Slideshare goes HTML5, and the push for simplicity

An announcement from Slideshare:

As part of our transition to HTML5, we are pleased to let you know that embedded presentations are now Flash-free. We have also made several other improvements to our embed code:

  • Embedded presentations can be viewed on iOS devices
  • New features in embedded presentations will be updated dynamically
  • The embed code is shorter and simpler
  • The embed has new Twitter and Facebook share buttons (we find that presentations with share buttons get shared 30% more)

Great to see Slideshare bringing their embed functionality up to date – I’ll be updating all my links over the coming weeks.

It is becoming a real rarity now to see social sites use Flash as anything else than a fallback mechanism, which I see as real progress.  It’s not just mobile access either, it is very apparent that browsers run more efficiently even with multiple HTML5-rich tabs open and desktops don’t get bogged down when streaming video is playing.

Its interesting that there are a series of posts doing the rounds this week referring to the ‘scandal’ that Apple might ditch the 30-pin dock connector on the next iPhone, yet this is clearly just the pace of progress.  Requirements change, technology is invented, at some stage hard decisions need to be made on what gets left out – that’s the price for targeting simplicity.  In the past 15 years we’ve seen the death of the parallel/serial/keyboard/mouse ports on PCs (all because of USB, first popular on the iMac G3), the fading of the VGA port (dropped for DVI, then Mini Displayport then Thunderbolt on successive generations of Macs, though admittedly still used on many PCs), and now the fading of the optical drive (discarded on the Macbook Air).  Each time a technology has been discarded it has seemed a shock or a reach too far, and yet on every occasion it has turned out to be the best decision for both the vendor and the users alike.  In the same way it has become clear that Apple made the right decision not supporting Flash on iOS back in 2007 – user experience on the web has improved substantially as a result.

Steve Jobs regularly talked about how hard ‘simple’ is to achieve, and how really hard decisions need to be made to get there.  It seems that this is seen as ‘anti-enterprise’ in some places, that organisations must be able to expect that features they hard at version 1 will still be supported at version 5 ten years later, whether they were positive features that are still relevant or not.  Backward compatibility is important yes, but I would argue that defending the retention of all previous features or functions stifles innovation, destroys user experience and results in poor productivity and business value.  I would love to see more ‘enterprise’ vendors be willing to throw off the shackles, drop some older out-of-place features and target simplicity as their number one aims.

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!