For the last 10 years the web has reinvented itself. Moving from static HTML pages filled with information to interactive information portals, where massive amounts of people contribute to improve each other and spread knowledge.
The web was stale and static, presenting itself with only letters and inanimate images. This gave Adobe Flash and later Microsoft Silverlight; both are rich web application platforms for adding animation and interactivity to web pages, the ideal opportunity to take over and extend the development of the web design. Sites like YouTube pioneered and revolutionized videos on the web for example. Sites used these multimedia platforms to create better user experiences and they succeeded in doing so.
The reason on one hand for this development was mainly due to the lacking presence of e.g., video support or interactivity, from the current HTML or XHTML standard.
Now on the other hand a new HTML standard is coming into existence. The version number 5 of the HTML specification. It has been in development since mid 2004  and is in its final stages of development as of February 2010.
What makes this iteration of the HTML standard interesting is that it aims to reduce the need for plug-in-base web application platforms such as the ones mentioned above, Flash or Silverlight. To carry out this, HTML5 introduces a number of new APIs; graphical 2D API, timed media playback API, offline storage database API, document editing API and many more .
This raises the question: What does this mean for the big players, Flash and Silverlight, if their biggest power users e.g., YouTube, the indie gaming community, rich internet application developers, make the switch over to HTML5. This paper will try to answer this question, by highlighting and explaining how these new features of HTML5 stack up against the other established platforms, while also trying to shed some light on the future for these platforms, specifically whether they will coexist or whether one will prevail while the other cease to matter.
The paper is structured as follows. In the next section I give a brief introduction on both Flash and Silverlight, followed by a review of the new HTML5 standard. Thereafter I will single out some of the new features of HTML5 and compare these to existing Flash and Silverlight applications, weighing out pros and cons between the two sides. Finally, I will try to answer the question raised in the introduction and close with my conclusion.
For the remainder of the paper I will refer to Flash and Silverlight as a single entity, representing the Rich Internet Application platforms, unless noted otherwise.
Rich Web Application Platforms
Flash, the word is synonymous with animation on the internet. A man named Jonathan Gay had a dream of becoming an architect and his pursuit of this dream lead to the creation of Flash. He created this software to allow vector animations on the otherwise plain text-based...