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An Honest Open Discussion on Web Standards and HTML 5

If you monitor the web, you likely think that the Flash Player and Silverlight are on life support, and that HTML5 is rapidly changing what is possible on the web. In reality, many people who are commenting on HTML5 don’t fully understand the current landscape. Did you know that HTML5 editor Ian Hickson stated that HTML5 won’t fully be implemented in all browsers until 2022? Did you know that iPhone developers can start fully using HTML5 now? Did you know that all features in HTML5 were originally from web plugins? Did you know that Google uses a web plugin for Google Wave?

We need an open honest discussion about HTML5 and what it means for the web. Unfortunately, you aren’t going to get the truth from fanatics on either side, but instead we all need to examine all of the evidence and come to our own conclusions. I have spent a great deal of time analyzing the facts, and in the process I have made several observations.

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Observations about Apple, the iPhone, PhoneGap, and the Flash Player

I have several developer friends who aren’t Flash Platform developers. Many of them have been down on Flash/Flex content lately – and a good deal of it has centered around the iPhone. After all – the iPhone doesn’t have Flash because of performance / battery life issues, right? Not exactly. In my opinion, it is something a bit deeper. While this post won’t change the whole Flash / iPhone saga, hopefully it will help educate you on some of the motives that aren’t always publicly shared.

In this while debate, I have made three observations about Apple that have shaped my perspective:

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Announcing ‘AIR for Flash Developers’ at Lynda.com

AIR for Flash Developers

I am really excited to announce that my Lynda.com series, AIR for Flash Developers was released yesterday. The series is now available via the Online Training Library, and it will soon be available on DVD.

In this series, you will get to build an entire web browser without ever leaving Flash CS3. In addition, you will build a photo viewer, an online / offline contact manager, and get to work extensively with the AIR API.

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Great Walkthrough of the Flex Component Kit for Flash CS3

Adobe Evangelist Serge Jespers has a great overview of the Flex Component Kit for Flash CS3 on his site. He walks the user through the process of creating a Flex component from the FLVPlayback component in Flash CS3. I agree with Serge that the component kit has a lot of power – and many developers are under-utilizing it. I just used it on an application I just finished last week (more on that later).

The Flash and Flex Marriage

ActionScript 4 and 5 Wishlist

A bit of discussion has developed from my previous article, Moock on ActionScript 4 about features that people would like to see in future versions of ActionScript. Obviously at the top of the list (mentioned by Dave) we have Threads. Does anyone have other things you want to see in the next versions of ActionScript?

Moock on ActionScript 4

Colin Moock is presenting details of ECMAScript 4 at FITC. He has posted some of his lecture notes regarding changes (that will probably be present in ActionScript 4 as well). These changes include:

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Flash Media Server 3

There were two big announcements this week for the Flash platform. First, the new dot-release of Flash Player 9 (codename MovieStar) was released last night. This means that h.264 is now included in the Flash Player (and hopefully for AIR in the near future). There are also many new changes that you can read about here.

However, there was even bigger news. Adobe announced the versions and pricing for Flash Media Server 3. Here is the new product page.

What does this mean? It means that Flash Video’s presence on the Internet will now mostly eclipse all other formats. Some companies (such as the BBC) stayed away from flash video until recently because of the excessive cost of the multi-server FMS setup. Companies now don’t have to shell out $40,000 up front. Now they can add servers as needed and have it scale much easier. This also opens the door to utilizing Amazon EC2 servers (as Ted Patrick mentioned). Now with h.264 added (with the Flash Player update), what is there to stop Flash Video?

Flash Media Server 3 Unveiled

Adobe released a press release regarding Flash Media Server 3 today. The FAQ below gives the details of the next release. So much of this is exciting! However, I was quite disappointed that the server-side scripting will still be Actionscript 1. At least the client side will be Actionscript 3 – and we can finally use AMF3 with FMS.

Flash Media Server 3 preview FAQ

Flash Player Future

Ted Patrick had an intriguing post on the future of the Flash Player (in relation to the Silverlight release) on his blog.

“At Adobe MAX 2007 in Chicago we are going showing off the next full release of Flash Player code named “Astro”. The features are mind numbing and add capabilities far beyond anything the market today. The future of Adobe Flash Player looks very bright indeed.”

-Ted Patrick

Man, after the h.264 announcement, what else could there be? If you have any predictions, leave a comment.