I am curious if it is possible to animate a face in a similar fashion to how the body is animated at this site:

Using HTML5 instead of Flash (primarily so the site would be viewable on devices that do not use Flash).

If it is possible, what are the pros and cons to using HTML5 over Flash for this situation (performance, time to develop project)?

Also, where would I look to begin such a project?  (for Flash I would simply jump into Adobe's program and look for tutorials related to it if I needed information, not sure where to go for HTML5 at this point)

asked 11/30/2011 08:08

Ecnalyr's gravatar image

Ecnalyr ♦♦

6 Answers:
The web, and web standards have always been in a state of change, and today is no different.

Many people believe that HTML5 / Javascript / CSS3 is the log term bet for 'clever' web pages. But in the shorter term these technologies are *not* the way to reach the largest audience (I assume you want as many people to be able to view your content as possible).

Firstly, HTML5 is *not* yet a standard. The W3C (the body that oversees / sets web standards) are not expecting to ratify HTML5 (in their words) "...until 2014" -

There is also a big problem with your audience if you go that route that might prevent as many 36% of ALL computers from viewing your content. The stats take a little digging into so take these in one at a time - they 'build' to give the overall picture.

* around 90% of all computers have Microsoft Windows as the operating system
* the most popular 'flavour' of Windows is *still* Windows XP with a share of 40%
* 40% of 90% is around 36%. So 36% of all computers in the world - more than a third - are running Windows XP
(shifting tack here, but stay with me...)
* The only version of Microsoft Internet Explorer that supports HTML5 is IE9
(and here's the killer fact)
* IE9 does *not* work on Windows XP
Conclusion: 36% of all computers cannot show web pages built with HTML5

Now, it is possible for Windows XP users to switch to an alternate browser (Chrome, Firefox) that does support HTML5, but think about it... Who are these people who are still running Windows XP, 10 years after it's launch? Two groups mainly - your mum and your grandma (and any other less than tech-savvy people), plus those on corporate networks who cannot migrate while their IT department stays with XP. (You know CNET ? That bunch of great tech journalists? On the podcasts I listen to they complain that their IT infrastructure is still on XP!)

So, the minus point is : if you build web pages today using HTML5, you risk excluding 30%+ of your audience.

What about the plus points then? You get to include all those sexy new devices, right? Yes! You can have iphone (et al) and other smartphones viewing your content. Great!

But hang on - how big is that market? Will it make up for the 30% of 'old' users you lost? Sadly not. According to the *total* browsing market for mobile devices right now is less than 7%. That means less than 7% of total web browsing is done on mobile devices.

Of course the smart thing to do is include *both* sets of users - new and old. Trouble is that means you have to build two sets of content, 'sniff' the user to find out what device they are viewing your page on, and deliver HTML5 to new devices, and regular HTML and Flash to the old users . The big traffic websites can afford to do it, but if your budget is limited this might prove difficult.

Enough facts - I'll close with an opinion.

I think the trend lines show two things 1) that Flash is likely to remain the mainstay for rich content on computers, and 2) 'clever' stuff will be done on mobile devices using apps, and not 'clever' web pages.

You can take or leave my opinion, but I hope the facts help.


quizengine's gravatar image


Very good points as far as demographics go, and that will likely influence the course of this project.

However, I am still curious if it is -possible- to do in HTML5?

If so, where could I get information to get started if I chose that path (although I am likely to not do so at this point)?

answered 2011-12-01 at 04:45:26

Ecnalyr's gravatar image


Ok, here's a thought - and my apologies if it doesn't work - I'll point out some things that I think Flash does that HTML5 doesn't / can't do. If I'm right and we hear 'tumbleweed' can we assume my assumptions are correct? I'm sure instead what will happen is HTML5 supporters will flood the thread with comments showing me how wrong I am, and how HTML5 *can* do what you want.... Here goes..

I believe there are many things that Flash can do, that HTML5 / Javascript / CSS3 either does poorly, or not at all - am I right? (and please back up your answers with urls demonstrating the claims you make for HTML5 etc)

For example, in the url linked to in the question ( there are several things there that Flash has offered for years - can HTML5 do these things?

* the ability to switch performance settings in the player (the 'fast cpu / slow cpu' buttons in the content linked to - I don't mean the low / hi bandwidth, but the ability to 'upscale / downscale' the graphic quality / features

* the ability to 'layer' the actors - have things pass in front of and behind each other

* have 'bones' (inverse kinematics) to make animating easier / better

* have dynamic filters such as 'blur' / 'drop shadow' applied to the images. (I can see how an HTML5 app / widget could load multiple 'states' of an image that were pre-rendered, but that's wasteful in terms of filesize - can it be done dynamically on images using code like Flash does?)

* Although this piece doesn't use it, Adobe have announced 'Stage 3D' - a 3D API for actionscript. Does HTML5 have a 3D API? (Again I can see how 'fake' 3D can be simulated using pre-rendered things, but can *dynamic* (i.e. user controlled / generated) 3D be done).

I could go on, but I think that's enough to start the stones flying...

(Oh, and errr... one last thing... Since Flash does do all of these things and much more - If HTML5 cannot do all of these things, why are some people wanting it to replace Flash? Surely the 'new' thing should be better than the old?)

Tin hat on....  

answered 2011-12-01 at 05:05:26

quizengine's gravatar image


While you make many good points about how HTML 5 cannot completely replace Flash, I believe the main issue the author is concerned with is compatibility with mobile devices such as the iPad and iPhone or other devices that will soon stop supporting mobile flash.  Regardless of all the benefits of Flash, it's not an option on these platforms.

Adobe is embracing HTML 5 and if you are familiar with developing in Flash, check out the latest version of Creative Suite.

answered 2011-12-01 at 05:14:04

joshbula's gravatar image


Hi joshbula.

I did see that in the question, but since Ecnalyr also is also considering whether to develop in Flash or not, it seems likely that mobile devices are not the only target, since I'm sure the author knows that Flash isn't viewable on some mobile devices.

The two points I was trying to raise awareness of was a) HTML5 is not as good as Flash is at certain things, and therefore any 'rich' content created in HTML5 may fall short of what could have been achieved with Flash. And b) the market for mobile web browsing is still a small one. Yes it is growing, but it seems to me that many are losing their 'business sense' and thinking '<panic><panic> I have to develop for that because it's the *new* thing' without being rational about it, and looking at the numbers first.

Surely if you're a business that wants to stay in business, you should put most of your effort / money where most of the audience is? And that is *not* mobile devices, yet. And if you've got deep pockets / resources - develop different products to address different areas of the market.

answered 2011-12-01 at 05:24:35

quizengine's gravatar image


This appears to be a decent place to start if I want to work in HTML5.

The necessity for mobile support seems less significant given the noted data, but I also feel that this information would be a little more swayed toward the mobile demographic because of the actual targeted audience. (though I'm not stating that I have any hard data on that front)

answered 2011-12-01 at 05:43:07

Ecnalyr's gravatar image


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Asked: 11/30/2011 08:08

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Last updated: 12/01/2011 06:26