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This is a guest editorial from Alan Roberts, a freelance writer and editor and part-time coder living in Portland, Oregon. He’s passionate about all things tech, and that also means all things video games. When he’s not busy writing or trying to beat the final boss he can be spotted enjoying Portland’s restaurant scene.
After more than 20 years and countless updates it looks as though Adobe Flash will finally pull the plug. The software that had earned the ire of Apple has been pushed aside in favor of HTML5. Much of its demise can be attributed to the rise of mobile development. With the ever-increasing ubiquity of mobile devices in the digital market it has become imperative for a product or service to be optimized for smartphones and tablets. HTML5 does a lot of that work for developers, which is a a large reason that it has become the new standard for mobile browsers.
HTML5 was rolled out in 2014, and it swiftly gained popularity as the preeminent model of development for mobile. It was designed in order to maintain easy readability for actual people while also increasing its compatibility with a larger number of devices. In its nascent form it was often compared to Flash, although the two couldn’t be more different. While both provide features that allow users to play audio and video content within pages, they go about it in different ways. In Flash it’s done directly in the program itself, but in HTML5 it’s performed in conjunction with either Javascript or CSS3.
This versatility has allowed HTML5 to adapt best to mobile browsers and become the preferred method for consuming web content through mobile devices. The day of HTML5 supplanting Flash as the dominant interactive language of the internet was predicted by late Apple founder Steve Jobs in his infamous missive, “Thoughts on Flash.” He noted that Flash falls short in regard to mobile devices, and he went so far as to say that “new open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win,” in an almost eerie display of prescience.
HTML5 has proven so adept at mobile development that it’s also become more prominently used for gaming. Modifying many browser-based games for mobile functionality used to be a tall order, but HTML5 has allowed mobile sites and apps to mirror their browser-based counterparts. This is particularly evident when looking at the online casino industry, in addition to console games. In both cases, we’ve seen established games available on larger platforms being adapted smoothly and easily for mobile devices.
Incidentally, the same devices are now the main place that people communicate, do business, and entertain themselves. As mobile continues to become the dominant platform for games (not to mention businesses, SAS products, and more) HTML5 has turned into a necessity for products to reach larger audiences.
It would seem that the battle for mobile supremacy is finally done. Adobe has announced that it will cease to support Flash in 2020. In the meantime the software will continue to be maintained, so users can still look forward to a myriad of updates for the dying platform before Adobe finally pulls the plug. Everyone has known that the end of Flash was coming sooner rather than later, but this is the most specific Adobe has been on when and how the product will be phased out.
Now that HTML5 will become the only game in town there’s likely to be a sharp increase in usage as more webpages and programs look to take full advantage of the burgeoning mobile market. The portable industry has become so large that developers choose to ignore it at their own peril. Sites and applications unable to make the transition to mobile devices are missing out on millions of potential users making HTML5 development more important than ever for companies.

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