YouTube has some bad news for those of you hoping the site would soon ditch Flash in favor of HTML5 video tags: It isn’t going to happen any time soon.
That’s message from the YouTube developer blog which cites half-a-dozen areas where Flash trumps HTML5 and explains why “the <video> tag does not currently meet all the needs of a site like YouTube.”
The emerging HTML5 standard, which is quickly being adopted by browser manufacturers and developers, offers native video-playback and animation tools that don’t require Adobe’s Flash plug-in. However, while HTML5 handles the basics of video, it lacks many of the extra features that sites like YouTube, Vimeo and Hulu currently offer through Flash-based video players.
To switch to pure HTML5 video would mean YouTube would have to give up features like live streaming, dynamic video quality control and the ability to allow users to jump to specific points in a video.
While YouTube claims to be “excited about the HTML5 effort and <video> tag,” the post makes it pretty clear that HTML5 isn’t going to take over the site any time soon. The video-streaming site Hulu has previously said the same thing: HTML5 lacks the extra features Flash enables.
YouTube has been running an experimental HTML5 version of the site for more than a year, and it remains an opt-in choice for those who want to avoid Flash. The site also continues to serve raw H.264 videos to mobile devices like the iPad, but don’t expect the main browser version of YouTube to make the same changes.
The YouTube developer blog lists several things Flash can do that HTML5 video tags cannot:
After spending many months on development and beta testing, Adobe has released the latest version of its Flash Player.
You can download Flash Player 10.1 for Mac, Windows and Linux at Adobe’s website. You’ll need to shut down all of your browsers while it installs. There’s a version of Flash Player 10.1 coming for Android, but it won’t be ready until later this summer. A beta version is available in the Android Marketplace if you want to test it out.
Microsoft’s competing Silverlight plug-in for video is winning hearts and minds, reaching 60% penetration on web-connected PCs this spring. Adobe says over 95% of web-connected PCs have Flash Player installed.
Persons of great influence are turning their backs on Flash, but Adobe is hoping this update will spark an attitude change. It has rolled in dozens of improvements which directly address the issues of performance, security and power consumption.
As we first saw in the beta release, the runtime has been re-written to consume less system memory, and Flash Player will automatically shut off if it detects that memory is running low. It can also prioritize the amount of processing power being used by each instance of Flash Player that’s running. So if you have several browser tabs open with Flash content displayed in each tab, the movie you’re watching right now will stay running at full power while the idle instances are dialed back or shut off.
These enhancements should prevent nasty problems like Flash Player causing your browser to crash or your entire OS to freeze, which is usually the result of more Flash than your computer can handle at once — something netbook owners know all too well. Mac users will also notice a significant improvement, as the Flash team says it has paid particular attention to Mac OS X and Safari issues in this release.
On the security front, the new Flash Player will fully honor the rules of your browser’s private browsing mode by not caching any data on the local system while private browsing is enabled.
There are a raft of video improvements — we get hardware-accelerated H.264 video decoding, better HTTP streaming that supports dynamic bitrates for live video streams, and support for peer-assisted video streams (aka “Multicasting”). There’s also a new buffering system, so you can pause, rewind and fast-forward streaming video just like you’re watching it on a DVR (as long as the provider is allowing for it).
There’s no mention here of support for the new WebM video format, which Google, Opera and Mozilla launched last month to serve as an open alternative to H.264. But Adobe has pledged support for WebM in Flash Player, so hopefully we’ll see it sooner rather than later.
However, Flash Player 10.1 does support multi-touch input surfaces, one of Steve Jobs’ sticking points in his “Thoughts on Flash” essay about why Apple isn’t supporting the technology. Multi-touch capability isn’t likely to change Apple’s mind about inviting Flash to the table, but this feature will be a huge boon to those Android tablets that are supposed to be showing up any day now to kill the iPad.
This is obviously a huge release for Adobe, as it comes at a time when the company is under attack for its platform’s pitfalls. So, why the weak-sounding 10.1 numbering, which gives the impression that it’s just an incremental upgrade? Wouldn’t it have been better if they had called it Flash Player 11 since there’s so much new here?
We can save the “This Flash Goes to 11″ headline for the next time around.
Another bit of Adobe software got an update today: AIR. We’ll have more on that later.
SAN FRANCISCO — Adobe will begin shipping a package of HTML5 web design tools for Dreamweaver, the company says.
The HTML5 Pack for Dreamweaver will available for download on Adobe Labs some time on Wednesday. It will be a free download for anyone who owns Dreamweaver Creative Suite 5, and Adobe will roll it into an automatic update for Dreamweaver once the add-on pack has been thoroughly tested.
The add-on pack gives Dreamweaver CS5 the ability to provide code hints for HTML5 elements and CSS3 styles when building pages in the text-based Code View window. Adobe is also adding a few starter layouts for people building HTML5 pages from scratch. More layouts will be added later.
Dreamweaver’s Live View mode — which uses the same WebKit rendering engine as Safari and the Android browser to preview web pages — is also getting an update. The Live View window will now be able to render pages built with HTML5 and CSS3, so developers coding native video and audio playback to their pages will be able to preview those pages in Dreamweaver.
The announcement was made during the Google I/O, the developer conference taking place here this week. Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch spoke as part of the morning keynote at I/O. Lynch hinted at this release earlier in May when he appeared at the Web 2.0 Expo developer conference and announced that Adobe would soon be shipping more tools for HTML5 content creation.
