By Eric Pettifor
What difference will this make to the average web surfer? Probably not much. Sites with annoying special effects and sound and other hoopla offered up by Flash will no doubt offer the same via HTML 5. But your back button will likely work, and you will be able to send links to interior pages, because the whole thing will be written with open standards designed for web browsers — it will be the same old web you’ve always known, just on steroids.
Indeed, Adobe isn’t doing much here that hasn’t been possible for years, at least with regard to the final product. But what a chore it was! Extremely time consuming, and even if you went to all the trouble to test your technical magnum opus in the top ten web browsers at the time to ensure it worked in all of them, one browser would go up a version, change its behaviour, and break your work. Just not worth it.
So even though Adobe doesn’t own the underlying technology as it does with Flash, if it can make the difficult easy, their new product will fill a huge niche. But couldn’t the competition do the same thing? Yes, but could they do it as well? Give the devil his due, Adobe is very good at what they do. Plus they will have a first-to-market advantage. They will establish Edge as the Photoshop (also an Adobe product) of HTML 5. And don’t look to the open source world for a free app that does all this and does it well — their track record when it comes to multimedia authoring is mostly dismal.
Who this will be a real boon for is the non-technical designer types who are drawn to Flash like moths to a flame. Easy to use Flash authoring tools mean that they don’t have to have a lot of technical knowledge in order to realize their glorious visions. Sadly for them, Flash has lots of problems, many to do with the fact that it’s mostly graphic, not text based. Search engines can’t read it, spider it, summarize it, and Flash sites usually don’t do well in rankings. And that’s only the half of it.
HTML 5 and associated technologies, on the other hand, are totally kosher open standards that use the web browser and all it has to offer, rather than simply using it as a frame. If Adobe can satisfy the Flash-addicted elves of the web design world (and they won’t be easy to satisfy, so good thing Adobe is planning more preview releases as features evolve), then there will be richly designed multimedia sites which sacrifice nothing of the power of textual information and the properties that made the World Wide Web the ubiquitous force it is today.
AND you’ll be able to view them on your iPad.