Will HTML 5 replace Flash in the next 5 years?

Author’s Note: This is the first post in what we hope to make series: “Ask a Web Strategist”. These are intended to be relatively short, public answers to questions web technology and strategy we receive. Do you have a question? !

Question: I’m all bent out of shape about the Flash vs. HTML 5 debate. I’m interested to hear your opinion about it. Will Adobe Flash still have a place on the web in 5 years?

Answer: Generally, trying to predict where any technology in a field susceptible to rapid change will be in 5 years is a losing game. Flash will probably be around for many years to come, but we’d bet on a much smaller place.

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Typekit: the font solution we’ve been waiting for?

Ask any front end web developer to describe common challenges involved in converting (or “cutting”) a design. Ask a designer who’s savvy about front end web technology what the biggest creative limitation of the web “canvas” is. In both instances, you’d likely hear an earful about fonts.

For the front end web developer, it’s all about taking someone else’s creative – often designed on a highly controlled and extremely flexible canvas like Adobe Photoshop – and implementing it in the much less controlled and much less flexible world of HTML/CSS/JavaScript. Sometimes, a design that look great as a static image or storyboard just doesn’t translate well into web code, especially when not-so-design-sophisticated clients have to maintain the content and some of the imagery.

Fonts have long been a classic example. A storyboard designer can use any font they have installed on their own computer to make a beautiful design, but hacks aside, web browsers have only been able to render text with fonts installed on the visitors’ computers. Since there are only a handful of fonts that are more or less guaranteed to be on  all modern computers (think Arial and Times New Roman), websites have been limited to a handful of uninteresting choices.

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Interactive Flash maps: using web games to teach concepts

Any educator will tell you that the best way to communicate a concept is not just by stating it, but by opening the door for the learner to discover the concept by way of their own experience or reasoning. Science experiments that go on in classrooms across the country are a testament to the importance of knowledge earned through experience, known, in the case of science, as experiments. Learning on the web, often called eLearning, is no different.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a D.C. based think-tank dedicated to advancing educational excellence in U.S. schools, understands this concept as well as anyone. So when they approached us to help them build an interactive study resource and web based game to illustrate some concepts for their “Accountability Illusion” report, we were excited to get started.

Interactive Flash Maps for Fordham Institute

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