Kevin Lynch, CTO of Adobe penned a post on Adobe’s blog today defending Flash as the de-facto standard on the web for interactivity and video playing. Lynch comes to Adobe from Macromedia where he was Chief Software Architect and obviously has been with Flash longer than even Adobe. Therefore, it isn’t surprising to hear him say that he doesn’t believe HTML5 will replace Flash at anytime in the foreseeable future.
Adobe supports HTML and its evolution and we look forward to adding more capabilities to our software around HTML as it evolves. If HTML could reliably do everything Flash does that would certainly save us a lot of effort, but that does not appear to be coming to pass. Even in the case of video, where Flash is enabling over 75% of video on the Web today, the coming HTML video implementations cannot agree on a common format across browsers, so users and content creators would be thrown back to the dark ages of video on the Web with incompatibility issues.The productivity and expressiveness of Flash remain advantages for the Web community even as HTML advances.
The Flash team will drive innovation over the coming years as they have over the past decade to enable experiences that aren’t otherwise possible. With the ability to update the majority of Web clients in less than a year, Flash can make this innovation available to our customers much more quickly than HTML across a variety of browsers.
The general consensus in the Apple community (including CEO Steve Jobs) is that Flash can die, the sooner the better. But does that mean Adobe has to die with it? Adobe makes authoring tools which could be used to make HTML5 applications instead of Flash applications (though if Adobe Dreamweaver’s capability in the HTML world is any indication, they have a long way to go).
John Nack, Principal Project Manager for another Adobe product, Photoshop, says precisely this:
Adobe isn’t in the Flash business. Seriously. It isn’t in the Photoshop business, or the Acrobat business, or the [take-your-pick product name] business, either. It’s in the helping people communicate business. We’d all do well to remember that, because it means that the company’s fortunes are tied to building great tools for solving problems. If we do that well, we prosper; if we do it poorly, we fail. When we get too wrapped up in this technology or that, we lose touch with the problems that we (and more importantly our customers) are trying to solve.
The equation is simple. Adobe wants to make money selling tools, so it needs our customers’ clients to pay for work done with the tools. Clients won’t pay if their customers can’t see the work made with the tools. Therefore customers, clients, and by extension Adobe need a way to see the work, be that videos, interactive pieces, or anything else.
Just like the new Flash tools have the ability to export to moving GIF, flat HTML or even iPhone App, they could also be used to export to HTML5. Here’s an example of video entirely done in HTML5. Why can’t I take a video file on my computer and embed it as such? Somewhere buried in the code on that page there is a MP4 just like the ones on my computer.
Don’t worry. There will soon be tools to embed your HTML5 video into your websites. In fact, I’d be surprised if YouTube and the other video sharing sites don’t have a “Embed HTML5” code spitter-outter this year. It is clear that Adobe, if they want to stay relevant, will start building tools like this.