On Converting Flash to HTML

I received a question from Bob (no, really), who wrote: I have a question about the newest version of Flash and its HTML publishing option using CreateJS. What do you think of that approach going forward? I started to write an email response but figured I should probably post it here. I haven’t been paying much attention to Flash, so I don’t know what the ‘HTML export’ is capable of these days. In general, I’m very wary of converting Flash-based projects to HTML. When Adobe Captivate first released a “publish to HTML5” feature, all it did was convert the SWF …

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Flash support is increasingly a minefield

Back in 2011, I mentioned that Microsoft was about to halt development of the Silverlight plugin, that Flash mobile was being discontinued, and that Adobe recommended HTML5 for enterprise RIA development instead of Flex, which was being open-sourced. My post was a little long-winded, but the short version was: whoa, the times-are-a-changin’, it’s getting dangerous to rely on browser plugins. Over the last year, the situation has evolved in an interesting way — browser support for plugins (especially Flash Player) has been considerably restricted by browser vendors due to repeated security vulnerabilities in Flash Player and Java. Automatically disabling Flash Player …

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Providing the same UI across browsers

If you change the default controls to match the look and feel of something your visitor has never seen before, you run the risk of creating confusion, distrust, or alienation. Even worse, if the controls are poorly made or conceived — and many are — you might make your site less usable. A cardinal sin.

The more I think about it, the real beneficiaries of a uniform UI across browsers aren’t the site visitors, but rather the designers who demand artistic control and the clients who insist the product looks the same everywhere, without understanding that it’s okay (even expected) to have some differences.

HTML5 Video, minus Ogg

Mozilla, the makers of Firefox, refuse to support the MP4/H.264 standard because it isn’t open-source and free from licensing constraints. Without Ogg, Firefox’s HTML5 video is rendered useless and requires a Flash-based fallback system. However, Firefox’s handling of the video element breaks the fallback mechanism. A scripted solution is required.

Here’s a simple script that will detect whether HTML 5 video is supported in the browser, and if it is, will check to see if this is Firefox. If yes, it deletes the specified video element but leaves the Flash fallback in its place.

Viewing PDFs in a Browser on a Mac

As a Mac user, one of the more annoying issues I frequently encounter is funky PDF handling in Firefox and Safari. Here are some things you can do to get PDFs working in your browser(s).

Eolas is at it again

This week — a year and a half after settling with Microsoft — Eolas has gone on the attack again, filing suit against “Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Argosy Publishing (publisher of The Visible Body), Blockbuster, Citigroup, eBay, Frito-Lay, GoDaddy, J. C. Penney, JPMorgan Chase, ‘transactional’ adult entertainment provider New Frontier Media, Office Depot, Perot Systems, Playboy Enterprises, Rent-a-Center, Staples, Sun Microsystems, Texas Instruments, Yahoo, and YouTube.”

Gotchas in Internet Explorer 8

Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) is at Release Candidate 1, which means it will be released very shortly. IE8 is a brand-new browser and will represent a considerable shift from IE7/IE6; it will follow standards more closely and will offer much improved CSS 2.1 support. However, because of some of these changes, it is also widely understood that IE8 might ‘break’ websites that have relied on IE-specific hacks targeted at previous versions if Internet Explorer.

Dealing with Internet Explorer in your JavaScript Code

It’s almost the end of 2008, and thanks to the hard work of web standardistas, browser vendors, and JavaScript framework developers, cross-browser JavaScript code is much less of an issue than it used to be. Even Microsoft is feeling the love — the upcoming Internet Explorer 8 will be a (mostly) clean break from legacy Internet Explorer releases and will behave much more like Firefox, Safari (WebKit) and Opera. …And they rejoiced.

So why is it that when I look under the hood of some recently produced web pages (learning management systems, courses produced by e-learning rapid development tools, general web pages, etc.), the pages’ JavaScript often includes incredibly out-of-date and bad-practice Internet Explorer detection?

Here’s a quick rundown on the dos and don’ts.

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