All posts tagged ‘flash’

Going Straight: How To Ditch Flash and Embrace the Future of the Web

Adobe’s Flash Player is the whipping boy of the web — it’s proprietary, HTML5 is better, Flash hurts battery life and it’ll slap your grandmother if you leave it running for too long.

Apple has been leading the anti-Flash charge, most recently electing to not ship Flash with its new MacBook Air notebooks. Apple claims it doesn’t want to be responsible for keeping Flash up to date, but the company is also prescient when it comes to recognizing when old technology needs to go (remember the floppy disc?).

While we’ve been using Flash blocking browser extensions for years, the idea of ditching Flash completely still feels premature. HTML5, for all its promise, still can’t match Flash in every area, nor is every website embracing HTML5 right now.

However, the promise of better battery life for laptops and mobile devices make the argument against Flash even more compelling. Our friends at Ars Technica were testing the new Macbook Air notebooks when they discovered that getting rid of the Flash Player boosted battery life by as much as 33 percent.

While we can’t guarantee you’ll see the same results on your own laptop, if you want to ditch Flash completely it isn’t too difficult to do.

Blogger Steven Frank has details on how to get rid of Flash on the Mac and replace it with the YouTube5 Safari extension. YouTube5 rewrites every YouTube embed you encounter, forcing them to use the HTML5 version of the YouTube player.

That works well if you’re using Safari and primarily encounter Flash through YouTube movies. But of course, some of us use Firefox, and YouTube isn’t the only site that “needs” Flash. It’d be nice if there were a Firefox equivalent to the Safari YouTube5 extension, but so far we haven’t been able to find one.

Other areas the Flash-free plan causes pain: multi-file uploaders like those from Flickr, Vimeo and other services often need Flash to work properly; charts and graphs on news sites often rely on Flash, and of course those addictive games your friends pass around are Flash-based.

Mac blogger John Gruber has a further tip for those times you really do need Flash, when you need, in Gruber’s words, “to cheat” — use Google Chrome. Because Google’s Chrome browser ships with its own version of Flash, it’s unaffected by the uninstall process outlined by Frank and Gruber.

Gruber also has an extra, and somewhat compelling, argument for why getting rid of Flash is better than just blocking it — many publishers offer non-Flash alternatives for browsers that don’t have the plug-in, so you can still at least see something in place of the Flash content.

If you’re using Windows, the easiest way to get rid of Flash is using Adobe’s Flash Uninstaller. Just download the app, make sure you close any app that might be using Flash, and run the uninstaller. Grab a copy of Google Chrome for those times when you need Flash and you’re well on your way to a Flash free web and, quite possibly, extended battery life.

Of course, it’s worth pointing out that even HTML5 goodies like Canvas animations or videos, if left running indefinitely, will drag down your battery life just like Flash. In the web of the future, with no Flash at all, will we be blocking Canvas to stop annoying ads and save battery life? Quite possibly, but until then… enjoy.

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Adobe Shows Off Flash-to-HTML5 Converter

Even though its Flash technology is used as a punching bag by web standards fans, Adobe has been building tools that embrace HTML5. The company recently released its own HTML5 video player, and Adobe Illustrator and Dreamweaver CS5 now contain a number of new HTML5 export tools.

Now it seems Flash might be joining the party. At Adobe’s Max conference this week, Adobe engineer Rik Cabanier showed of a demo of tool that converts Flash animations to HTML5 (well, technically it looks like a combination of HTML5, CSS and images).

The video below, while not the best quality, shows the tool in action:

Adobe Flash has taken a beating in the last couple of years. First Apple attacked Flash for poor performance, then open tools like HTML5, CSS 3 and JavaScript began stealing much of its thunder, offering video, audio and animation — traditionally Flash’s strongholds — without the need for the free plug-in.

While rumors of Flash’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, there’s no question that, were Flash to remain what it is today, it will eventually be replaced by HTML5 tools.

Keep in mind this is just a demo, not something that’s scheduled for release any time soon. It’s also worthy noting that, despite the claims of “HTML5,” the page generated appears to be using the XHTML 1.0 doctype. Clearly this is a work in progress.

Still, even if the final project generated the kind of messy markup you see in the video, just the ability to export your animations out of Flash, even if the final code needs some clean up, would be godsend for developers that want to move their complicated Flash animations to web standards that play on devices where Flash can’t run.

[via Adobe's John Nack]

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File Under: HTML5, Multimedia

Adobe Releases Its Own HTML5 Video Player

Adobe has released an embeddable video player that plays HTML5 native video in browsers that support it, and falls back to Flash in browsers that don’t.

It’s cross-browser and cross-platform, so it works on iPhones, iPads and other devices that don’t support Flash. Using Adobe’s new player, these devices can show videos in web pages without the Flash plug-in.

