Pam Horan is the president of the Online Publishers Association, a not-for-profit trade organization that represents high-quality online publishers.

Last November, Adobe announced its decision to halt Flash development for mobile browsers, chipsets and operating systems.

Instead, the company plans to develop on the open HTML5 platform. While the announcement may seem startling given the legacy of Adobe’s business, the launch of Adobe Edge back in August marked the clear beginning of the company’s pivot toward HTML5.

Following the lead of many publishers in the space, most notably The Financial Times, the elimination of Flash will further enable publishers to focus their resources and streamline digital development.

In a company blog post, Adobe vice president and general manager Danny Winokur explained, “Adobe is all about enabling designers and developers to create the most expressive content possible, regardless of platform or technology,” he wrote. “HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively.”

So what does that mean for your business? Here are the five things every publisher should know about HTML5.

1. Enhanced Web Development

HTML5 has long been dubbed a game changer. Mashable has said that HTML5 will bring the web back. While that may sound like a strange notion, it refers to the fact that innovation has shifted from the web to applications for mobile and gaming – and while these may rely on the web, they do not reside there. HTML5 brings the focus back to web-based development.

According to the New York Times, “Engineers say the [HTML5] technology will make it possible to write web applications, accessed with a browser, that are as visually rich and lively as the so-called native applications that are now designed to run on a specific device, like an iPad or an Android-based tablet.”

2. Streamlined Development

The latest version of HTML includes features that streamline development and deliver a richer experience to users. And its new API, in concert with new browsers, enables top functionality, making things possible that weren’t before.

For instance, geolocation services are easily enhanced with HTML5. With permission, web browsers can access the physical location of users that visit their sites, simplifying the development of sites that want to deliver location-based content and services.

3. What it Means for Advertisers

While this may seem like a major tech play, HTML5 presents huge benefits for advertisers and marketers. It enhances online advertising by making ads rich and scalable. Advertisers have been waiting for technology to catch up with their mobile needs, and HTML5 does just that. It can be downloaded from an ad server and displayed on the web and in apps. And it makes rich media display ads more accessible across browsers and applications on mobile devices.

4. Video Challenges

It would be a disservice to ignore challenges that exist with HTML5. Flash has been around far longer than HTML5, and its advancements in video reflect its legacy. The third-party integration that made Flash popular and robust set the stage for online video to take off. And while HTML5 is still in its early innings, when it comes to video, the same innovations are starting to emerge within HTML5 as well.

5. Updates for Flash

While a Flash-free world may seem daunting to some, there’s no need to worry. According to Winokur, “We will of course continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates for existing device configurations. We will also allow our source code licensees to continue working on and release their own implementations.”

Overall, HTML5 will enhance the web for consumers, marketers and developers. Adobe has indicated that although its doesn’t plan to actively enhance Flash, it will continue to release security updates for its Android and BlackBerry PlayBook.

Image courtesy of Flickr, justinsomnia

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Adobe developer relations lead Mike Chambers has posted a lengthy explanation of why the company decided stop development of the mobile browser version of Flash.

The response comes as the health of the entire Flash ecosystem is in doubt. Adobe announced that Flash Player 11.1 would be the last version of Flash for mobile devices, though the company would continue to fix critical bugs. The company is also abandoning Flash on connected TVs.

“The decision to stop development of the Flash Player plugin for mobile browsers was part of a larger strategic shift at Adobe,” writes Chambers. “One which includes a greater shift in focus toward HTML5, as well as the Adobe Creative Cloud and the services that it provides.”

Chambers iterates five main reasons why Adobe decided that its resources were better spent elsewhere:

  1. Flash was never going to gain ubiquity on mobile devices, thanks to the fact that Apple resolutely refused to adopt the technology on the iPhone or iPad. “No matter what we did, the Flash Player was not going to be available on Apple’s iOS anytime in the foreseeable future,” he says.
  2. Meanwhile, HTML5 is ubiquitous. “On mobile devices, HTML5 provides a similar level of ubiquity that the Flash Player provides on the desktop,” Chambers says.
  3. Users don’t consume content on mobile in the same way they do on desktop. Differences in screen sizes, latency from wireless networks and the ubiquity of app stores made Flash less relevant on handheld devices.
  4. Developing browser plugins for mobile is much more challenging than the desktop. It requires more partnerships with OS developers, mobile hardware manufacturers and component manufacturers. “Developing the Flash Player for mobile browsers has proven to require much more resources than we anticipated,” Chambers admits.
  5. Adobe wanted to shift more resources to HTML5, and dropping Flash for mobile frees them to do so.

