Whenever I’m talking or writing about Ajax I’m at pains to point out one of the biggest issues that I see with a lot of big Ajax apps out there. The problem in a lot of cases is that they are even using Ajax at all.
Let me explain…
There’s another technology out there with wider penetration and better cross-browser implementation: Flash.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m talking specifically about situations where you are going to have a technological barrier to entry in any case. I’m just suggesting that Flash is a lower barrier than Ajax.
He’s come to the same conclusion:
So yeah, I’ll be looking in to Flash and Flex then.
Of course there are other issues with Flash: it’s a binary format and it’s in the hands of Adobe. Personally, I’m hopeful that the format might be set free soon.
But the biggest issue with Flash lies in the minds of developers. For many people (and I was amongst them), the perception of the platform was formed a few years back and remains frozen ever since. A comment on Dan’s post illustrates this disconnect:
With Flash, you’re fundamentally excluding a huge chunk of your customer base… Clueless user with a new computer? No Flash… Google also won’t index your content if it’s all hidden in Flash… You’ve also got the whole issue of disabled people… AJAX, for all its flaws, works in any browser, for any customer.
All of these anti-Flash points might once have been true, but they’re very outdated now. The accessibility argument is especially galling. Recent versions of Flash allow for far more accessibility hooks than is currently possible with Ajax.
It’s only natural that some technologies are going to be used more than others because more developers are comfortable with them. However, the decision of which solution to apply shouldn’t be down to just the comfort level of the programmers: we should be using the best tool for the job. But when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
So if you’re planning to make a bells’n’whistles web app that cannot be made to degrade gracefully, think for a minute before you automatically reach for Ajax. Take a look at Flash and Flex first. Then decide what’s best for the end user.
Posted by Jeremy on Monday, March 26th, 2007 at 12:53pm