Feeds

50 million user Scribd scraps Flash for HTML5

Doc sharer dubs plug-in 'incessantly bad experience'

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Web 2.0 Expo Scribd - the document sharing site that boasts 50 million unique users a month - has told the world that after three years and "multi-millions" of dollars of development on Flash, it's ditching the beleaguered platform in favor of the fledgling HTML5 standard.

Company co-founder and CTO Jared Friedman announced the move this morning at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, calling it "the largest HTML5 deployment to date." Friedman and crew have already moved 200,000 documents from Flash to HTML5, and eventually, the company will transfer all documents stored on the site, which number in the tens of millions.

Friedman was careful to call Flash "a terrific technology." But somewhere along the line, Scribd realized it's a plug-in. "[Flash] has always had a few drawbacks," he said. "It boils down to the fact that you're putting the content inside a separate application. This leads to a browser-in-a-browser problem where we end up duplicating functionality in the user's browser ourselves.

"This is one, a lot of work, and two, almost incessantly a bad user experience."

Friedman acknowledged that until recently, handling documents in the browser proper wasn't the best option. "The biggest challenge is formatting. Documents use very complex formatting - vector graphics, rotated text, precise positioning - that was difficult to replicate in a webpage," he said. "Browsers only supported a dozen fonts. Without the right font, you can't reproduce the document effectively."

But now that the major browsers have rolled out support for additional fonts through the @font-face element and for vector graphics through either the canvas tag or VML, Friendman says, Scribd believes it can serve 97 per cent of all browsers without Flash. "This even includes IE6," he said. Not even Internet Explorer 9 has embraced the canvas tag, but that's where VML comes in.

Scribd can convert documents originally formatted by Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org, or in PDF, PostScript, rich text, or plain text formats

Naturally, Friedman demoed his new HTML5 setup on an iPad. The iPad is controlled by a Silicon Valley cult that has a pathological aversion to Flash. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE
Tim Berners-Lee isn't happy, but we should be
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?