What’s the best platform to use for a rich media website?

QUESTION:

My startup is making a rich media website. What’s the best platform to use, Javascript, HTML 5 or Flash/Flex? Flash can’t work on the iPhone, right? Is it still the best choice? My site includes video, music and gaming elements. – Diana

ANSWER:

Naomi Kokubo

Naomi Kokubo

by Naomi Kokubo

I highly recommend Flash if your project includes online games. Yes, Flash doesn’t work on the iPhone and iPad, but you’ll probably want to do a native iPhone app anyhow. On the Web, Flash still rules, and when combined with Flex, it’s quite powerful.

The problem with Javascript and HTML 5 is that they still aren’t quite there for gaming. And they aren’t as secure as Flash. People can see your source code more easily. If you don’t want to do games or animation, then Javascript/CSS/HTML 5 are probably your best bet for rich media sites.

Steve Lindstrom

Steve Lindstrom

by Steve Lindstrom

The other comments talk about using HTML 5 if you’re not making games, but be careful if you’re doing this. You still need to account for the fact that Internet Explorer (unfortunately) still has about 60% of the web browser market share since it ships with all Windows boxes (source: http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/03/internet-exp…). If you’re not doing games, then by all means you should rock HTML5 but do it in such a way that it degrades gracefully using flash for IE and older browsers.

Comments & Advice:
  1. Now if it's games or animation, I agree, stick with Flash/Flex. They're still the best and most complete solutions.

    However, if it's a rich media site, I think Javascript and HTML 5 are the way to go. They're the future of Web. That said, I'd try to do it with an open source package like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. There's also Expression Engine. If any of these packages can do what you need, you'll save a lot of time and money using them.

  2. The other comments talk about using HTML 5 if you're not making games, but be careful if you're doing this. You still need to account for the fact that Internet Explorer (unfortunately) still has about 60% of the web browser market share since it ships with all Windows boxes (source: http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/03/internet-exp…). If you're not doing games, then by all means you should rock HTML5 but do it in such a way that it degrades gracefully using flash for IE and older browsers.

  3. In your original question you mentioned “My site includes video, music and gaming elements.”

    The question is not whether to use html5, javascript, and Flash. But rather, how much to use them and under what context.

    As we move forward, it is wise to use html5 when and where you can — BUT, as mentioned above be sure to degrade gracefully. This is true of javascript as well. You need to make sure your site degrades gracefully when javascript is turned off.

    Video is an excellent place to use html5. With the proviso that you degrade gracefully to a flash widget — as mentioned above. By using html5 for video you make that aspect of your site available for devices that do not allow flash.

    I would not shy away from using javascript to create some games for your site. The biggest drawback to javascript has already been mentioned — it is open and available for anyone to view and steal. Even so, you can do some fun stuff. Here is a freebie idea for you that could become a word of mouth “you gotta see this silly page”. Conjunction Chaser. Wrap all the conjunctions on a page with span, then using javascript have the conjunctions run away from the cursor. Definitely a silly idea. But, it could be fun. AND, this is an example of something that is better implemented in javascript than Flash.

    However, even though you might do a few small things in javascript, Flash really is a work horse for adding games to your website.

    Here's another freebie for you. Allow your flash apps to degrade gracefully to a video clip for those systems that do not support flash. You can have the video be a discussion about the flash game they are missing. Or, you can have the video be a promo about the flash app they are missing. Or, you can have the video be a recording of someone playing the game. So they can see the game in action. This at least will give the non-flash systems something to look at.

    Hope this helps.

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