Chambers then goes into the difficult task of assuring developers that Flash itself is healthy. He explains that Adobe has made a “long term commitment to the Flash Player on desktops” and is focused on letting developers create mobile apps through the Adobe AIR platform.

It’s his thoughts on HTML5 vs. Flash that may be the most intriguing. Chambers admits in the final portion of his post that HTML5 will take over more and more of the functionality of Flash.

“If a Flash feature is successful, it will eventually be integrated into the browser, and developers and users will access it more and more via the browser and not Flash,” he states. And while HTML5 and CSS3 have a long way to go to match the ubiquity or functionality of the Flash Player, “the trend is very clear.”

“A lot of the things that you have done via Flash in the past,” he concludes “will increasingly be done via HTML5 and CSS3 directly in the browser.”

No matter how you sugarcoat this week’s episode of Flash theater, it’s clear that Apple has won the Flash argument and Adobe has lost it. This was clear to many of us in the tech industry early on, but the argument gained steam when Steve Jobs posted a lengthy open letter arguing that Flash was no longer necessary.

While Flash will be around for many years to come, it’s clear that even Adobe thinks HTML5 is the future. Flash’s days are numbered.

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Adobe confirmed what reports were saying all morning: It’s done with the Flash Mobile Player and has now thrown its lot in with the HTML5 crowd — for mobile at least.

“We will no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations (chipset, browser, OS version, etc.) following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook,” wrote Danny Winokur, Adobe VP and general manager for interactive development in a blog entry this morning.

The company that built Flash and famously fought with Apple CEO Steve Jobs on the necessity for its support on all mobile devices now contends that HTML5 is the right path for mobile devices and its developer partners. “HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively. This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms,” wrote Winokur.

Flash is not dead. Adobe knows there are millions of Flash developers out there right now who want to port their products to mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad — which famously do not support Flash. For them, Adobe will work with developers to package their products with Adobe Air, a runtime that lets them deploy standalone applications on a variety of platforms without the need for a Flash player.

Flash Player support for mobile browsers will end after version Flash Player 11.1 (which has yet to be released) and then Adobe will focus on bug and security updates for “existing device configurations.”

While Adobe is not walking away from Flash, the post makes it clear the future of the software is married to HTML5. The upcoming Flash Player 12 will offer new features “for a smooth transition to HTML5 as the standards evolve so developers can confidently invest knowing their skills will continue to be leveraged.”

The post then adds, “We are super excited about the next generations of HTML5 and Flash. Together they offer developers and content publishers great options for delivering compelling web and application experiences across PCs and devices.”

Over the last six months, Adobe has added more robust cross-platform mobile development features to Flash Professional and added native iOS streaming to Flash Media Server. This aligns with our past conversations with Adobe, which included a strong commitment to Flash as a development platform separate from a technology stack.

Overall, it’s a belated victory of sorts for the late Steve Jobs who railed against the use of what he saw as a buggy, security hole-ridden platform on mobile devices. What’s unclear, though, is what Flash’s exit from the mobile arena means for Flash’s long-term, overall survival.

What do you think? Is Adobe giving up too soon on the Flash Mobile Player, or has it made the right decision? Tell us in the comments.

More About: adobe, Adobe Air, apple, Flash, Mobile, smartphones, trending

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Adobe announced Wednesday the availability of Flash 11 as well as AIR 3 on a variety of platforms, including Android, iOS (via AIR), BlackBerry Tablet OS, Mac OS and Windows, for early October.

The big feature in the new version of Flash is the ability to run hardware-accelerated 3D graphics inside the player. Together with some improvements of Flash’s 2D capabilities, this should enable a 1,000 times faster rendering performance over Flash Player 10 and AIR 2. In layman’s terms, this means console-quality games on all platforms mentioned above.

AIR 3 brings support for native extensions, as well as captive runtime, meaning the developers can automatically pack AIR 3 with their apps which will simplify the installation process.

Other new features of note are rental and subscription options for content publishers, content protection across all supported platforms (including mobile platforms) and HD video quality across platforms.

Check out a preview of the new features in Flash 11 as well as Air 3 in the video below.

More About: adobe, Adobe Air 3, Adobe Flash 11, air, Air 3, Flash, Flash 11

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Windows 8 will have two versions of Internet Explorer 10 — a desktop version and the Metro version, which is optimized for tablets.

