The HMTL5 Runtime, Adobe Going HTML5

I’m fascinated by how expansive the phrase “HTML5” is in many people’s minds: many view it as an entire development stack, using it the same way one would say “Java” or “.Net.” Indeed, you could string together a whole JavaScript-based stack (kindasorta), and I think that’s where most of the HTML5-expansion comes in. Plus, everyone likes a Steve Jobs approved disruptor.

Adobe Goes Full(er) HTML5

Last night, the Tweeters were all alive with Adobe announcing that they were giving up on Flash for mobile (not the official wording, of course), and instead focusing on HTML5. Given their recent acquisition of Nitobi (creators of PhoneGap, which allows you to write mobile apps in HTML5), you can imagine the strategy unfolding: PhoneGap replaces Flash as Adobe’s mobile runtime. Given the difficulty of getting mobile developers interest in Flash and the phenomenal interest in PhoneGap, it’s hard to fault the idea.

This scenario seems great to me as I’ve always thought that Adobe is one of the better positioned application development toolchains out there…if they can just focus on HTML5 instead of Flash. The main thing I like to point out is that, chances are, PhotoShop was involved in any application you use. Not all, of course, but so much UI and UX work gets done with part of the Adobe toolchain. It’s a foot-in-the-door for the rest of the application development process.

There was a brief time, years ago, when Bruce Eckel brought the Adobe horse to the Java water, that passed into the RIA days, which are long over. Now, by embracing HTML5 (I hope, and it seems from recent moves), Adobe has a better shot at building that general, application developer business they’ve been lusting over for years. While talk of focusing more on “publishing” vs. “programming” slightly confused the point, the important thing to look at is the underlying technology and process supporting that publishing…namely HTML5-based programming, I’d suggest.

A history of commoditizing IT

Finally, I’ve been kicking a timeline like the following around in my head:

  • 1990s – Windows Client -> Web
  • 1990s-2000s – Windows Server/Unix -> Linux (though, forecasts still peg Windows way high)
  • 2000s – closed source middleware -> open source middleware
  • 2010s – VMware -> OpenStack cloud (leap-frogging OSS virtualization)
  • 2015+ – Flash, iOS, “native mobile” -> HTML5

The point is: if there’s commodification going on in your market, it’s better to be on the right side of the pointy stick.

This is what gets people all hot-n-bothered about HTML5. While it’s just the UI layer if you think of it as synonomous with “web app” (as I mostly do), once you attach a runtime/container like PhoneGap at the bottom, throw in several years of SDK work (ahoy, github projects!)…you might have yourself a proper application development stack that runs on any client. What’s different this time than the OSS days is monetizing with cloud services and actually running the application. A vendor doesn’t need to focus on actually selling the stack and tools, but could instead sell running the resulting apps. We’ll see.