There are already several players out there that use the HTML5-with-Flash-fallback method, such as Vimeo’s new player and the slick one from Brightcove that can handle video ads. All of these players, like Adobe’s, are based on open web technologies and can be customized with CSS and JavaScript. But this newest one, being from Adobe, is sure to be a bigger deal.

The company has come under fire in the past year over concerns about the stability and performance issues related to its Flash Player browser plug-in, and Flash technology itself. Apple’s iPad ships without support for Flash, and Apple initially disallowed apps created in Flash from being sold in its app store. Apple rescinded after a few months, but the damage was already done — Google began pushing HTML5 video over Flash by releasing WebM, a new open video format, and developers got busy looking at HTML5 as a replacement for Flash, at least when it came to embedding videos.

With its new player, Adobe is responding to their developers’ wishes for solutions that play well on the open web. It comes on the heels of last week’s release from Adobe, which lets artists using Illustrator export their drawings as HTML5 Canvas, and its earlier pack of HTML5 tools for Dreamweaver.

HTML5 video adoption among browsers has gone tremendously so far — Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera all support native video, and baked-in support is coming to Internet Explorer 9 next year. But it’s still a bit of a mess, with different browsers supporting different formats. So developers posting HTML5 video still need to encode their files in at least two of the three major formats — the widely-used H.264, the newer WebM, or the older Ogg Theora — to guarantee all HTML5 capable browsers will be able to see their videos.

With the proper file formats in place, Adobe’s new player will play native web video in all the newest browsers, and will switch to Flash playback mode for all your poor visitors stuck with IE6 or something equally stone-aged.

The new HTML5 video player is incorporated into the workflow of Dreamweaver Creative Suite 5, so if you’re already using Adobe’s tools to build your site, you can drop in a player using Dreamweaver’s “Customize Widget” function.

If you’re not a Dreamweaver person, you can still generate all the code you need using Adobe’s free Widget Browser app. One caveat — the Widget Browser is an AIR app, so you’ll need to have Adobe’s Flash-based runtime to use it, though AIR apps will install AIR for you if you’re lacking.

To develop its video player widget, Adobe used open source code from Kaltura, repurposing a popular library that’s found at the heart of several HTML5 video players.

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Is the iPad Sending Design Back to the Dark Ages?

Jeffrey Zeldman thinks so. In his essay, “iPad As the New Flash,” the author and standards guru argues that designers are now coding up device-centric user experiences at the expense of web standards, accessibility and the advancement of open web technologies.

Everything we’ve learned in the past decade about preferring open standards to proprietary platforms and user-focused interfaces to masturbatory ones is forgotten as designers and publishers once again scramble to create novelty interfaces no one but them cares about.

While some of this will lead to useful innovation, particularly in the area of gestural interfaces, that same innovation can just as readily be accomplished on websites built with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript—and the advantage of creating websites instead of iPad apps is that websites work for everyone, on browsers and devices at all price points. That, after all, is the point of the web. It’s the point of web standards and progressive enhancement.

He takes issue not with apps in general, but with the design choices being made by popular magazines as they rush to embrace the new shiny. His ultimate conclusion: “Masturbatory novelty is not a business strategy.”

The comments are enlightening, too. A few make the point that web standards like JavaScript and CSS can now be used to develop experiences that can be delivered both natively and through a browser. Another suggests this is just the Old World struggling to understand a new platform.

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File Under: HTML5, Mobile

Video: Watch Flash Hand HTML5 a Beating on Mobiles

We’re not trying to throw gasoline on the fire or anything, but here’s an interesting video of Flash and HTML5 duking it out on two different mobile devices.

Developer Chris Black shows us two versions of the same animation, one done in Canvas and JavaScript and one done in Flash. He first runs it on a brand new iPod Touch (HTML5) and then on an Android Nexus One (HTML5 and Flash). The framerate is much higher and steady on the Flash version — 57 frames per second versus 40fps in Canvas on the Nexus One and 22fps on the iPod.

A few huge caveats here: The animation is very simple, and is hardly on par with most web animations. Also, the JavaScript code is not optimized as much as it could be, which may be hurting the framerate numbers in the HTML5 portion of the test. Lastly, it’s only an experiment. The HTML5 test measures the rendering speed of the mobile browsers being used, so it can’t be taken as a true head-to-head Flash/HTML5 benchmark. Read the comments on Black’s post and you’ll see people reporting different results across different Android devices. To that point, he uses an iPod Touch, roughly the same as an iPhone and not as fast as an iPad (none of which can play Flash content).

So what’s the purpose, then? Black says he’s trying to take the temperature of the different choices to decide where it makes the most sense for him to focus his efforts as a developer. Here’s his rationale, in the comments of his post:

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