As more AV manufacturers embrace the transition from proprietary programming languages and software development tools to open standards for control system solutions, there is a growing trend to adopt HTML5 for user interface design.
This move to HTML5 is not just another way to make the AV industry more appealing to outsiders or address the growing need for talent. Rather, there are very relevant and time sensitive impetuses that drive this significant shift.
Solutions with Adobe Flash Will No Longer be Supported
Many AV control systems rely on Adobe Flash to render user interface designs. These solutions, developed from manufacturers’ proprietary tools, must not only run on dedicated touchpanels, but require compatibility with modern web browsers for universal access and mobility. While the Flash solution provides consistency and rapid development, its viability will soon be diminished and an alternative approach will be required.
Effective December 31, 2020, Adobe will stop updating and distributing the Flash player and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to other formats like HTML5. In turn Google, Microsoft and Mozilla have announced that their browsers (Chrome, IE, and Firefox) will no longer support Flash at the end of 2020. As the Flash Player will not be maintained or updated with security fixes, the notion of using older browsers to extend the longevity of existing Flash applications will be a risky proposition. Adobe Flash Player has been a target and presented risks for security professionals for years with numerous critical vulnerabilities causing problems.
What is Flash?
Flash is a multimedia software platform used to produce animations, desktop applications, and mobile games and applications. Flash graphics and animations are viewed in a browser through use of Flash Player and AIR for viewing desktop and mobile apps. Adobe AIR technology enables developers to create and package cross platform applications for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac OS.
HTML5: A Flash Alternative
HTML5, the fifth and current version of the HTML standard, is a markup language used to structure and present webpages. It was developed to provide a greater Web experience for everyone. One of the notable benefits of HTML5 is that it’s mobile ready and responsive, meaning that content will automatically adjust on mobile devices and respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform, and orientation.
HTML5 actually refers to three kinds of code:
- HTML, which provides the structure
- Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which take care of presentation
HTML5 provides not only the alternative to a platform facing deprecation, it also provides the solution for the growing demand for mobile-friendly solutions in modern business.
With regard to the AV industry and control system solutions, the ability to provide a single, consistent solution for user interface design that is supported by a dedicated touchpanel, web browser, and mobile device requires a universal solution that HTML5 provides. The graphics and web experience that HTML5 delivers can provide a slick frontend and a modern look that AV systems need to be valued by users.
Additionally, the mobile friendliness of the user interface offers a BYOC (Bring Your Own Control) solution that is growing in favor along with touchless control as avenues for addressing the needs of the post-pandemic workplace.
While providing an HTML5 solution would be seemingly commonplace for a traditional website, there are requirements and limitations specific to developing an AV control system user interface. Additionally, like with developing websites, there is more than one route that can be taken to achieve a solution with pros and cons of each to be considered.
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