Tag Archives | HTML5

The Beginning of the End of The Plug-in

When the modern World Wide Web first came to be in the mid 1990s, there was no such thing as a plug-in. The Web was a basic place, and function was more important than flashiness.

Times changed and so did developers’ preferences.

Soon, sites wanted to enhance the web experience beyond what HTML alone could provide, and Java, Flash, and other technologies were brought to the Web. Overall it worked as intended and made the Web more lively, but there were issues.

First off, plug-ins led to a more uneven browsing experience than issues surrounding how different browsers render pages ever did. If you didn’t have the plug-in or couldn’t install it, pages did not appear as intended. Look at devices that don’t support Flash (iOS, I’m talking about you): their users are locked out of a significant portion of the Web.

Moreover, these plug ins opened up our computers to additional security issues. Most security issues on the Web come as a result of the attacker making his or her way into your computer through an exploit found in a plug-in. Think about it: a significant number of major security flaws have been found here.

It shouldn’t be a surprise then that Microsoft is following Apple’s lead in moving away from Flash, and plug-ins generally. IE10 for Windows 8 will come in two flavors — one for Microsoft’s new Metro interface, and another for the desktop. Metro won’t support plug-ins and will instead support HTML5 as well as possible, says Windows chief Steven Sinofsky.

“Running Metro style IE plug-in free improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers,” he argues. “Providing compatibility with legacy plug-in technologies would detract from, rather than improve, the consumer experience of browsing in the Metro style UI.”

I have to applaud Microsoft here. Plug-ins, in this day and age, are outdated and unnecessary. Some have criticized Apple’s stance on this, but lets face it: modern Web technologies can provide nearly the same experience.

To me, the most attractive part of this switch is the additional security benefits. I’m hoping that this change spurs developers to wean themselves off of these unnecessary technologies, making the Web safer for all of us. Bad news for Adobe? Maybe, but hey even they are preparing for a life without Flash.


With Edge, Adobe Preps Itself for the HTML5 Future

Adobe may be in no hurry to wind down its huge, aging, sometimes frustrating business built around Flash, but it isn’t dumb. It’s obvious that the future of rich Web sites–especially on phones and tablets–is about HTML5. And therefore it’s practically mandatory that Adobe release an application that lets creative types build such sites–a program that can join Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and other Adobe products as a standard part of the world’s design toolbox.

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Adobe Helps Turn Flash Into HTML5

Flash vs. HTML5. HTML5 vs. Flash. Whatever your take on the respective merits of the two high-profile technologies for creating splashy Web content, you can’t deny that the rivalry between Adobe’s venerable Flash and the assortment of evolving open-source standards collectively known as HTML5 is intense.

But what if Flash could become HTML5?

Starting now–in certain limited instances–it can. First demoed at Adobe’s MAX conference last October, Wallaby is a free new app from Adobe using its AIR platform that sucks in Flash content created with the Flash Professional authoring software, then spits out an HTML5 version designed to work well in WebKit browsers.

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HTML5: It's Logoized! Prematurely!

As Cnet’s Stephen Shankland is reporting, the World Wide Web Consortium has created a fancy logo for HTML5. (To me, it looks a little bit like Superman’s “S” and a little bit like a Tide box.) It’s even selling HTML5 T-shirts. I don’t remember any previous version of HTML getting that honor, although the news does remind me of an attempt to promote MP3 via a logo back in 2008.

I love HTML5 and want it to succeed–and yes, I understand that it’s a collection of technologies and standards rather than something specific. But  it seems a tad premature to be promoting it with a logo when the industry still can’t even agree on basic stuff like how HTML5 video should work.


Silverlight: The Cup is Three-Quarters Full

Last week, I wrote about an interesting post by ZDnet’s Mary Jo Foley in which Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft’s servers and tools business, seemed to be downplaying Silverlight, Microsoft’s Flash-like plugin for rich Internet applications. Muglia has followed up with a blog post of his own at Microsoft’s site in which he sounds more upbeat about Silverlight--although he’s equally high on HTML5. I don’t think there’s any basic conflict between what Muglia said in his interview with Mary Jo and what he says in his post. It’s a matter of spin, and he wanted to reassure Silverlight developers that the platform has a future.

There’s no question that Silverlight (and Flash) can do many things that HTML can’t today, and which HTML5 won’t be able to do anytime soon. As a user of Web sites, though, I’m way more excited about cool stuff that works in any modern browser than I am about cool stuff that requires a plugin from a particular company. The quality of the support for HTML5 and other new technologies in the Internet Explorer 9 beta is encouraging evidence that Microsoft’s Silverlight strategy doesn’t involve cramming the plugin down anyone’s throat.

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Is Microsoft Turning Off the SilverLight ?

ZDnet’s Mary Jo Foley has an interesting news tidbit: Microsoft seems to be downplaying the original goals for its Silverlight platform, which were to take on Adobe’s Flash as a pervasive plug-in for rich media applications. SilverLight is part of the toolset developers use to build Windows Phone 7 apps, and Microsoft says it’ll be useful for some other specialized applications. But when it comes to making Web sites fancier, the company seems to be turning its attention to HTML5 standards rather than its own proprietary creations.

SilverLight wasn’t without its attractions–waitaminnit, it’s probably premature to be referring to it in the past tense–but I suspect most third-party observers who aren’t developers with an investment in SilverLight will approve of the idea of Microsoft putting most of its eggs in the HTML5 basket. The Web’s going to be a better place once every browser supports all animation, video, and interactivity in the same fashion without the use of multiple plugins. And Internet Explorer 9’s serious HTML5 support is both better for consumers and better for Microsoft’s continuing relevance than any future version of SilverLight could be.


From Flash to HTML5

At Adobe’s MAX conference this week, the company had a tech demo of a neat idea: a Flash-to-HTML5 converter.

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The Unwelcome Return of "Best Viewed With Internet Explorer"

Remember the bad old days of the Internet, when it wasn’t a given that one primary objective of any Web site should be to work equally well in any modern browser? Some sites slapped “Best Viewed With Internet Explorer” or “Best Viewed With Netscape Navigator” logos (or both of them) onto their home pages, like perverse badges of honor. It was like turning onto a highway and discovering signs saying it was best driven in a Buick or a Kia.

Eventually there were sites that would only operate properly in IE, most often because they used Microsoft’s IE-only ActiveX. (I have the horrible feeling that such sites are still out there, although the last one I encountered myself belonged to a financial institution which I stopped doing business with in 2009.)

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Adobe Illustrator Goes HTML5

Does Adobe want Flash to have a long and healthy future? Sure, but as the dominant player in software used by people who design Web sites, it’s clear that it must embrace open-source HTML5 standards with at least as much energy as it gives its own technologies. Here’s a promising sign: The company is releasing an add-on pack for its Illustrator vector-drawing package that turns the software into an HTML5 authoring tool. The Pack lets Illustrator users gear up for the richer Web ahead by beefing up Illustrator’s existing SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) features and adding new support for HTML5 concepts such as CSS3 and Canvas Tags.

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