Scribd moves to HTML 5, ditches Flash

May 6, 2010 | 10:23

Tags: #adobe-flash #adobe-flash-player #flash #html-5 #html5 #ipad

Companies: #adobe #apple #scribd

HTML 5 - and, by extension, the iPad as a viable platform for browsing the full-fat web - got another high profile supporter this week as document sharing site Scribd pledged to move away from Adobe's Flash technology.

As reported over on TechCrunch, Scribd has started the work of completely removing its reliance on Flash to share high-quality digital versions of books, magazines, and other documents in favour of the open HTML 5 standard - without losing the fidelity and print-accuracy of the original Flash implementation.

The move is important in a number of ways: firstly, it gives Apple further ammunition for its "Flash is dead" stance vocalised by Steve Jobs recently while making Scribd accessible on its increasingly popular iPad slate, for which no Flash Player is available; secondly, it reduces the reliance on proprietary technologies that can bog down the web, potentially opening Scribd up for a wide range of devices that cannot - or will not - play back Flash content acceptably.

Jared Friedman, Scribd's chief technology officer and co-founder, told TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld that the company isn't taking the decision to scrap "three year of Flash development" lightly, but is choosing to "[bet] the company on HTML 5 because we believe HTML 5 is a dramatically better reading experience than Flash."

Currently, 200,000 of the site's most popular documents have already been converted to HTML 5 - and plans to convert the remainder of its content in the near future, after which it will become completely Flash free.

While support for HTML 5 is a good thing - especially for users who are unable to run a Flash Player plugin - the company risks alienating some users who are unable to use the new standard. Internet Explorer 9, which promises to bring full HTML 5 support to Microsoft's Windows platform, will not be available for Windows XP - forcing users onto an alternative browser if they want to use the future Flash-free version of Scribd, and potentially doing even more damage to Microsoft's sinking share of the browser market.

Do you agree that HTML 5 is the way forward and that Flash is an anachronism that is irrelevant on the modern web, or should companies be careful before they ditch a proven - if proprietary - system? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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