[Editor: The author of this post is Neo Zhang (@neozhang), co-founder of Guohe Ad, the largest advertising management and optimization platform for mobile applications in China, which offers professional solutions including mobile ad aggregation, optimization, management and data analytics for mobile developers.]

The breaking news in the developer community from last week is Adobe’s abandonment on mobile browser Flash in favor of HTML 5, which finally puts an end to the dispute over Flash and HTML 5.

Such dispute began in April 2010, when Steve Jobs publish an article titled Thoughts on Flash on Apple.com. In this article, Steve listed out reasons such as “open”, ”full web”, “reliability, security and performance”, “battery life” and “touch”, to explain that Apple will not let a third party layer of software exist between the iOS platform and the app developer. Thus, HTML 5 becomes the only choice besides native iOS experience, and the only choice for cross platform development. This article first raised the heated discussion about such topic within the industry. I still remember Adobe’s full-page advertisement on New York Times, with bolded “We Love Apple.”

One and half year later, we still did not see much exposure about Flash on mobile devices. Quite the opposite, HTML 5 is expanding in both desktop and mobile space at tremendous speed. It not only becomes an important element of web apps, but can also be applied to web games, interactive advertisements, or distributed as native applications in App Stores under the support of frameworks like PhoneGap. Adobe’s acquisition of Nitobi Software, the creator of HTML 5 mobile app framework PhoneGap and PhoneGap Build not long ago, shows its strategy shift from Mobile Flash to HTML 5.

Within the developer community, more software developers are turning from C++ and Java towards Objective C and Android. More books on such technologies are available. Native applications can completely support various device features with better performance. The developing tools are not worse than Flash at all. Moreover, with the ecosystem created by App Store and Android Market, and via in-app advertisements or purchases, native apps can conveniently earn revenues. In just a few years, millions of apps are downloaded onto billions of devices. This has never happened before in the developer community in the Flash era – do you still remember that Adobe did design an app store for Flash / AIR applications?

However, HTML 5 looks still less familiar to many developers. It seems that web technologies really need ownership. W3C is fairly slow-moving in the process of making HTML 5 / CSS 3 standards,  JavaScript as a language is confusing and lacks of consistent standard framework. When facing different devices and browser environments, HTML 5 has no edge to enhance performance or leverage hardware features. Recently, our team is planning a lightweighted product feature for mobile devices. I got such feedback from our product team, “HTML 5 might be the best choice for such feature, but making an application is what this team is better at.” Such comments may occur in many mobile development teams, because their DNA has already been transmitted onto native apps. Then we may have to face an awkward “brain drain” in HTML 5 talent pool when the smartest minds of our time get immersed in profound exploration of native app development.

HTML 5 needs a more definite leader. The developer community should be supplied with more explicit tech standards, more detailed tech guidelines, more user-friendly development and design tools, as well as streamlined development process, consistent design guidelines and even an App-Store-like ecosystem with organic business model. This will reduce the learning cost and encourage developers to form a community, or help developers get into the native app ecosystem through PhoneGap-like frameworks. Such positive cycle will lead to the explosion of massive code snippets, software libraries, SDKs, development tools, open source projects and commercial products within the system, to make considerable profits and further stimulate more development practices and more matured businesses. And this is the public secret of App Store’s success.

By the way, Mozilla website made a list of a few technologies usually called part of HTML 5 that aren’t. If interested, you can click here to check those plausible concepts out.

[image credited to Telecomnewspk]

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for explaining the flash and HTML. I will take what to use while doing development. 

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