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JANUARY 29, 2010   

Will HTML5 and CSS3 kill Flash?

I'm not dumb enough to dive into these controversy-infested waters myself, so I'll let Eric Meyer, author and HTML/CSS guru, answer the question.

Eric was responding to a question from the audience at a recent talk at Cuyahoga Community College's Web Work / Web Wisdom series.

Eric's answer in short: HTML, CSS plus Javascript can do pretty much anything that Flash can do, but are way behind in terms of having a good authoring environment.

Designer Tyler Sticka makes a similar argument on his blog:

We are watching the capabilities of HTML and CSS progress more rapidly (and with farther-reaching effect) than their rich media cousins. In a Web where the capabilities of Flash and HTML are roughly equivalent (or perhaps even lopsided), the choice will be abundantly clear.

Other designers, including my colleague Angela, think that it's a little early to say goodbye to Flash. She points to the rich—sometimes stunning—interactive environments seen on the Flash-centric website The FWA and notes: "it'll be some time before we see *that* happening in semantic code, if ever!"

I see her point.

Section of TheFWA About pageOn the other hand, when I tried to learn more about TheFWA.com I was smacked in the eyes—literally—by one of the egregious Flash violations of web functionality that happens all too often.

The site's designers created the tiny dot-matrix text in Flash. Since I have a very tough time reading it I should be able to hit Command - (+) to make the text larger. Nope. Doesn't work.

Well, maybe I could select the text and paste it into a Word document and make it bigger. Nope. Can't select it either. It's locked inside of Flash. The statement that "The FWA interface is scaleable to the nth degree" doesn't apply to text size.

Combine inflexible text with Flash sites that either take over my entire screen, lock the window size so I can't adjust it, or have their own spiffy scroll bars that don't respond to the scroll wheel on my mouse and I get pretty cranky about Flash websites. I'm cheering for HTML/CSS.

More on HTML5 and CSS3

15 Useful Resources: Good collection of articles and tutorials from LIne25.com.

What You Need To Know About Behavioral CSS: Using CSS for transformations (rotate, scale, translate), transitions and animations, from Smashingmagazine.com

Introduction to HTML5: A video by Google developer Brad Neuberg gives a technical overview of what HTML5 can do. Be ready for some serious geek-speak.

Flash and mobile devices

Another take on the long-term survival of Flash comes from game developer Michael Pinto, who points to the lack of support for Flash on many smartphones, including, of course, the mega-popular iPhone:

Mobile devices are the frontier for new media (as we use to call it) and if you’re a Flash developer the problem is that Apple, Google, Microsoft and even Palm have no vested interest in helping Adobe.

What do you think?

Not everyone is ready to toss Flash out the window. One response to the Google video put it pretty bluntly: "How do you create character animations (i.e. walking, talking, lip-synched characters) with HTML5 or Ajax? That's right. You fu@%ing can't."

What's your take on this? Please add your comment below.

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