The release comes soon after Apple began encouraging developers to create web apps in HTML5 rather than rely on Adobe’s Flash Player to deliver videos, audio clips and animations. Apple’s iPad and iPhone famously don’t support Flash, so Adobe’s push towards giving designers new tools for building HTML5 web apps will help the company maintain its foothold on a web where Flash is becoming less attractive.
Dreamweaver Creative Suite 5 was released this spring. But it’s one of the oldest WYSIWYG web editors out there, and any web developer with knowledge of HTML5 and CSS3 has had the ability to use Dreamweaver’s Code View to build pages using the emerging standards for years. These new tools make the workflow easier though, allowing developers to take advantage of Dreamweaver’s helpful code hinting and to preview changes right inside the app, instead of uploading the files to the web to view their changes in a browser.
Lynch demonstrated a couple of other things, too. He showed how you can make a rich advertisement in Dreamweaver using CSS3 transforms and HTML5 animations. This will be especially handy for anyone wanting to create an ad for Apple’s iAd platform, which will be totally HTML5-based.
Also added to Dreamweaver in the HTML5 pack is a tool that lets you see what your pages will look like on multiple devices with different size screens all at once. It’s a preview pane with several windows — one for a desktop browser, one for mobiles, one for a tablet and so on. The preview tool uses dynamic stylesheet swapping, so you see your layout change instantly based on which device you’re viewing it on.
Of course, that’s extremely useful for anyone creating a website that’s going to be deployed on mobiles and iPads. Oh yes, and Android tablets — whenever they show up.
“The story is not about HTML5 vs. Flash,” Adobe’s Kevin Lynch says. “It’s about freedom of choice in the industry.”
Lynch says developers should be able to use whatever tools they want to create whatever experiences they want on the web.
“There are some who would like to wall off parts of the web and require you to get their approval to create something,” he says.
Lynch spoke Wednesday morning at the Web 2.0 Expo taking place here at Moscone West. The twice-per-year developer conference focuses on all things web, and though the audience is primarily made up of developers, the talks often turn to current events in the tech world.
Adobe has certainly been in the news quite a bit lately, with its Flash platform and Flash Player being derided by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who has disallowed Flash on the iPad and the company’s other mobile devices, and has banned apps created in Flash from being sold in the company’s App Store by changing the wording of the developer’s agreement for its latest iPhone OS.
Lynch didn’t refer to Apple by name until prompted by Web 2.0 Expo program chair Brady Forrest, who was interviewing Lynch on stage.
“Are you referring to Apple and the iPhone,” Forrest asked.
Lynch shot back: “Are you reading between the lines?”
“Apple’s playing this strategy where they want to create a walled garden around what people use,” Lynch continued.
In just months, from seemingly nowhere, Apple’s solo campaign to dethrone Flash as the de facto standard for web video has gathered enough momentum to get over the top. The question is no longer whether HTML5 will or should do the job, but when.
Last week signaled the tipping point, when Microsoft confirmed HTML5 video support would be included in the next version of Internet Explorer, which is due later this year. That move will swing the percentage of browsers supporting the nascent standard well above half, and will rapidly accelerate adoption by publishers, despite lingering technical and legal issues.
The shift is already happening on the mobile web, and eventually — in perhaps as soon as two years — HTML5 can be expected to serve most new video online.
“There’s a ton of momentum behind HTML5, and it’s well-justified momentum,” Mozilla VP of engineering Mike Shaver tells Webmonkey. “The future of the web is the web, and betting against the web is a bad idea.”
Flash has been taking a beating lately. First, the iPhone ignored it, and now the iPad is ignoring it. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is on a public rampage against the technology. He and other proponents of open web technologies are calling for advances in HTML5 to fully replace the Flash Player.
They’re in for a tough fight: Adobe’s Flash Player browser plug-in is the reason so much rich media, audio, video and animation are playable on the web. Without Flash, you wouldn’t be able to view most of the videos posted online, and your life on the web would be pretty miserable. That’s the main reason it’s installed on more than 90 percent of web-connected PCs.
But users complain about Flash’s poor performance on PCs and its power-sucking behavior on portables. Security experts deride it for its safety shortcomings. Web purists argue the point that, unlike HTML5 and other open standards, the Flash experience is owned and controlled by a single vendor, Adobe.
A lot of people think it’s time for Flash to move on and give way to HTML5. Web pages written in HTML5 can play videos natively, meaning the browser can play a video without the need for plug-ins. Google’s betting on it: The company built a new version of YouTube that uses HTML5′s video tags instead of Flash to play clips. Other video sites like Vimeo and DailyMotion quickly followed suit.
It is the promise of HTML5 to make sure the web has built-in tools that don’t rely on vendor-specific plug-ins like Adobe’s Flash or Microsoft’s Silverlight. All of the major browser vendors — Microsoft, Mozilla, Google, Apple and Opera — are committed to supporting HTML5 in some way.
However, despite the opportunities offered by HTML5, it remains a draft specification, and even though many publishers and vendors are supporting it already, it’s not expected to reach full maturity for another year or two.
Until then at least, Flash remains the dominant way to deliver audio, video and animation on the web. It’s been around far too long to simply be replaced overnight, no matter how severe of a public thrashing it’s currently enduring.
So what will it take for HTML5 and its new capabilities to truly supplant Flash on the web?
In order to find answers, we have to first look at how Flash came to be on top.