Thoughts on Flash From Our IT & Development Teams
Written by Matthew Guest
Technology is constantly evolving and as a Technology and Communications Partner, Nxtbook Media is committed to staying on top of the shifting landscape of tech. An issue that is on our radar is the gradual shift from Flash to HTML5. We are paying close attention because our replica Nxtbooks are presented in Flash when reading them on the desktop. We’ve been monitoring the events unfolding around Flash, such as the temporary blocking of Flash from Firefox in July due to security issues. We understand that the end of life for Flash is on the horizon, but that its approach is very slow. There are still a lot of major websites that rely on it such as HBO, NBC, CBS, Zynga, King, Showtime, Pandora, Spotify, Major League Baseball, Slacker Radio, Hulu, and the BBC. To me Hulu was the biggest standout. Their entire business relies on people watching their content and it is impossible to do so on the desktop without Flash. They can’t just ditch it because of some of the features in the Hulu player aren’t available in HTML5 and some of their advertisers need to stream in Flash ads. Five years ago they blogged about HTML5 and why they weren’t switching right away. Five years ago. And no other mentions of it in their blog since. They’re not panicked and we’re not either. There are some loud voices calling for the death of Flash, but there aren’t a lot, so it won’t happen overnight. In general, consumers of content on the web don’t care if they’re looking at a video, book, or interactive site in Flash or HTML5. They just want to consume their content, which is why Flash still exists on almost all desktops and laptops and will continue to for some time.
There are some low end players in the HTML5 digital publication space, but they aren’t true HTML5 solutions. They are merely bitmapped pages wrapped in an HTML5 player that has a very limited set of features. Because of this approach, the text in the pages is bitmapped too which is why it’s often barely legible.
Modern HTML is a relatively young and fast moving technology that is on the cusp of becoming powerful enough to support what we would consider an acceptable reader experience comparable to and exceeding our Flash offerings. We have begun work on an HTML5 solution to eventually replace the Flash version of our Nxtbooks. We carefully analyze the browser statistics of our clients’ readers and we are timing the development and release of an HTML5-based replica offering to avoid causing reader problems when the transition occurs. When all the pieces are in place and an HTML5 Nxtbook can offer the same core set of features found in a Flash Nxtbook and perform well in most browsers, we’ll begin the transition.
We have been moving forward very quickly with groundbreaking HTML based solutions, striking a balance between those clients who feel their readers are capable of making the transition to a non-replica experience while maintaining the broadest potential audience for the replica. We have an HTML5-based digital publication platform called Ubiquity that differs from our Flash-based replica product in that content will reflow to fit the screen size of the reader’s device. Many clients have found Ubiquity to be the perfect platform for their non-replica digital publications.
No matter what technology we’re using, we will help our clients achieve their goals with their digital edition. Clients who come on board and take this Flash-to-HTML5 journey with us will rest assured their content will arrive safely.
Don Spidell & Matt Guest