Q: What’s the Secret Power of Flash? A: Does It Need One?

Recently we have stumbled across a very interesting article My Thoughts on the Future of Flash by Flash developer Grant Skinner (that's really a great atricle by the way, Grant you totally rock!). So anyways Mr. Skinner gave what we thinks is a rather unusual in its clarity and very cogent point of view concerning the situation with Flash technology and its rivals.

You know, those are all simple things but after reading it all you really see that there's actually no war between Flash and HTML5, currently there's just not enough things we know to judge what's better. The best thing Mr. Skinner mentioned was that each technology will get what it deserves - that's where we as a community step in. If Technology A is better than Technology B, the community will abandon what's worse and stick with what they consider to be the best choice.

But anyways, all this huge discussion about pros and cons of the two rather different technologies (Flash and HTML5) has both positive and negative sides. Due to the "hyper' effect of social media this topic has achieved a status of a massive technology trend but it is clear that this PR campaign has some hidden peculiarities and targeted character (especially for the fans of the 'iRandom-Macros' products). The current situation shows that Flash has too many advantages which makes it hard to beat despite all those noble achievements of HTML5. So let's now stop guessing and for a moment take a look at what really is going on out there, because reality is now which makes it stronger than any predictions.

The Flash market share is the most important argument (again, you can't argue the reality of numbers). According to the Millward Brown survey conducted in December 2009 Flash content reaches 99% of Internet viewers (while HTML5 is only being supported by some 44% of browsers - not to mention the actual meager reach of Internet audience - basically there's almost no HTML5 content so far).

Creating RIA (rich Internet applications) makes Flash very powerful and successful technology in this sphere and attracts more talented developers. Don’t forget that Flash is a great tool that allows manipulating vector and raster graphics, implementing video and creating spectacular animations. Theoretically HTML5 can do that too but that would require a lot more time to implement it across major browsers and devices.

Flash is not a "CPU hog"! Jan Ozer from Streaming Learning Center has conducted a comparison research about CPU usage during Flash and HTML5 video playback. The result of this research:

Accordingly, the only browsers that could theoretically play both the HTML5 and Flash pages were Apple Safari and Google Chrome. I say theoretically, because in practice, the Windows version of Safari couldn't play the HTML5 YouTube page. To complete the picture, I also tested Firefox and Internet Explorer using the Flash plug-in. I tested on the Mac using a MacBook Pro (3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo, 8 GB RAM, OS 10.6.2) while testing on Windows using an Hewlett Packard 8710w mobile workstation (2.2 GHz Core 2 Duo system running 64-bit Windows 7 with 2 GB of RAM).

Below you can see results of this research.

Table 1 shows Mac results.

Table 2 shows Windows results.

As you can see results debunk the myth about Flash being the 'CPU hog' and even more – the Flash Player 10.1 demonstrates truly awesome CPU usage results comparing to HTML5. That's a great job from Adobe, now everybody actually wants Flash player 10.1.

Of course we can’t underestimate HTML5 and without a doubt it will be really interesting to watch after its further development as well as watching Flash evolution. And it is hard to believe that other technologies won’t face problems that Flash have faced – these are constant maintenance of taking care of backwards compatibility, effectiveness and cross-platform development, satisfying the demands of both users and developers. And that's only a small part of the problems you’ll face trying to build a really stunning technology that can beat Flash (whatever that would be - HTML5 or anything else). It doesn’t seem that HTML5 can resolve all these obstacles in few months. So we wait.

The point is that sometimes we can't blindly persecute someone just because everybody did. The perfect resolution to this rivalry is a normal coexistence of all technologies, without any media wars etc. And Grant Skinner was right saying that if you don’t want to see Flash content – just turns off the plugin and this will be your vote. And remember that behind this technology is a huge team of talented people that deserve some respect. So currently Flash is what we all work with and apparently will keep working with for years to come as it will apparently become better and better. And you know what? We're totally and absolutely fine with that! No sentiments, no politics, no PR - Flash is just better. As soon as HTML5 has something better to say than what it has now - we're all here for it, with arms wide open!

P.S. This post is not sponsored by Grant Skinner and TemplateMonster is in no way affiliated with Grant (even though he's a kick-ass Flash expert). It's just that we really enjoyed his post.

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Edward Korcheg

Edward is a professional technical writer who is also passionate about making stunning designs in Photoshop. You can find many useful tutorials in his collection of articles at MonsterMost.

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