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Flash Is Gone – So What Are Your Options for Interactive Web Applications?

The demand for interactive web applications is growing continuously owing to their substantial business impact. Feature-rich UIs and rich internet applications are a norm today – and the one technology favored by most to make this possible was Flash. However, with Flash being flawed security wise, its incompatible relationship with search engines and its resource hogging nature, it was only a matter of time that this technology was replaced by something that is not prone to exploitation and did not drain out the smartphone battery in a flash (pun intended).

Adobe recently announced the end of life plan for Flash. Even though this will come into absolute effect only in 2020, it is time to look at smarter alternatives to build interactive web applications. Here’s a look at a few great options.

HTML5

HTML5 is emerging as the revolution the internet needed and has been getting industry support through widespread adoption. While to some it might seem like a mysterious creature, HTML5 is easy to understand and makes creating accessible sites far easier because of semantics and ARIA (a W3C spec used to assign specific “roles” to elements in an HTML document). HTML5 also provides great audio and video support and eliminates the nightmare of ensuring that media elements are playing correctly for developers. HTML5 allows developers to write clear and descriptive codes easily. The semantic code helps in separating the meaning from content and style. With HTML5, the end users don’t need to download plugins to view media elements. The foundation of HTML5 web applications is semantically accurate. This means that codes are standardized and readable and hence, great for search engine bots – this helps these applications get better search engine ranking. Finally, HTML5 can be accessed from any device and the audio and video files are less taxing on the mobile device batteries.

CSS3

CSS3 (Cascading Style Sheets) is an independent language that is compatible with all browsers and deals with the look and style of the content of the web application that is written in the markup language. It is also platform-independent and provides components that help designers create design elements very easily. CSS3 is made up of small modules such as Selectors, Box Model, 2D/3D Transformations, Backgrounds, Color Box, Text Effects etc. thereby making applications using this technology easier to use and simpler to develop and hence, facilitates speedy development. CSS3 allows ease of coding and provides designers the options to create beautiful, feature-rich and aesthetically appealing web applications. It also allows easy image integrations including 2D and 3D images, allows easy inclusion of videos and animations and makes it simpler to modify and customize images – this makes handling of graphics and photos easier and more efficient. CSS3 users can avoid the use of complex code as it does not demand scripting and also makes the testing of individual components easier. Being semantically accurate also gives CSS3 web applications get better search engine rankings.

Adobe Animate

Touted as the replacement of Adobe Flash, Adobe Animate is a powerful tool that helps in creating interactive elements for web applications. Since it generates code employing HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS together, it is great for developers who are not too conversant with coding and would like to enhance animations. Previewing animations is also easier in Adobe Animate owing to the stage, the place where most of the design work is done. However, it is not possible to preview actions such as clicks or loops from here. Using Animate, developers can create symbols that allow them to group elements and their associated actions for reuse in other projects. It helps in making great responsive web designs, allows developers to import fonts, provides an easy to use drawing menu, and provides a timeline where developers can create animated sequences with keyframes easily. Further, Animate is extremely customizable and even allows users to save these customized views for later use. It is simple to use and yet gives the freedom to create complex animations as well.

AJAX

AJAX, a language made up of Extensible Hypertext Mark-up Language (XHTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), is also a great alternative for building interactive web applications. It uses technologies such as Object Model (DOM) and Extensible Mark-up Language (XML), which help in building web applications that meet the demands of today. AJAX simplifies software distribution, reduces bandwidth and processing demands on the server, has a well-designed asynchronous code, and provides the option of increasing security by encrypting data on the client side before it travels across the network. The use of JavaScript in AJAX increases its flexibility and allows designers to control any aspect of any image or type on a web page. They can easily change font sizes, tables, colors, and easily add interactive media elements – something for which they had to use Flash earlier.

AngularJS

This self-proclaimed “superheroic JavaScript framework” has gained tremendous popularity over the past few years. Coming from the house of Google, this framework offers rapid development by automating repetitive tasks and frees up the developers’ time for more complex tasks. Through template saving in the cache, it cuts the server load time and provides faster page loading. With loads of UI components and service integration libraries, it helps in getting started quickly.

TypeScript

This free open source programming language is developed and maintained by Microsoft. It is a superscript of JavaScript and is designed for use in the development of large-scale web applications. It allows the creation of purely object-oriented code and can be used for both client-side as well as server-side programming. Classes, interfaces, DOM manipulation, clear API definition, built-in support for JavaScript packaging, syntax similarity to other popular languages such as Java and Scala, and Generics are some of the key features of TypeScript which make it popular amongst the developers.

Flash was a valuable tool for web application developers for a long time…and now it is time for some change. There are quite a few options to choose from and looking at how feature rich, how easy to use, and how comprehensive the technology is a good starting point for making this decision.

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