HTML 5 vs Apps (and flash)

I have had a few questions on this recently, so thought i would summarise the answers i gave her.

Q. What are the advantages of apps and why would i want to use HTML 5

Native apps such as those deployed to a handset i.e IPhone have the following potential advantages:

  • The can be feature rich and utilize phone features easily
  • They can run faster; they hook directly into the hardware
  • They have the phones standard look and feel
  • They are easy to market and discover  i.e in the app store
  • It will work when not connected to the internet
  • There is a well defined method to monetize.

These are all great advantages, however, you can counter or disregard some of the above:

  • HTML 5 while not as feature rich is likely more than adequate for most requirements
  • Running a reporting application in HTML should not need all the processing power of the phone
  • An HTML 5 development is easier to maintain and update across multiple platforms.
  • The web look and feel is well understood and unlikely to upset the clients users.
  • A web deployed HTML 5 application is easily found by google
  • The client is unlikely to require monitization and it is possible we buy things on website all the time


Q .To run HTML 5 does the user need to buy or download anything to run it?  if they have a newer device (laptop, iPhone, iPad, android) will it run without any intervention?

A. If you’re on a desktop you will need a recent version of one of the main browsers.  On modern mobiles and tablets you will not need to do anything at all.  It is worth noting that all browsers mobile or desktop differ as to there level of  HTML5, therefore, the developer needs to ensure the solution cover these discrepancies.


Q. What would users see if they were using a non HTML  5 browser?

A. At present the best option is to have a standard HTML site as well.  Hence the argument at present is between apps and HTML 5


Q. Is HTML 5 like flash?

A. In layman’s terms – You can think of HTML 5 as the catch all brand name that  contains a set of technologies HTML, jQuery, AJAX, CSS and even plain old JavaScript. It standardizes them.  HTML 5 is discussed alot in mobile terms as smartphones are relatively recent and since the IPhone most modern mobiles will support HTML5 (all the new version of major desktop browsers are also compatible to a degree, but unlike mobile we need to support older browsers, so the experience is not the same for all) .

HTML 5 has key items such as HTML5 Video player (no need for a flash video player) and a Canvas and support for animations. Plus  mobiles have the power to run it; plus HTML 5 is less memory and process hungry than flash. All this  means that in many instances you can use HTML instead of flash.  Note while i have mentioned HTML is moving closer to having Flash like capabilities (animation capable), it will likely always lag behind the full flash capabilities, mainly because HTML5 is standards based (committees and multiple companies involved), where flash is not.  It also lacks any form of  Integrated Developer Environment (IDE), Flash has a great one. Note Adobe labs have an HTML 5 IDE for animations, but its not production ready.


Q. What are the advantages over what we have now i.e html and Flash?

A. If we are talking about just web sites, then HTML  and Flash still hold, as browser support for HTML 5 is only at 40%, so most of users would not be able to use a HTML5 site!  However, when we are talking just mobile and tablets this is not the case. So when considering an app, you have an alternative.  the actual advantages of HTML5 over flash are the same as the current arguments, SEO, selectable text and usability.


Q. Am i developing in HTML 5 now?

A. You may not implicitly be doing this, but your likley using technology that make up HTML 5 an as such have the experience in place to create any HTML 5 site


Q. In your opinion will this become the standard or is it a passing fad?

A. Its not a passing fad, its taken years to get to this stage; the same can be said for XML and AJAX .  Its here for the long haul and will influence everything we do on the web.


Happy to be corrected!


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