Part of that optimization will be a plugin free experience, meaning Metro IE10 will be primarily HTML5 and will not support browser plugins, including Flash.

“The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 web,” writes Dean Hachamovitch, head of the Internet Explorer team, on Microsoft’s official blog.

Microsoft’s reasoning is eerily similar to Steve Jobs’s legendary open letter on Flash from April 2010 in which he wrote, “The mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards — all areas where Flash falls short.”

Hachamovitch goes on to explain how today’s web is largely HTML5-based and designed for a plugin-free experience. Microsoft recently examined 97,000 web sites, and discovered that 62% of them use Flash, but many of those need it only to display ads. Furthermore, a large number of Flash-using sites fall back to HTML5 if the user’s browser doesn’t support it.

Although the desktop version of IE10 will continue to support all plugins and extensions, this is another defeat for Adobe, whose Flash is slowly losing relevance as the web expands to smartphones and tablets. Interestingly, Silverlight isn’t mentioned in Microsoft’s posts about the plugin-free web.

More About: adobe, Flash, IE10, internet explorer, Internet Explorer 10, Metro, microsoft, Windows 8

Adobe released the public beta of its new website creation software, code-named Muse, on Monday.

Unlike Dreamweaver, Adobe’s flagship web development tool, Muse is for graphic designers who want to create elegant websites without having to code.

We’ve been playing with Muse for the past two weeks as part of the private beta, and we are impressed with the tool’s functionality and featureset. What differentiates Muse from some other code-free website creation tools is this: the user interface and the design paradigms mimic those from other Adobe Creative Suite applications, namely InDesign.

This was by design. Adobe says that the majority of users who identify themselves as graphic designers — i.e., not web developers or interaction designers — still primarily work with print. Muse is for these users.

A common scenario is that a graphic designer will create a website in Illustrator, Fireworks or Photoshop and then pass the flattened file off to web designers who will then do their best to code the comp.

With Muse, Adobe hopes to eliminate that coding step for users whose sites don’t need lots of dynamic content — and who want to lay out and generate the code for their site with one tool.

Check out this video to see Muse in action:

Small Footprint, Lots of Features

Perhaps the most surprising feature about Muse is that it is an Adobe Air application, rather than a full-blown native app. That means it works on Mac and PC.

I’m not particularly fond of Adobe Air on the Mac; it tends to have sub-optimal performance. But in Muse’s hands it is fast, efficient, and auto-saves frequently.

This is a public beta, so crashes will happen. When they do, you can just start the app again and resume without losing too much work.

Muse was built to take advantage of certain HTML5 and CSS3 properties and to generate semantically-correct code. We’ve heard all of that before, but in our tests, the code that Muse outputs is clean and readable.

You can add your own HTML snippets or dynamic content information to a Muse page, and the app also comes with a set of pre-defined widgets. These widgets are written in jQuery and can be modified like any other element. CSS3 transitions are also possible to create in Muse; the process is seamless.

You can preview a page locally using the built-in WebKit browser or by opening up a file in the default app on your Mac or PC. This is great for seeing exactly how something looks in a browser before publishing.

Why Not Use WordPress?

The main question that comes up with these types of tools is this: why not just use WordPress, or some similar content management system?

Adobe’s answer is another question: how many types of designers actually need a database system?

For brochure sites, landing pages and sites that don’t have frequently changing content, a database web system usually isn’t necessary. If you can embed JavaScript, RSS feeds and other information into a site itself, a designer might not even need to bother with the whole CMS process.

That said, Muse could easily be used to prototype content that would then be implemented into a system like WordPress. For instance, a page and section layout designed in Muse could become a new WordPress theme.

In fact, users of the private beta are already exploring these kinds of options, and Adobe is open to expanding on them.

Publishing, Pricing & Availability

Muse is available in public beta now, and Adobe has said the program will be free until its official release in early 2012. That gives designers a chance to offer their feedback.

Once Muse launches under its final name in early 2012, it will be available by subscription. This is the first Adobe product to have a subscription-only pricing scheme and it will be $15 per month with a one-year commitment or $20 per month on a month-to-month basis.

Users who want to publish their sites can choose to use Adobe Business Catalyst for their hosting needs and publish directly from Muse.

If you have hosting setup elsewhere, you can export the contents of your site as HTML and upload the corresponding files, images, HTML and CSS files to your web server.

