There has been plenty of buzz about HTML5 and it being a “Flash killer.” I think HTML5 has great potential and will be a welcomed improvement to the web, but it is still in its infancy and does not show any signs of being able to compete with Flash anytime time soon. I think some of the confusion comes from the fact that it currently has the ability of embedding video and audio, which makes it a viable alternative regarding those commonly used features. However, if you have looked at animation and interactivity in HTML5 it does not compete with Flash at all. Here are some examples and another, which support my argument. FYI: My intent is not to demean these examples. They are good considering what the creators had to work with, a working DRAFT of HTML5 and are a sign of better things in the years to come. So, will HTML5 compete with Flash in the future, maybe but keep in mind it has a very steep climb and Flash will not be standing still waiting. I do think HTML5’s edge will be that Flash is not on all mobile devices including the iPhone and its larger version, the iPad. I also think the appearance of the iPad has greatly increased the buzz on HTML5 and may boost its demand.
Something that has also been confusing is its availability. Yes, a working draft is available today and browsers are starting to support it. However, the W3C candidate recommendation stage is expected in 2012 and will reach W3C recommendation in 2022, possibly later. No, that is not a typo, it does say 2022. See more on the estimated timeline here and also here. We will see advances and improvements over the next few years, but they will still be working drafts.
It will be very interesting in how e-learning authoring tools adopt and adapt to HTML5. I am sure many are exploring that now. As far as web development, Dreamweaver is already offering an extension so you can start exploring it now. The video below provides information on Dreamweaver and HTML5 along with an opinion on the “HTML5 and Flash” issue.
Bottom line, don’t put all your hopes in something that has yet delivered. Learn about it, keep an eye on it, even play around with the working drafts if you have the time and patience. Right now Flash is the best and most powerful tool in an e-learning developer’s toolbox and HTML5’s current draft can’t touch it. Will that change? Maybe, maybe not, but if it does it will be quite a while before HTML5 is a true competitor for Flash. Until HTML5 offers the same level of quality as Flash I will stick with Flash and still recommend it for any e-learning developer’s toolbox.