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App Development
7 minutes read

HTML5 Vs. Flash

By Jose Gomez
By Jose Gomez
App Development
7 minutes read

HTML5 vs. Flash is the latest comparison that app developers need to seriously consider when building mobile and web applications. If you’re only vaguely familiar with HTML5 and Flash, you’re likely wondering how these two technologies overlap. There is a large overlap between these two, and there is a clear choice that is better for playing audio and video on web pages and mobile devices. 

Let’s get a better understanding of HTML5 and Flash, compare the two of them, and see which technology is the better choice for your audio and video needs. 

Understanding HTML5 and Flash

Before we can really begin to compare HTML5 and Flash, we need to have a better understanding of each of these technologies and how they are used in web design

HTML5

HTML5 is a markup language that is used for structuring and presenting the content that appears on the World Wide Web. HTML5 is one of three core technologies of the World Wide Web, and as the name suggests, it is the fifth version of HTML. The major improvements to HTML5 included multimedia support. 

All major web browsers and mobile browsers have great support for HTML5. This markup language is human-readable, and HTML5 is backward compatible with previous versions of the language, so developers don’t have to worry about updating every line of their HTML to HTML5. 

Flash

Adobe Flash is best known for powering audio and video players and other interactive web content. Adobe Flash was built to give web developers the ability to design and create immersive User Experiences that exceeded standard conventions. It is a multimedia software platform primarily used for embedded video players in web browsers, producing animations, and building interactive web apps. 

Flash uses containers to store interactive content. These containers, which are platform-independent, are rendered in the web browser using a Flash player. Flash players were the dominant force in audio and video web content in the 2000s through the bulk of the next decade.

HTML5 Vs. Flash: How Do They Differ? 

The improvements made to HTML5 have made it a lot more capable of handling multimedia content. This has put HTML5 and Flash in direct competition with one another, and over the last few years, a clear winner has emerged in the competition. Let’s see how these two compare. A few of the points we will compare are:

  • Support 
  • Performance
  • Resource use 
  • Age 
  • Cost

Support 

Support is essential for any technology, whether it be a piece of hardware, a software solution, or a programming language. The more support a technology has, the easier it is for developers and users to use. 

HTML5 is natively supported by practically all web browsers. On the other hand, Adobe Flash requires a plug-in to be installed in order for the Flash player to function. If installing a separate plug-in wasn’t inconvenient enough, the Adobe Flash player has a number of well-documented issues:

  • It crashes frequently
  • There are security concerns 
  • Incompatible with iOS

To make matters worse for Flash, the latest web browsers are no longer even supporting it, and mobile browsers don’t even attempt to support Flash in any capacity anymore. 

Performance 

Users hate waiting for pages and content to load. This fact puts a premium on performance. HTML5 outperforms Flash. HTML5 is very lightweight. It runs and loads fast and takes a small amount of CPU to render web pages. 

Adobe Flash is very heavy in comparison to HTML5, and it requires a large amount of CPU to render web content. When comparing HTML5 and Flash, HTML5 is able to render web pages faster. 

Resource Use 

Besides performance speed, CPU-intensive technologies like Flash use far more resources than lightweight options like HTML5. What does this mean from a practical user standpoint? Resource heavy technologies like Flash are a drain on a device’s battery life. 

HTML5 is lighter on resources because it doesn’t require a plug-in like Flash player. Whether you’re building a web page, a native app, or a cross-platform app, you will want to be conscious of how your app uses resources. This will have a major impact on the User Experience and whether or not people love or leave your app. 

Age

Flash is far older than HTML5. In the technology world, we often prioritize the latest advancements, but sometimes the old ways are the best ways. However, this is not the case with Flash and HTML5.

HTML5 is still evolving and gaining capabilities. Flash, on the other hand, is more or less dead (we will explain why in more detail later). There are a number of Flash tools available from Adobe, but new capabilities and tools are not being created for Flash. 

If you’re not busy innovating and improving your technology, you are asking for obsolescence. 

Cost

If the above points weren’t enough to bury Flash when compared to HTML5, the final nail in the coffin is that you actually have to pay to use Flash. Adobe owns Flash. It is a proprietary technology. 

HTML5 is an open-source technology. It is free to use, and developers all over the world can help maintain and improve it. This is a big reason why HTML5 is quicker to improve and has more robust security features. 

Modern web development has moved towards only accepting open standards. This is great for open-source technologies and programming languages. Proprietary technology like Adobe Flash is left behind by open standards. 

The Demise of Adobe Flash

When you read through the comparison points above, it is easy to see why Adobe Flash has been so thoroughly outpaced by HTML5. However, there were a few key events that really solidified the death of Flash. 

First, Steve Jobs, the extremely influential and popular CEO of Apple, publicly called Flash a failure, completely abandoned it in all iOS products and claimed that HTML5 was superior and had a brighter future.

Even though not everyone uses Apple products, and there are a lot of other great products and companies out there, Apple is an extremely influential, trend-setting company. When Steve Jobs dropped Flash from iOS, that was the death of Adobe Flash on mobile devices.

Still, there is the web, but unfortunately, things didn’t go much better for Adobe Flash on the web either. YouTube, which had previously used Flash player to render their videos, also dropped Flash in favor of HTML5. 

After Apple and YouTube abandoned Flash, many other companies followed suit. Adobe Flash never recovered, and now the technology is basically dead. The last straw was when Google announced it would no longer support Flash-based ads on their Google Ads platform. 

On December 31, 2020, Adobe completely dropped support for Flash

Final Thoughts 

Flash vs. HTML5 is a great comparison because it offers everyone a cautionary tale. It doesn’t take much to be unseated and then completely obsolete. HTML5 is the choice today, and it has a strong future because it is open-source, constantly updated and improved, and it is a core technology of the World Wide Web.

If you need help developing a web or mobile app, reach out to an app development partner. A partner can help you determine which tools are best suited for your ideas, and they can offer you practical industry knowledge and technical expertise. You don’t have to worry about comparing HTML5 vs. Flash any longer; Flash is dead.

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