HTML 5 Vs. Flash

Hearing all the buzz about HTML5 soon being able to push Flash out of the internet scene, can be a sign of changing times to some, bad news to some other(especially veteran flash designers) and a need to upgrade to well…almost all!

I would put myself in the 2nd and 3rd category simultaneously, so obviously I have been tracking all arguments for and against the two. A recent study posted by Mike Chambers has given me considerable comfort in knowing that newer is not always better.

Two of the things that Flash is often criticized for is that it:

  1. Uses too much CPU
  2. Performs significantly worse on the Mac than on Windows

Mike has taken the effort to test rich content like video deployed via HTML 5, JavaScript / Canvas animations, Flash Video, and Flash animations on CPU usage and other performance criteria across different browsers and operating systems. Though this was not a scientific study, this one holds relevance in normal, non-lab scenarios.

The study found that

  • From these tests, Flash content does not perform consistently worse on Mac than on Windows.
  • There is a wide range of CPU usage for HTML 5 video, depending on the browser / operating system it is being played back on, with Mac generally being slower.
  • Canvas / JavaScript animations (at least those tested) seem to have high CPU usage and generally run slower on Mac than on Windows (although not in all cases).
  • Some of the HTML / JavaScript content would not run across all browsers.
  • There seems to be some bug in the tested Flash Player when playing back video in Firefox. CPU usage would climb very high, and then drop. (I have reported this to the team).
  • Availability of hardware acceleration for playing back video looks like it makes a huge difference in CPU usage (duh!).
  • Regardless of technology (Flash and JavaScript / HTML), performance of rich media can vary widely depending on which browser / operating system it runs on.

You can look for details of the findings on Mike’s popular blog

So all Flash lovers, take heart and move on. But remember, this world is all about upgrade or perish!