Software Review: That’s right ladies… It’s HTML5

This week I thought I’d take a break from my usual, opinionated PR-based drivel, and instead write some opinionated review-based drivel. As anyone who follows my twitter may have seen, over the last few days I’ve been playing around with a bit of HTML5 animation. In doing so I’ve had the opportunity to trial four of the latest bits of “Flash-esque” animation software: Adobe Edge, Tumult Hype, Hippo Animator and Sencha.

Having spent the last week of my life with more frames than a hall of mirrors (see what I did there), I thought I may as well put these poorly spent hours to some sort of productive use. As such I have compiled a review of each of these pieces of software for your enjoyment. …Don’t get too excited ladies.

Adobe Edge
Being the kings of creativity, and the originators of the one and only Flash it should figure that Adobe will be leading the way for truly innovative HTML5 animation. And to be honest, they haven’t disappointed.  Although… they haven’t exactly impressed

Adobe Edge Review

Adobe Edge uses a very similar layout and interface to its predecessor (if that is the correct term?) Flash. This is a nice bit of consideration for all the animators out there who are currently having a massive panic attack about the switchover from Flash to HTML5. It’s also quite nice for the people like me who just hate any form of change.

As well as the general look and feel being very similar to Flash, Edge also has the ability to create symbols, something that I’ve found lacking amongst the other animators. For those who don’t know, symbols are basically a way to create timelines within timelines… kind of like an animation version of inception; if Leonardo Dicaprio was a 39 year old coder who never got laid.

Despite this familiar layout, I wouldn’t exactly call Edge “intuitive”. Even as a Flash user I still found myself pounding through YouTube tutorials like shot glasses at a wedding. I was also disappointed to find a lack of support for embedded sound and videos.

Overall I’d say Adobe Edge will be the way forward for professional animators, but at the moment it still needs a lot of work. Currently Edge doesn’t have an exact price, but being a product of Adobe I imagine it will be in the region of ten billion zillion trillion pounds. (Only a rough estimate)

Hippo Animator
Unlike Adobe Edge, Hippo Animator actually has a bit of multimedia integration. It can embed audio clips, YouTube videos and simple player-controls. What it can’t do is create symbols or use any sort of detailed actions. In fact, the only way to generate any sort of user event is through the predetermined “buttons” function, which creates rather crude, Powerpoint style buttons.

On a more positive note, the usability of Hippo’s interface is easier than a college chick in a low-budget American sitcom. If anything though, it’s almost too simplistic, bordering on cartoonish.

HTML5 Animation Software Review

While some might argue that there’s no such thing as “too simple”, personally I think that people in the world of tech like things to look a bit complicated. They like people to glance at their screens and go “holy shit that looks difficult!”. With Hippo Animator everything just looks a bit too Fisher Price.

Tumult Hype
I went to download Tumult Hype after reading some good reviews and hearing some, well, hype. Unfortunately when I got to the download page it turns out the animator is exclusively available on Mac OS. As such I immediately couldn’t give a shit.

Hype - HTML5 Animator

…Next.

Sencha
Now this, blew me away. It’s got a very nice Flash-style interface (potentially worthy of Adobe themselves). It’s also got the ability to embed videos and some limited sounds.

Not only is it functional and easy to use, it also provides the ability to physically edit the resulting code and insert your own Javascript on top of the predetermined actions.

Sencha HTML5 Animator

Having developed my first Sencha animation with considerably ease, I opened it up in Firefox and…. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Apparently, Sencha relies solely on webkit browsers, such as the latest version of Safari and Google Chrome. Now, seeing as a key benefit of HTML5 is its seamless cross-browser compatibility, this makes Sencha about as much use as a play-doh butt plug.

Sencha conveniently gets around this lack of functionality by claiming that their product is “purely for mobile web development” in which webkit browsers are universally available. To me though, this is just a lack of functionality and laziness on the part of the designers. …Or maybe on the part of Firefox, I don’t care, I just know that I’m not happy about it.

So there you have it. Overall there are some groundbreaking programs out there for simplifying the complex task of animating in HTML5. Unfortunately, for the moment they’re all looking a bit too Beta for my liking. As such, for now at least, it looks like I’ll be sticking with Flash.

(If you’re looking for simpler alternatives to HTML5 animation, I’d recommend a Flash to HTML5 converter such as Google Swiffy, Adobe Wallaby or swf2html5)

Alex Warren
Alex Warren
Miserablist, whiskey-drinker, and general tinpot shambles. Alex Warren has a weary pessimism for all things media, politics and tech.