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Hype 1.0 ($30) arrived last week in Apple's Mac App Store, a debut prompted in part by the near-death experience of Adobe Flash last year.
Following Apple's public opposition to Flash in 2010 and its ongoing refusal to support Flash on iOS devices, Adobe has been forced to develop ways to convert Flash content to HTML5 or native iOS apps. The company has delivered applications to assist in this process, notably software called Wallaby.
But rivals have been developing similar Flash escape routes. A startup called Loqheart, for example, offers a tool called Spriteloq to make Flash content functional for mobile developers using Ansca Mobile's Corona SDK.
While conversion tools will likely find an audience among the large installed base of Flash developers and designers, content-creation tools present an alternative to converting legacy formats. Reality has finally caught up with the hype about HTML5, which companies like Google have been extolling for the past two years. Authoring HTML5 content is now a viable alternative to Flash, with a few lingering exceptions.
Adobe's Flash remains widespread on the Web and is still popular as a way to make rich media websites and online games. But there's some suggestion that the employment prospects of Flash developers may be on the decline. Freelancer.com reported earlier this month that job listings for Flash developers declined 27% from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011.
Enter Hype. It aspires to be a designer-friendly authoring tool for HTML5 interactive Web content. Apple already offers a similar tool, iAd Producer, but it's only available for the creation of advertisements that will run on Apple's iAd network. Tumult co-founder Ryan Nielsen said in an email that iAd Producer only supports iOS browsers.
Adobe offers Dreamweaver 5.5, which includes some HTML5 output capabilities. But it's a complicated program, it's more expensive ($399), and it's not available through Apple's Mac App Store, which provides easy software management capabilities.
"Hype is the best way to create animated and interactive HTML5 that can be run everywhere," Nielsen said.
He concedes that HTML5 isn't quite ready to overthrow Flash for gaming, because of incomplete standards for networking, 3-D graphics, and sound. He points to Rovio Mobile's HTML5 version of "Angry Birds," which he says falls back to Flash audio on many platforms.
The same can probably be said about Hype: It's not the answer for every Flash project. It's missing features that Flash developers may care about, such as MovieClips and vectors. But it's more than competitive in terms of ease of use and price. And future updates are likely to address shortcomings.
Nielsen believes HTML5's time is at hand. "All of these areas are under aggressive development, and I expect modern browsers will soon remedy these deficiencies," he said. "WebSockets and WebGL promise to dramatically improve HTML5’s networking and 3-D graphics support, and the HTML5 audio standards are being shored up as we speak."
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