50 million user Scribd scraps Flash for HTML5
Doc sharer dubs plug-in 'incessantly bad experience'
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. ®
Browser plugins cripple the advancement of HTML and the web. If something isn't possible in the browser without a plugin then propose a standard, let people review it and improve it.
This is how the net used to work, people put out an RFC and others commented, it was then implemented.
POP3, NNTP and SMTP all started that way.
Open it up!
Enough with the closed source lock in.
Wiping the <LOL> off your face
You clearly haven't even bothered to look into how web pages work beyond Flash, but here's some info anyway.
"Experience tells me that embedded font rendering is a major reason why most brands choose Flash for interactive media, because they can't use the relevant branded fonts in other solutions - it looks crap."
"The latest Flash Player even moves into dynamic typographical layout territory and makes use of overflow text boxes, something that you'll see in Quark Xpress, Illustrator and Indesign."
The latest Flash player uses Webkit to render all that stuff. It's practically Safari with a load of plugins and scripting libraries. So, anything Flash can do, Safari can do. And so can any other browser. Opera can rotate text and skew it and do all sorts of stuff.
"handle tween animation?"
CSS3 transformations. I use them and they look nice in Opera, Safari and Firefox.
"handle in-stream video metadata?"
To do what? HTML5 browsers have in-built players that read the meta data.
"Hardware 3D acceleration?"
"Real-Time text effects, e.g. glows, drop shadows etc."
Old news. CSS does these already. I've been using box and text shadows for a couple of years now.
"Easily fill a screen with content irrespective of its "design size""
But that's how HTML has always worked. It's only when someone starts specifying absolute widths that you run into problems. CSS has rules to cope with different screen sizes, aspect radios, portrait or landscape, units for setting text sizes, line heights or boxes based on the width or height of the viewport, and a whole lot more. And then there are browser features such as zooming and fit-to-width.
"Interface with external devices, e.g. webcam streams etc."
Yes? All covered by the HTML5 'devices' spec. You really do need to look into these things before preaching and LOLing from your porch rockingchair in Hicksville.
And just wait until you see what the <canvas> element does! You'll feel like a flat Earther being told the world is round!