Jonathan Boutelle is the CTO of SlideShare, and is a principal at Uzanto Consulting. A software engineer by training, his interests lie at the intersection of technology, business, and user experience. Jonathan is particularly focused on technology that brings the web experience closer to the capabilities of the desktop.
In this conversation, Jonathan discusses SlideShare’s move from Flash to HTML5 for its presentations and how this move makes SlideShare content more accessible.
Geetesh: Moving your SlideShare content from Flash to HTML5 must have been a huge investment – what are the benefits that this move will provide to SlideShare users?
Jonathan: Yes, this was a huge effort. Most of engineering has been working on this for the last six months! We feel like it was well worth it though. There’s three main benefits to our users:
- Works on Mobile. The HTML format that we’ve developed works equally well on Smartphones, tablets, and desktop browsers. So your documents can be viewed by a much wider audience now.
- Speed. The HTML 5 documents load 30% faster and use 40% less bandwidth than the Flash documents they are replacing.
- Semantic. The documents are “just HTML”. They are text, so they can be read by Google and other search engines. So publishers should expect more search engine traffic as a result of this move.
Geetesh: Will the HTML5 format allow more faithful reproduction of PowerPoint abilities like transitions and graphic elements – also what does this mean for iPad (and other iOS) users?
Jonathan: Compatibility with the iPad and iPhone was one of the main reasons we did this move. Those devices don’t support Flash, and they are growing increasingly popular with both business and consumers. In particular, the iPad is a fantastic device for presentations … for personal browsing or for presenting to one or two other people, the iPad feels more natural than a laptop computer. Our mobile web app supports navigating by swiping the screen, so it feels very much like a native app, even though it’s a web app.
No changes on animations and transitions as a result of this move. Here’s our thinking behind that. Some authors love animations and transitions. But we’ve found that viewers generally prefer to be able to quickly navigate through the content.