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HTML5 vs. Flash: The case for Flash

Seven reasons Web designers will remain loyal to Flash for rich Web content

By Peter Wayner, InfoWorld
June 02, 2010 06:26 AM ET

InfoWorld - In one corner is Adobe's Flash, the once undisputed champion in delivering rich content to the glazed eyes of the easily bored public. In the other is HTML5, the once poor content provider now sporting the number 5 after its name and eager to prove that its new muscle and artful moves will be more than enough to take over the marketplace.

A wide range of pundits and industry heavyweights have been handicapping the fight, heralding HTML5 as the new champ and calling Flash "old," "fragile," "insecure," or worse. The complaints are easy to understand and the new abilities of HTML5 are seductive. But is that enough to bet against Flash?

[ Also on InfoWorld: Support for the next generation of HTML is already appearing in today's browsers and Web pages. Are you ready to take advantage? See "What to expect from HTML5" | Follow the latest news in software development with InfoWorld's Developer World newsletter ]

HTML5 duplicates many of the features that were once the sole province of plug-ins: local disk storage, video display, better rendering, algorithmic drawing, and more. Some of these features are available now in various forms, but the HTML5 spec is still labeled "draft."

Is the sudden interest and support from the likes of Google and Apple enough to win? The fight isn't over by any means. While Steve Jobs might have enough juice to change the outcome, neither the technocrats nor the programmers are the final judges in this bout.

The real battle is in the hearts and eyes of the artists who are paid to create incredibly beautiful objects in the span of just a few hours. The designers will make the final determination. As long as Flash and its cousins Flex and Shockwave remain the simplest tools for producing drop-dead gorgeous Websites, they'll keep their place on the Internet.

Here is a list of seven reasons why Flash will remain king of rich Web content, compiled by interviewing a number of artists who work with it every day.

The case for Flash, No. 1: Flash's sub-pixel resolution and anti-aliasingThe case for Flash, No. 2: Flash beats CanvasReasonThe case for Flash, No. 3: Flash's good developer toolsThe case for Flash, No. 4: Flash's supercool fontsThe case for Flash, No. 5: Flash is write once, play everywhereThe case for Flash, No. 6: The Flash commercial ecosystemThe case for Flash, No. 7: Flash's game engines

Reason No. 1: Flash's sub-pixel resolution and anti-aliasing Do you want a border around a block of text rendered by HTML and CSS? Well, you can choose between 1 pixel, 2 pixels, or n pixels. The spec does allow floating point numbers, but the numbers between the integers tend to be ignored or rounded off in a slightly different way by different browsers.

Flash not only accepts floating point numbers, but uses the same rules to draw lines, boxes, and images on all machines. Using sophisticated anti-aliasing and blending algorithms to render lines, Flash gives the illusion that screens have more precision than they really do. The eye can tell the difference, and that's why Flash sites look better.

Originally published on www.infoworld.com. Click here to read the original story.

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