Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Discover MLS adds HTML5 version for mobile devices.

I’ve been writing about the Flash vs. HTML5 debate for awhile as it pertains to MLS systems and a post by Discover MLS caught my attention. Currently their is only one Flash based MLS system, Discover MLS. The big guys (LPS and Corelogic’s Marketlinx) have also bet on Flash for their next generation MLS systems, reinsight and Fusion respectively.

Last year Rapattoni made a decision to abandon plans to port their MLS to Microsoft’s Silverlight platform (Microsoft’s version of Flash). In a recent blog post Discover MLS’s Bret Wiener announced:

“We’re very anxious to watch the evolution of browser support for HTML5, and we’re equally anxious to watch the evolution of Flash support on mobile devices. As the future unfolds, Discover is committed to leveraging the relative strengths of both and offering the best applications we can, using the best technologies of the day.”

Bret makes it clear that they are not giving up on Flash and they still believe it is the best solution. He highlights issues with HTML5 but concedes that Apple’s iOS is something that is not going away and will probably not implement Flash anytime soon.

I would say that the question is not whether Apple will ever implement Flash but
whether Adobe will ever be able to deliver a Flash solution that works well on mobile devices and doesn’t drain your battery like a vacuum hose.

Only time will tell if LPS and CoreLogic will reach the same conclusion. ReInsight and Fusion were announced many many months ago. So far no signs of the what Bret touts as the “fast paced development” process of Flash based apps for either MLS system.

Meanwhile as LPS and CoreLogic spend hundred of thousands of dollars porting building a new MLS system in Flash and Discover works to perfect its HTML5 solution; companies like FBS are brewing up some really innovative stuff (WordPress plugin and an evolving API) and Rapattoni has shored up their MLS system to work on all browsers (including the iPad).

I wish good luck the guys at Discover MLS and look forward to seeing how this all shakes out.

  1. It’s agreed that reliance on proprietary solutions from Microsoft and Adobe or otherwise could cause trouble, so it’s good to see Discover MLS and Rapattoni recognizing this. I believe FlexMLS is already cross-browser compliant and soon will eliminate Flash altogether for it’s charts so it’s 100% ipad friendly as well. Tarasoft’s Matrix worked fine for me on all browsers as well. I haven’t seen Dyna Connections or others yet to compare but a lot of vendors have really stepped up to support agents on any platform.

    One thing to know is HTML5 is not a standard yet, so kind of like Web 2.0, it’s still a buzzword for now without clear definition. It’s currently in Working Draft status with the W3C. See: http://www.w3.org/standards/techs/html#w3c_all or http://dev.w3.org/html5/spec/Overview.html

    Any web-based software platforms that want cross-browser compliance should utilize frameworks like jQuery UI or similar which are global standards adopted by even Google, Facebook and other companies. This also allows them to support older versions. Until HTML5 is complete, there’s no guarantee the elements like etc will go unchanged so there is risk of breaking the apps as new browser versions come out with new versions of the standard.

  2. Flash doesn’t work very well on mobile devices, I agree. But it doesn’t drain the battery like you said, Greg, and I’m speaking from personal experience. Believe me, we’ve beaten it to death. Battery use is no different than other web browsing or running apps. Look & feel? Well… On the new Motorola XOOM (and other upcoming Android tabs), with lots of RAM and the new Honeycomb OS, I expected our app to look and feel just like it does on my pc. The experience on the XOOM is decent, but disappointing. So I also agree Adobe has a ways to go!

    With respect to the (perhaps not-so-fast pace of development) from our Flash-based competitors, I would argue that they had a lot of architectural work to do (always the most critical part of an application in the long run), and it takes time. Just try building a modern, rich UI, metadata-driven Listing Add/Edit module and you’ll get a taste. They will get there, though, and if they do a good job, it will run well across all platforms — that’s the beauty of Flash. I suspect their budgets are measured in millions, not just hundreds of thousands, because that’s what it takes to build a great MLS app today. Even with all the money in the world, though, it takes the right people at the helm…there are plenty of ways to cock up a service-oriented architecture, which will make any UI look & feel terrible.

    I totally agree about using jQuery. jQuery is a lot like Flash…a platform that takes the pain out of developing nice UI’s for a wide variety of browsers. But the new jQuery Mobile is already HTML5! http://www.jquerymobile.com

    It’s great to see innovation in the industry, that’s for sure, and I’m happy that platform-independence (esp. in the rapidly-evolving mobile world) is getting this much attention!

  3. Brett,

    We use jQuery Mobile for some things at Goomzee but it’s still an early Alpha release so be weary about betting the farm on it. Ryland Homes has a nice mobile app using it however so that’s a good reference app. Many things our engineers have had to fix for some phones, etc. It’s be best thing going forth though so good pick if people are making the choice from greenfield.

    jQTouch is another good one but a little more bloated and not as phone-agnostic.


  4. @Bret To be clear I’m mostly basing my battery experience on my own notebook, not a mobile device. But there are tons of reviews siting poor battery performance on mobile devices running Flash, just not sure if they experience the same issues running other types of web apps. So you make a good point.

    From the standpoint of innovation I think you guys are doing a helluva a job. And I believe you are exactly right about, good development takes time. I know that LPS is really trying to make sure their first release of reinsight really nails it. So they are taking care on getting it right the first time.

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