A Muse Site

Adobe’s website for Muse was created using the app, which is an impressive example of dog-fooding. Just to get a sense of what the app could do, I put together this layout for one of my domains,, in about 20 minutes. Most of the time was spent aligning the social media icons and aligning that text within the confines of a JavaScript accordion.

This isn’t the most beautiful site in the world — however, for less than 20 minutes of work, it’s not a bad start.

What do you think of Adobe’s new website creation tool? Graphic designers, are you interested in an InDesign-approach to layout and semantically generated code? Let us know in the comments.

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Adobe released a public preview of Adobe Edge, its new web motion and interaction design tool, on Monday.

Edge enables users to create animated content using HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript — not Flash. It’s the first professional-grade HTML5 editing tool on the market and is currently available for free, as the company is looking for feedback from developers.

Interestingly enough, Adobe Edge shares the name with Adobe’s free newsletter, which is bound to create some confusion among users.

The product, which relies on strict HTML standards and does not incorporate Flash, is not meant to replace existing web design tools like Dreamweaver or Flash, but to coexist with them, enhancing Adobe’s position as a leader in the future of Web infrastructure, especially as HTML5 becomes increasingly important in the world of mobile.

When Mashable spoke with Paul Gubbay, Adobe’s VP of design and web engineering, last September, he made it clear that the company is interested in supporting both platforms. The following month, Adobe launched a Flash-to-HTML5 converter, a first step towards supporting HTML5.

Adobe is further backing up that position with the launch of Adobe Edge, and promises fast-paced updates to the software to keep up with frequent changes to HTML5 itself.

Adobe released the video preview embedded below last month. Take a look, download it, test it out and let us know what you think about it.

[via VentureBeat]

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Adobe has just broken the seal on Creative Suite 5.5, the latest installment of its design and development software.

Of course, the new release brings the usual round-up of improvements and tweaks, but the fireworks in CS5.5 lie in the suite’s new HTML5 and mobile app-specific capabilities.

CS5.5 is the highly anticipated follow-up to the company’s CS5, which was released in April 2010. CS5.5 includes updated version of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Flash Builder Premium, Flash Catalyst, Flash Professional, Dreamweaver, Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects.

The new software has been hyped for its HTML5 and Flash authoring features, its video production and editing innovations, and its digital publishing capabilities. Adobe is touting this version of Creative Suite as the best it’s yet delivered for cross-platform web, mobile and tablet design and development.

Adobe has for some time been focused on relevance in a rapidly evolving mobile-development market. It’s positioned AIR and Flash as ideal tools for mobile devs and designers. The company is particularly excited about the implications for tablet development using the Folio Producer toolset, stating that publishers such as Condé Nast and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia have used Creative Suite 5.5 to “create beautiful interactive publications on the latest tablet platforms.”

Designers and devs, you know the drill: Go download your free trial and let us know what you think of CS5.5.

Here’s Adobe’s whirlwind overview of CS5.5 if you need more convincing:

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Adobe has released a new, experimental Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool codenamed Wallaby.

Wallaby is an AIR app that lets devs and designers quickly and simply convert Flash Professional files to HTML5 — and when we say “simply and easily,” we mean it’s a matter of dragging and dropping. The company is specifically hoping this tool will make it easier for designers and developers to get their content onto iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad.

We saw a demo of Wallaby last fall; while some of the company’s CS5 software offered HTML5 plugins already, we said Wallaby was different because it supported elements and resources within animations, not just the animations themselves.

Wallaby is being released on Adobe Labs; Adobe is asking devs and designers to take it for a test drive, see how the HTML5 code looks, and give feedback accordingly.

Adobe has had an interesting time trying to articulate its position on Flash and HTML5 over the past year or so. To put it briefly, the company feels there’s still room in the current technological and creative spaces for Flash, but it doesn’t think that either Flash or HTML5 has to exist to the exclusion of the other. Therefore, as a company that, to a large extent, exists to serve the creative and development communities, it wants to create great tools for both the HTML5 and the Flash camps.

In a release, a company rep stated, “With more than 3 million Flash developers in the creative community, Adobe continues to look for new ways to help them build on their existing skills and to make their content available to the widest possible audiences. User response to the Wallaby technology preview will enable Adobe to better understand what types of innovations are needed in our long-term investments in both Flash and HTML5 technology.”

