TP1 music mix and the HTML5 audio player: Development and conclusions
NOTE: Last year, we gave ourselves the fun task of creating a 2011 poster calendar that could be gifted to guests at the 5th anniversary party of our web agency. Part print, part interactive, the poster features a QR code in the centre that enables you to access fresh digital content every month.
For our January project, we started with a simple idea: offer a music mix put together by resident music lover Patrick Williams to celebrate the New Year. After compiling free tracks available on the web, we decided to package them in a “conventional” Flash audio player. This was an easy and practical solution that would still enable us to continue working on the many other mandates we had on deck.
Except we tend not to like the idea of “easy” (and we’re not fond of “practical” either, to be honest).
To start with, we played around with the free jPlayer to become familiar with the workings of an HTML5-coded audio player before modifying it to our needs. This allowed us to test the potential of this technology, including streaming and how it’s supported on various browsers and mobile devices.
For me, the main advantage of HTML5 is that you don’t need an external plug-in for viewing. At a time when websites are increasingly viewed on mobiles, it doesn’t seem sensible to work with technology that won’t be compatible with an iPhone or Android phone. Especially since there aren’t many advantages to using Flash-coded players and when certain platforms don’t support them, there’s the fallback to a Flash file.
And let’s not forget that a native HTML reader uses far less resources than a player built with an external plug-in.
At this point, the only snag is that many browsers have yet to adopt HTML5 and CSS3. This may be the only advantage Flash has over HTML5. Although Safari, Chrome and Firefox have already cut a path, others are still holding out. Interestingly, the preliminary versions of HTML5 were drafted in 2004 (that’s almost seven years ago!) and it’s only recently that this language has started to be taken more seriously.
The difference: HTML5 is but a series of recommendations that is only adopted on personal preference. We may pick on Internet Explorer all the time, but it’s still the most popular browser on earth! In contrast, Flash is an external plug-in and tightly controlled by Adobe.
HTML5 certainly has a brighter future than Flash, but we’ll have to wait a while longer before a total transition to this new standard. In the meanwhile, although it’s a good idea to explore this new potential, we still need alternatives in the wings to preserve the user experience.
Have you experimented with HTML5? Then let me know what you’ve been working on.