Thursday, August 04, 2011

Adobe Caves To HTML5 - Creates New "Edge" Tool

Adobe announced this week that it's released a new (pre beta) tool called "Edge" that is designed to replace... er... "compliment" Flash. This still-in-the-oven tool will allow users to create fluid animations of objects on new (or existing) web pages with a graphical user interface using nothing more than HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3.

Steve Jobs must be laughing his ass off right now.

Let's face it - Flash is soooooo 1996. That's when a product called "FutureSplash Animator" was released. Never heard of it? Well, after the creators tried to sell the product to Adobe (in 1996) and Adobe passed - another heavy hitter (back in the day) - Macromedia heard about it and acquired the small company and their development team.

Macromedia (itself acquired by Adobe in 2005 for $3.4 billion!)  changed the name "SuperSplash Animator" to "Flash" - a combination of "Future" + "Splash" - and thanks to companies like Disney and MSN - Flash took off (MSN actually delayed their initial launch until Flash 1.0 was finished)

So, why did Flash succeed? Basically because plain HTML sucked. At the time, doing a plug-in to the browser was the only way to do these advanced animations and graphics. And, oh yeah, once Adobe got their hands on it - they convinced OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to bundle Flash with their operating systems/browsers - so no one had to really "install" it.

Designers loved it because it allows them to create beautiful artwork in, say, Photoshop and then turn it over to the animators/designers to work their coding magic on the finished piece.

Animators/designers loved it - because... well... there simply was nothing else (well, besides Macromedia Director - which became Adobe Director).

So - that's how we got to where we are. Now - where are we headed? Answer: HTML5.

Why? Because Google and Steve Jobs say so. Period.

Nowadays everyone except Adobe hates flash.

Apple hates Flash.
Google hates Apple - but it really hates Flash as well.
Microsoft hates Flash so much they created a Flash rip-off called Silverlight (which they now also hate as well).

The fact that (finally) HTML is major getting a face lift (and tummy tuck, liposuction, and boob job) finally means that browser plug-ins that provide core functions will no longer be necessary. He said hopefully...

HTML should have been updated 10 years ago. But, 10 years ago, everyone was still going nuts on this whole "Internet thing" - and focusing more on business models and valuations than on the underlying technology to make it all work.

To make matters worse, HTML is open-source and free - which means the old view of "... I'm not spending my developer's time to enhance something for everyone - it doesn't provide value for our company" - or, as I like to call it, selfish greed - caused us to be where we are.

It was just easier and cheaper to write stuff in Flash - and because it was already installed on 90% of all computers out-of-the-box, it became a standard. It took someone with a strong personality (Steve Jobs) to draw a line in the sand (like he also did with software distribution and music distribution and iTunes, etc) to say enough is enough.

Besides Steve Jobs' temper tantrum, we also have a renaissance in the browser industry - spurred on first by Firefox and then by Google. Both of these "new" browsers decided to go with HTML5 at their core (or at least to adopt Apple's open-source WebKit HTML rendering engine). Even Microsoft - the king of "me too" - decided to "embrace" HTML5 in Internet Exploder Explorer 9 (or they would have lost the browser wars over time).

So, now that you're all hyped-up on HTML5 and as you wait for Edge to come out of the oven - there's a $30 Mac-based application called Hype that will do more than Edge does (for now) - and it'll help you get your feet wet with HTML5.

So, let's recap:

HTML5/JavaScript/CSS3 = "good".
Flash = "bad".
Adobe = "we better get on the train or we will become as irrelevant as Microsoft".

I, for one, sure hope that Flash goes the way of the floppy disk - and that "plain old" HTML continues to be actively extended as we move forward. It won't happen overnight, but fellow Internet users rejoice: a Flash-free browser experience is on the horizon!

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