Check out last fall’s demo of the app, and in the comments section, let us know what you think of Wallaby so far. And if you do decide to download Wallaby yourself, let us know how it worked out for you.

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The Social Analyst is a column by Mashable Co-Editor Ben Parr, where he digs into social media trends and how they are affecting companies in the space.

Google is preparing for war with Apple and Microsoft over the future of web video, and the rest of will be caught in the crossfire.

Earlier this week, Google quietly announced that it would be phasing out Chrome support for H.264, the video codec and standard supported by Adobe Flash, Blu-ray, Internet Explorer, Safari and others. Instead, it will be supporting WebM and Ogg Theora, which are supported by Mozilla and Opera.

What Google hoped would be a small footnote turned into a tidal wave of criticism. Google was chastised for turning its back on “open innovation” by dropping a more widely used codec for a lesser-used one. Compounded by the fact that Google is a strong supporter of Adobe and Flash, and it’s easy to see why the firestorm started in the first place.

Why Is Google Against H.264?

After several days of being slammed in the media, Google finally responded and wrote the post it should have written in the first place.

First, Google’s Mike Jazayeri clarified that Google Chrome would only stop supporting H.264 in HTML5, not in Flash or other forms of media. Then he dove into the problem surrounding the HTML5 <video> tag:

“As it stands, the organizations involved in defining the HTML video standard are at an impasse. There is no agreement on which video codec should be the baseline standard. Firefox and Opera support the open WebM and Ogg Theora codecs and will not support H.264 due to its licensing requirements; Safari and IE9 support H.264. With this status quo, all publishers and developers using the <video> tag will be forced to support multiple formats.”

Google has come to the conclusion that there will never be agreement on H.264, since it is proprietary technology owned by MPEG LA, a firm that forms and licenses patent pools. Thus the search giant decided to draw a line in the sand and double down on the WebM. WebM, for those of you who may not remember, is the open codec/standard for web video created by Google.

Unlike H.264, WebM/VP8′s patents have been released royalty-free. Apple and Microsoft are part of H.264′s patent pool, as are companies like Sony, Sharp, Cisco, LG Electronics, Hp, Toshiba and Dolby. Absent from the list: Mozilla and Google.

The tech titan also addressed the criticism that it should have selected H.264 as its baseline codec because of its wider adoption:

“To use and distribute H.264, browser and OS vendors, hardware manufacturers, and publishers who charge for content must pay significant royalties—with no guarantee the fees won’t increase in the future. To companies like Google, the license fees may not be material, but to the next great video startup and those in emerging markets these fees stifle innovation.”

Google also argued in its response that a community development process is superior to one where multiple parties have incentives to collect patent royalties.

Neither Side Will Budge

While Google may not have intended to start a war, it has essentially drawn the battle lines and made it clear that there will be no compromise. On the one hand, you have Google, Opera, Mozilla and and its WebM allies, which include WinAmp, Skype, AMD, Broadcom, Qualcomm, Logitech and Nvidia. On the other hand, you have the participants of the H.264 patent pool. There isn’t a single company that is part of both WebM and H.264.

The final paragraph of Google’s response may be the most telling thing in this whole affair, though:

“Bottom line, we are at an impasse in the evolution of HTML video. Having no baseline codec in the HTML specification is far from ideal. This is why we’re joining others in the community to invest in WebM and encouraging every browser vendor to adopt it for the emerging HTML video platform (the WebM Project team will soon release plugins that enable WebM support in Safari and IE9 via the HTML standard <video> tag). Our choice was to make a decision today and invest in open technology to move the platform forward, or to accept the status quo of a fragmented platform where the pace of innovation may be clouded by the interests of those collecting royalties. Seen in this light, we are choosing to bet on the open web and are confident this decision will spur innovation that benefits users and the industry.”

Google says that it hopes that the other browsers will adopt WebM, but it’s clear they already know that won’t happen. Why else would Google build Safari and IE 9 plugins to add WebM support into those browsers?

The inability for both sides to compromise will almost certainly stifle the growth of innovation surrounding HTML5 video. Why would anybody invest time and money into a technology that will only work in some browsers, when Flash is guaranteed to work in all browsers (except Mobile Safari)?

Unless both sides find a way to compromise, the future of web video will continue to be in Adobe’s hands. We doubt either side is going to budge anytime soon. The citizens of the web will end up being the losers of this affair.

More About: chrome, Google, google chrome, h.264, HTML 5, HTML5, Opinion, trending, video, webm, youtube