Monthly Archives: May 2010

Flash v HTML5

As part of a new side project (like I didn’t have enough going on), I’m being strongly urged to update and revamp a website.   So far we’ve tried drafting up a mock site with Silverlight only to have it fail to appear on about 90% of our other reviewers’ computers.  And, although I liked the built-in comment editing, we have yet to figure out how to send/export such said comments back to our web guy.  Previously, we’ve dealt with basic HTML/CSS/Javascript sites and have dabbled a bit in Flash.  Given the frequent flogging of Flash, I’m not inclined to pursue such a graphically rich but incredibly buggy software for a site I want to only create once.  Furthermore, optimistically speaking, it’d be nice to have our tech friendly patrons be able to access the site from an iPhone or iPad, as well.  So, what about HTML5….

Well, Wired’s WebMonkey has done a pretty excellent post reviewing the complicated relationship we as developers and users have with both Flash and HTML5.

Key points are:

  • Browsers need to agree on a *single* codec for video file formats and stick with it; currently, the contenders are Ogg, MPEG’s H.264, and possibly also VP8 –>hopefully, it won’t be quite as drawn out of a decision as  VHS vs Beta (I still ❤ my old Beta, all the same) or HD DVD vs Blu-ray
  • IE9 (Internet Explorer) will include HTML5 support….in late 2010/early 2011.  According to the latest statistics at W3 schools, about 33% of people are still using some sort of IE as their web browser.  This would be a HUGE chunk of the population to miss.
  • Since Flash is private, although it may not dominate the video field, it doesn’t have the same slow revision and adoption process that an open standard like HTML5 does.  Therefore, Flash could develop itself into other niche components of the web long before HTML5 can get there.

While this hasn’t exactly cleared the field with one obvious option, at least I make a smart decision based on my imagined client’s needs.  To take a peek at what people have been doing with HTML5 so far here are a few suggestions.

HTML5 is certainly pretty as this Belgian site has been able to create a lovely rolling slideshow of products and TMMD has a nice sleek video and image layout.  Google is pushing the standard quite hard and has even experimented with HTML5 in YouTube (again, could you imagine having a iPhone that couldn’t play YouTube videos?). But, no matter how good the tools are, the graphically design challenged (not that I did much better in my web design class) can still make a webpage ugly.  I’ll keep you updated on the adventure that will be website redesign….

Gmail: Friend or foe?

UPDATE: Well, having Google’s Calendar go down unexpectedly for the day is definitely one reason not to work with Google.

For awhile, libraries have been struggling with the relationship that is, that was, and that will be with Google.  The books project has been the major source of library controversy, but even now Gmail is facing scrutiny by larger government and academic institutions.  For example, UC Davis has decided to NOT use Gmail or the related Google applications over privacy and data security concerns.  This follows after the hold Yale placed on a similar transfer to Gmail as the school’s email platform while the City of Los Angeles did go full-throttle with the deal.    One of the main sticking points and concerns even for LA was the location of Google’s cloud servers for their email system.  Given the hack UC Berkeley experienced from China a year ago, location, location, location is becoming a prominent factor in Google’s functionality.  Even Google’s own problems with China and hackers haven’t gone unnoticed in the early part of 2010.  Using Gmail as a student, an instructor, and an employee has been quite easy as I an chat with my students within my email, schedule meetings with myself and other co-workers, and even track and graph course feedback without manual creation of graphs and data plotting.  As an undergrad, my school’s email system was hardly searchable and lacked integration with other resources, such as course pages, calendars, or documents.  Graduate school had a similar system which led me to rely on Gmail for collaborating on virtual group projects, papers, and presentations. Just as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer contains security vulnerabilities, I suspect Microsoft’s ability to provide a comparable and more secure email product.  Furthermore, logical access and usability design has not been Microsoft’s current strength in its product line (ahem, still having to explain how to use Microsoft Word 2007 in 2010, anyone?).  Even now, I am dabbling with Microsoft’s SharePoint and find myself endlessly frustrated with odd configurations; even for simple tasks like adding an anchor link to another part of the same webpage, I have to manually set the anchor in the HTML since there is no Rich Text method.  What have your experiences been with university email systems? Would Gmail be an improvement or a setback?