Flash “vs.” HTML? Not so.

CNET has a rather confused article titled “HTML vs. Flash: Can a turf war be avoided?” This is like asking whether a turf war can be avoided between mixing bowls and batter.

The article says: “Bruce Lawson, Web standards evangelist for browser maker Opera Software, believes HTML and the other technologies inevitably will replace Flash and already collectively are ‘very close’ to reproducing today’s Flash abilities.” Further on: “Perhaps the most visible HTML5 aspect is built-in support for audio and video.”

This is complete nonsense. HTML 5 does not include “built-in support” for video. All that it does is provide a standardized means for browsers to support it. The video and audio tags provide a standardized means of expressing video and audio content, but don’t define any means of interpreting the content. That’s left up to the browser, just as it is with HTML 4 with its lack of standardized media tags. The browser can support MPEG 4, Flash, Ogg, all of them, none of them, or something else entirely.

Perhaps author Stephen Shankland is thinking of a different issue. There are some Web pages whose content is made up entirely of Flash. If you bring them up on a browser where Flash support is lacking or disabled, you generally get a blank page, not even a clue about what’s wrong. This could be considered Flash vs. HTML competition, but it’s an area where Flash has no excuse for being there and deserves to be beaten. The appropriate use of Flash, to present animation and video, is actually better supported by HTML 5 than by earlier versions, and the idea that the technologies compete is meaningless.

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