All three software―HTML5, Silverlight, and Flash―are standardized.
With design becoming more stylish and competitive, the hunt is on for the software that can do it all. Designers have faced a hurdle of compromising design over content. Although no complete solution has been found as yet, we debate on the 3 most important software used exclusively for web design.
Silverlight has launched its latest version 5.1, used for creating rich-media experiences, with Adobe not far behind, and its latest technology Flash promising streaming across websites. The race heats up with the venture of mobile devices and tablets becoming more prominent in today’s age. As websites scratch their head to find a balance over content and design, a new situation arises with making the website more in tune with your favorite social media sites. HTML5, in its new avatar, promises to embed videos and images easily, and reduce the loading time. With the introduction of new tags like Canvas and Geolocation, its most prominent example can be seen in Google Maps.
HTML is an open-source and free software used by all. It was conceived by WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group), consisting mostly of employees from Mozilla, Apple, and Google. It was developed because W3C decided to abandon the project midway and looked to expand XHTML2. But the project finally saw its way and HTML5 was born. It is light in weight as compared to all the others used in web development. It is compatible across all browsers.
Features of HTML5:
- It can run on all the major browsers.
- It is far more design-friendly.
- HTML5 provides global outreach of applications.
- The use of jQuery insulates us from cross-browser difficulties.
- CSS is a language used to enhance HTML with styles.
- A major benefit is Direct HTML support for drawing, animation, video, and audio.
- The new HTML 5 video element makes it just as easy to embed videos on a web page.
Limitations of HTML5:
- Not enough security available. Anyone with a code debugger can look at your code.
- HTML5 apps can’t be trusted with data collection. Data can be manipulated and has limited storage capabilities.
- Internet Explorer doesn’t support HTML5, although the latest versions do.
- The language is not very stable, and since html5 is still a work-in-progress, it could change anytime. It should develop a Graceful Degradation, such that it works even on old browsers, but offers users with modern browsers an enhanced experience.
- Rich media needs to be compressed in multiple formats to be compatible with most web browsers.
- You cannot provide your own equalizer changes to the audio. But Flash and Silverlight support this.
- Makes object management and layout tricky and unpredictable.
Silverlight was conceived by Microsoft in 1996. Although initially not successful, its later versions (2, 3, and 4) have been accepted by the public. It primarily works only on Windows. All the files can be included in its IDE and uploaded to the server. It faces direct competition by Flash and HTML5.
Features of Silverlight:
- Silverlight is proprietary.
- It uses XAML (Extensible Applicable Markup Language), and the size of its components are larger.
- Silverlight implements the VC-1 standard of all codecs. It supports mostly WMV and WMA. But it can implement H264 codec.
- It provides access to all system colors, allowing people with partial vision to use familiar operating system controls to change from high-contrasting color for easy readability.
- Silverlight supports only JPEG and PNG formats.
- It splits up its components:
- XML file
- DLL file
- Silverlight, .js file
- Resources (image, video)
- It sends a request to the client server for each request. This can be advantageous as the content can be easily optimized.
- Silverlight supports online streaming by providing picture in picture, pausing the live video stream, rewinding, slow-motion, and downstreaming when the bandwidth is slow. With smooth streaming, you can jump to different spots in the video.
Limitations of Silverlight:
- Compared to Flash, Silverlight can be found only on 64% of PCs.
- Silverlight uses no compression on its images and animations; hence, it takes longer to load.
- It can only support JPGs and PNGs. It can read camera raws, but cannot write them. It can read GIF files in 1-,4-,8- data streams.
- Silverlight doesn’t support web and microphone transmission.
- It needs to separate its content and send it separately to the server.
- It doesn’t support audio files, because the .NET framework offers little audio support.
- Silverlight doesn’t run on Solaris and Linux machines.
Flash was introduced by Macromedia in 1996. It is frame-based not time-based. All websites created in Flash are dynamic in nature. It is used for creating vectors, graphics, animation, games, and rich Internet applications. Most of us have a Flash player installed on our personal devices. This is called a plug-in, without which, it’s impossible to run Flash. Animations are programmed by an object-oriented language called ActionScript. It is equipped with controls for designing user interfaces.
Features of Flash:
- Flash integrates text, audio, video, and images in binary format together into a single file known as SWF (Shockwave file).
- It uses ActionScript for designing user interfaces, and can be integrated with other technologies such as PHP, ASP, and RubyonRails.
- It supports multiple video formats, but its usage of the .H263 codec is a mutant version of the original.
- It provides rich accessibility features for those who have hearing and vision problems. It provides captions and keyboard shortcuts to scroll the play to stop buttons. You can adjust the sound level via the numeric keys.
- Ideal for all kinds of trainings, including product and process trainings, soft-skill trainings, and even software simulations.
- Flash is available on all operating systems and supports all image formats.
- Flash has web cam and microphone support for web transmissions.
- A Flash movie can be compiled into a Windows application and run as a stand-alone EXE file.
- Content streamed from Flash Media Server is not only safe from being grabbed from a server, but Flash Media Server even comes in an Edge Edition, which you can place on a server outside the firewall. This way, your media files are safely kept behind your firewall, and no content is stored on a machine that is accessible to the Internet.
Limitations of Flash:
- It takes longer to load than HTML websites.
- A flash player needs to be installed to see the website.
- Difficult to optimize for search engines, since web crawlers can’t read the text on Flash websites.
- Can’t stream movies and doesn’t take advantage of the GPU to make it feature-rich.
- Users cannot use the back button in Flash.
- Contact information cannot be highlighted and passed to a contact manager such as Outlook.
- Pages within a Flash website cannot be bookmarked.
- Users sometimes block Flash due to slow loading pages.
The following table gives a graphic representation of the software and its features:
|Reduced File Size
|Hardware Acceleration & 3D Graphics
|Easy For Deployment
Selecting the right technology is critical, and choosing between HTML5, Silverlight, and Flash depends on your requirements. Having said that, if you wish to target Linux users, you should use Flash or HTML5. If you wish your website to be targeted by search engines, then Silverlight or HTML would be a better option. It is noteworthy to know that Netflix, which used Silverlight to stream movies, is thinking of shifting to HTML5, as Silverlight intends to end its contract by 2021. Flash, which was part of the Adobe family, has been sold to Apache. It released its latest version for Google. Flash content couldn’t run on iOS devices, but now it can be bundled in an Air App and viewed on the phone.
In retrospect, all three technologies continue to be a part of the RIA (Rich Internet Application) architecture. You could use either one or all of them to create your site; the choice is yours.