The Future Flash: HTML

How much of a shock to your system is that title?

It very well could turn out to be true. For years, Adobe Flash has given us rich Internet applications, bloated browser plug-ins, and long-lingering security exploits. It doesn't work on important systems such as iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad), and 64-bit Linux support is abysmal.

So, leave it up to the people who write Web standards to take a proprietary, sloppy, but widely utilized Web technology and make it work.

The new HTML5 spec is currently being adopted by Web browsers. What does this mean for the game developer?

Flash without Flash
You can get pretty much every bit of functionality out of new HTML5 elements that you could from Flash. Whether you want to embed video, audio, or - yes, even games - into a Web site, it is now possible without Flash.

To prove this theory, I have written a game using only HTML5 and basic JavaScript. It is a space shoot-'em-up, with sprites that scale and rotate, and can be faded in and out with an alpha setting.

Uh oh, ship go boom.

It's payback time!

Of course, not all is flowers and butterflies, yet. The game works great in Firefox 3.6+, but has a few bugs in the WebKit (Safari, Opera) browsers. It won't work at all in Internet Explorer 8!

Make no mistake - HTML5 is the future. The standard is still going through its share of growing pains, so to speak. However, at present, its status of adoption by current browsers may leave a bit to be desired.

If you have Firefox 3.6+, in the meantime, give my game a try. Head on over to my Web games site and give Spacite a whirl. While doing so, remember that this was all done using standard HTML5 and JavaScript.

In the next few years, as implementation of the HTML5 standard grows, we will see some great leaps and bounds in rich Internet applications and Web games. WebGL, which is an OpenGL implementation designed for Web sites, will be enabled in your browser by default in releases coming in the near future. Until then, the HTML5 Canvas element can do pretty much anything that Flash can. You can even write HTML5 applications for the iPhone and other iDevices - something you can't do with Flash.

Keep it tuned here for future articles that will teach you how to implement this rising technology, and without software costing nearly $1000US or the finicky Flex SDK.

With development this easy, HTML5 is truly poised to become the future Flash.

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