Feeds

50 million user Scribd scraps Flash for HTML5

Doc sharer dubs plug-in 'incessantly bad experience'

Application security programs and practises

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. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?
Nokia and marketing types first to get the bullet, says report
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Big Blue Apple: IBM to sell iPads, iPhones to enterprises
iOS/2 gear loaded with apps for big biz ... uh oh BlackBerry
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.