HTML5 vs Flash: why HTML5 will overtake Flash

Official Construct Post
Ashley's avatar
  • 25 Jul, 2011
  • 900 words
  • ~4-6 mins
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Construct 2 is our brand new HTML5 game creator. One question that we keep getting asked is: why did we choose HTML5? Construct Classic (the predecessor to Construct 2) exported solely to Windows EXE desktop games. Why did we make such a big sideways step into the world of HTML5? Lots of people have said HTML5 will "kill" Flash, but it has far too large a footprint to be easily wiped out. However games, banners, apps and possibly video - the things Flash is famous for - can be done better in HTML5. We think this will leave Flash useful for only a few cases which HTML5 doesn't cover. Here's why.

Firstly, let's think about market reach. HTML5 has undoubtedly the biggest potential market reach of any platform. Desktop browsers today across all major operating systems have great HTML5 support. Mobiles are headed the same way, with fast canvas performance in iOS 5 and javascript engines always improving. HTML5 is an open standard so all manufacturers can support it. There's no need to wait for Adobe to reluctantly come out with late Linux or 64-bit versions of Flash - browser developers can get right on it themselves. There's no worry over Flash being particularly slow or badly supported on one platform - the browser makers can do it. HTML5 is not vulnerable to the whims of one corporation. It's an open standard.

Secondly, Apple famously don't support Flash. Not only does this actually mean Flash doesn't run everywhere any more, but it's a massive vote of no-confidence. Flash isn't without its problems. According to Steve Jobs, it can be difficult to use on touch devices, slow, battery-draining and insecure. So to cover all platforms, if we chose Flash, we'd then have to write a separate iOS runtime. That's a huge amount of wasted effort for a small startup like ours. It also creates problems for users - there will surely be differences between platforms that end up causing headaches. HTML5 just works everywhere, thanks to excellent standards compliance in modern browsers. It's Sun's "write once, run anywhere" dream finally realised - sadly for them, it's not Java :)

So HTML5 is like a lightweight, better supported, faster and open version of Flash. It runs natively in the browser rather than through a plugin controlled by a corporation. So what's in Flash's favour?

Flash does have a gigantic web footprint. It's been around since 1996 and for a long time was considered the de-facto technology to use for dynamic content. There are tens of thousands of websites that have used Flash extensively and will continue to do so, because changing it is difficult and expensive. Flash is here to stay and will probably still be around for many more years.

Flash has good audio and video support. There's still a tricky situation in HTML5 since browsers all support different combinations of audio and video formats (also discussed in our HTML5 audio formats entry). However, providing you convert audio and video to multiple formats, you can still get complete coverage in HTML5. That's something Construct 2 will help you with.

Flash, apart from iOS, has nearly complete browser support. However, as we mentioned earlier, the latest browsers support it excellently. It's only a matter of time until HTML5 is just as widely supported.

Flash has mature tools. Adobe's Flash Builder and other tools are powerful and well-supported. HTML5 content can be written in Javascript and HTML. However, without specialist tools, it's still more difficult to rewrite Flash content in HTML5. Adobe's tools are also much more expensive than Construct 2 will be.

That's where Construct 2 comes in. It's the HTML5 editor. We're aiming to allow you to make all those things Flash is famous for - games, banners and apps - for HTML5, quickly and easily, in a great editor. While Flash has a huge footprint, HTML5 is the better platform, and web developers all over the world are looking for ways to ditch Flash and use HTML5 instead. Construct 2 will make that easier for them. Rather than cling to a dieing platform, we're looking to the future.

What's left for Flash? HTML5 does games, banners and apps better. Flash might still see some use in video, while browser makers battle over codec support. However, YouTube are already running a HTML5 video beta. Many other video sites have similar projects. Will Flash really have a video monopoly for that long? Flash lets you access webcam and microphone. Is that really such a large market? Adobe may add some more features to try and keep Flash going. Will those features really be necessary, given HTML5 seems to be able to do just fine? Even Adobe are starting to support HTML5 with their tools, such as the early 'Wallaby' Flash-to-HTML5 converter. Maybe even they realise HTML5 is the future!

So, sooner or later, HTML5 will do everything Flash does, but better. To us it's a no-brainer. Supporting Flash is jumping on board a sinking ship. It may be sinking slowly, but it is definitely sinking. Given time, the main concern - browser support - will be remedied. Games, apps and banners all over the web will be HTML5. A few corner cases - live streaming, webcam usage - will remain Flash-based, but small compared to HTML5 use. It's simple: HTML5 will be the new Flash, and we're going to help it happen.


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