Strengths and Weaknesses of HTML5 and Flash

When discussing Flash and HTML5, developers often pit one against the other, creating a competition. But, why can’t both be winners? HTML5 is the newest widespread open source platform, and it has developed a buzz because of the opposition to Adobe’s Flash. In fact, some predict it will eventually replace Flash entirely.

While some agree with this notion, many others have tested the programs head to head, and found significant advantages and disadvantages to both, but neither makes the other obsolete…yet.

Strengths of HTML5:

  • Better suited for mobile devices and mLearning. Our blog about the new Lectora Online 1.5 addresses HTML5 as an asset to mLearning because the program is not “processor-intensive,” and works on almost all mobile devices. Authoring tools like Lectora Online 1.5 allow you to easily create and publish courses to mobile devices using HTML5. (Unrein, Learning Solutions Magazine) 
  • Functionality is built in. HTML5 uses DOM and HTML support, so plug-ins and 3rd party programs are unnecessary for video and audio embedding, high-quality drawings, charts and animation and many other types of rich content. (Valle, Oshyn) 
  • Consistency. Websites with HTML5 elements have greater consistency in terms of the HTML used to code a page on one site compared to another.  This makes it easier for Web designers and developers to immediately understand how a Web page is structured. (Valle, Oshyn) 

Strengths of Flash:

  • Successful distribution. Flash one of the most successful and prevalent plug-ins to hit the web, as 97% of all computers with a browser support Flash. (McJannet, Digitaria)
  • Beneficial for serious games. Online games that produce high retention are most often created in Flash, and the program offers numerous features for producing quality gaming material.  (McJannet, Digitaria)
  • If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Generally, Flash is easy to use, and many developers are already familiar with the program. So, sticking with Flash rather than switching tools can save a company or developer time, money and resources.

Weaknesses of HTML5:

  • Difficult browser adoption. HTML5 is a modern program built for the modern world, so older browsers don’t support the program as well. This can be a pitfall for corporations that use an older browser in the workplace. (Unrein, Learning Solutions Magazine) 
  • It’s too new. Developers are asking each other if there any existing programs that create HTML5 output because there aren’t many known shortcuts. Lectora is one of the few eLearning/mLearning development tools that outputs to HTML, so developers are often looking for an answer that hardly exists. (Unrein, Learning Solutions Magazine)

Weaknesses of Flash:

  • Flash doesn’t work well with Mac OSX, and Apple’s mobile devices do not support Flash content. Flash causes the CPU to work harder, which means more power is used, and the battery is drained more quickly. The program was created for a PC, so it has had a hard time adjusting to the Mac operating system on computers and would have most likely have the same issues on Apple’s mobile devices. (Noodleman, Factoidz) 
  • Multiple Security Issues When Developing eLearning content. Security restrictions impede design and development. Flash limits the ability to link to external content, whether you’re on a local computer or a network. (Unrein, Learning Solutions Magazine)
  • Development costs money. Developers have to pay for Flash Pro or Flash Builder in order to create apps to deploy video, and this can become costly for a corporation or content creator. (Perkins)

As noted, both Flash and HTML5 are beneficial depending on the developer, the content and the budget and time restrictions. Lectora‘s product line incorporates elements of Flash and HTML5, so it is a useful tool for users of both programs. There are advantages and shortcomings to both programs, so why can’t it be “HTML5 and Flash,” rather than “HTML5 vs. Flash?”