drop the ability to extend it.

  • Sarcasm much? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by acidrainx (806006) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:48PM (#28059119) Homepage

    I can't decide whether your post should be wrapped in <sarcasm> tags or not. Absolutely everything you have said goes against modern HTML/CSS/JS best practices. The table element should only be used for displaying... wait for it... tabular data!

    Also, why would you think Flex was free when there are clearly marked "Buy Now" links all over the Adobe product page? Yes there is a free SDK available, but anybody with any sense at all would know that Adobe is a company that makes money. I just don't know why you switched your whole project over to Flex when you hadn't even spent more than 5 minutes researching it.

    I'd like to know the name of the company you work for so that I can know to steer clear.

  • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@ g m ail.com> on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:51PM (#28059157)

    Not just that, but it may not even be necessary for the device to do anything terribly smart. If you can detect that it's a mobile device on the server-side, you can feed it a different style sheet that will change how it displays so it's more mobile-friendly. Same content, different CSS.

    Try that with your nested tables.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:24PM (#28059447)

    The reason people do this is is to stop you from right clicking on the image and saving it.

    Printscreen > paste into gimp > crop and save, mofo's! Feels good every time I do it.

  • Re:Flash uses (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:26PM (#28059463)

    Yes, if an open source Flash implementation existed it would be cross-platform, not horribly slow (Flash 10 can't consistently play full screen videos smoothly on my Core 2 Q6600; mplayer can play the same videos with no trouble, optionally without touching my CPU (my graphics card accelerates h264, why does Flash insist on using its own inefficient codecs?)), and actually integrate properly with the browser: usually Flash "web sites" don't let me select text or even middle-click to open a new tab for links (some Javascript websites have that issue, too).

    The real problem with flash is I don't care what the designer wants the website to look like. I want to be able to view the freaking website content. I want to be able to use my own font size and anti-aliasing settings. I probably don't want parts of the web page randomly animated. Basically, every web site design I have seen done in Flash (and certainly a few others) have been done by people who do not have a clue about making a usable website and just want their website to look like an animated magazine ad or something equally awful.

  • by grassy_knoll (412409) on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:29PM (#28059511) Homepage

    And that works because screenshots are hard? o_O

  • Re:xhtml to die? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:23PM (#28060057)

    xhtml and html are different families of markup.

    xhtml is from the xml family and html is from the sgml family

    They look similar but understanding the difference will save you a lot of headaches. For one, if it doesn't have an xml preamble and mimetype, you aren't really serving xhtml and you'd be wise to not expect it to be handled as such.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:27PM (#28060103) Journal
    You know what, if it were truly possible to divide content from the presentation, I would be the happiest man in the world right now. The unfortunate reality of the matter is, it's not, at least with the current incarnation of CSS and HTML.

    At the end of the day, on most websites, the thing that matters IS the presentation (otherwise the only tags we'd need were h, a, and p). If you can't align one image correctly next to another one, then that is a problem. If you have to sacrifice your design vision at all, then that is a failure of the system. No one coming to your website cares if you've managed to separate the design from the content, that is purely a matter of making life easier for the programmer. If the system can't support the design vision, then it has failed.

    Although I do like the idea of CSS, it's the implementation that has failed. Also, it would be great if we could have variables. As in $text="Put your long interesting content here" and then be able to put it anywhere you want on the page. It would be so much easier to read and move stuff around that way.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:36PM (#28060193) Journal
    All else being equal, easier == better.
  • by weston (16146) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:45PM (#28060287) Homepage

    Through a screen reader, maybe? In which case your table layout will completely fail because screen readers expect the contents of TABLE tags to be, you know, tabular data.

    You need to understand that blind and vision-impaired people will be among those "viewing" your page, and design accordingly.

    I'd be pretty surprised if screen readers simply and universally fail when they encounter tables that are used for layout. Many of them have existed for a long time, certainly back into the 1990s, and not being able to handle table layouts would have rendered them useless for most of the web for a long time. And while making distinctions between data and layout uses for tables may not be purely deterministic, it's hardly an intractable problem. Something as simple as Lynx has been able to make some distinctions since 1999, well enough that most of the web turns out to accessible using it. I can't believe there aren't screen readers who can't do at least that well.

    And if you can do that, what you mostly get without the layout table is generally a source-ordered linear reading of page sections corresponding to table cell... just like you'd get with any other document without repurposed table markup, albeit with sections determined by other tags. CSS gives you some flexibility in terms visual layouts you can create that aren't tied to the source order, which is nice, but it's hardly a disaster not to have this.

    My own observation is that it's other things that present real obstacles to page accessibility/semantics: navigation that's only visible via flash or javascript, images or other media without fallback text, abuse of HTML entities, lack of access keys. Table layout? Not so much.

  • Re:xhtml to die? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:50PM (#28060333)

    XHTML was nothing but a giant waste of time. Microsoft never supported it in IE, and when you think about it: why should they have? XHTML gives you absolutely nothing you didn't already have in HTML 4, it was just a bigger pain-in-the-ass to implement.

  • by Jack Sombra (948340) on Friday May 22, 2009 @06:28PM (#28060683)
    HTML 5 As a Viable Alternative To Flash? Not really, for one simple reason Flash/Silverlight are controled by their respective plug in's/api's and so forth. Thus no worrys about how something will render if one person is using one browser and another is using something else On the other hand, HTML is controled by the browser and each will do things a little different, either because they have not fully followed standards (MS) or they have added extras in a attempt to out do each other (all of them) Thus there will be always a place for things like flash/SL as with them content is delivered exactly as the designer/developer intended not how the browser decides to interpret it
  • by JOrgePeixoto (853808) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:34PM (#28061863) Journal

    Datagrid or not, if your site requires flash for anything other than playing sound or video files, then it is more than likely I will not spend much time there

    Absolutely. And it is not just for being unavailable to disabled people, slow, insecure, buggy, destroyer of the control a user has about the navigation (top-of-the-head example: if a menu is implemented in flash, how do you choose whether to open a menu entry in a new tab or new window?), bandwidth-wasting, proprietary, restricted and not class-platform; it is also about the content.

    There is a very strong negative correlation between the usefulness of a site and the amount of bling in it.

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook [cia.gov] : no Flash; javascript unnecessary
    http://www.c-faq.com/ [c-faq.com] : no Flash; no javascript
    http://news.google.com/ [google.com] : no Flash ; javascript not necessary
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/ [bbc.co.uk] : Fash restricted to the videos ; javascript unnecessary

    Now compare this to a typical teenager-oriented website: even menus are Flash. They choose Flash both
    for things that make 0 sense being flash (like menus) and for things that may be easier with Flash, but are almost always a big waste of time. They think a website needs to animate every other element.

    The one positive aspect in Flash is that it its use warns you against the quality of the content before you waste your time loading and reading it.

  • by Godwin O'Hitler (205945) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @06:50AM (#28065575) Homepage Journal

    #centered-element {

            position: absolute;

            top: -50%;

            left: -50%;
    }

    Would it really have broken CSS if they'd included something like

    #centered-element {

            position: centered;
    }

    or even

    #centered-element {

            position: absolute;

            center: 0;

    }

    Having to know and use arcane stuff like margin:auto is totally absurd.

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