Flash-Silverlight-AJAX and the Battle User Experience

I just left an all AJAX built web site and was absolutely stunned by the amount of motion and Flash like User Experience that was being generated with out Flash.  Which lead me to the brief thought “Is Flash Dead”.   Has the Flash Object embedded into an HTML page become obsolete?  When looking at AJAX web sites with full-text search engine support and cross-fading menus with dynamic sliding portfolios it really makes you think about all this time spent building Flash Applications.  But even if you wanted to use AJAX, what happends when you want video? What happends when you want “Real” animation like a bug flying around some text or FIRE… you’d be in the realm of Flash Development.  So what is AJAX good for if it can do some animation but not all, and what is the use of Flash if it can do all the animation but the text cannot be search?

I was talking to a friend about AJAX and CSS the other day and he showed me some java-script and CSS he was working on and it was doing some pretty incredible things on screen.  The coded pages without exaggeration were about 8 ft in length, at which point I asked him if all of that code was worth it, to achieve what would have taking a tenth of the time and pain in Flash?   We fought back and forth for a little bit, both arguing our points but when the conversation was over it really boiled down to the purpose of the web site.

What Are You Trying To Accomplish?

You would think this easy to answer but in most cases it’s not.  On a daily basis I hear “Let’s make a Glim-Glam Flash Micro Site” for this upcoming product launch.  Which is a great idea, but if the purpose of the Micro site is to capture Search Results in Google, then maybe the best development model is in fact best solved with AJAX. While on the flip side of the coin if the “Glim-Glam Micro Site” has a steady stream of already captured users then building in Flash site might be a better solution.

It’s an interesting situation Adobe has landed in.  In one corner they have Microsoft’s .Net platform which is giving rise to Silverlight which works in both online and off-line environments which competes with Adobe AIR/Flash Projector and in the other corner they have Open source AJAX wielding HTML content which competes with the traditional Flash Player.

So in which direction do they fight?  At the moment it looks like Adobe has bent towards the other assets they’ve aquired through-out the ages like Adobe Acrobat, Captivate and Presenter. Which folks if you have never seen these three application lately your in for a real treat they are unbelievably cool.

Demystifying Technology – Looking at Functionality on a Micro Level

(Blurb from a paper I’m writing) looking for feed back

In the very well advertised Apple commercials you see an allegorical satire of two guy’s who represent the two most widely used platforms in the world. “Hi I’m a Mac” “and I’m a PC” during these commercials the object is to justify reason for buying an Apple product.  What these commercials do very well besides being ridiculously funny, are that the commercials convey the modern computer user and the classical tinkering computer dork.  Modern computer users expect things to just-work out of the box, where in the not-long-ago distant past a computer needed tinkering hence the computer dork.

What the commercials don’t tell us is that both the Mac and PC platforms have, equally achieved it-just-works-out-of-the-box, but have taken two holistically different approaches in solving the dilemma. In the context of larger corporate infrastructures these solutions in both cases are very hard to see in action due to the highly complex environments of the corporate world.  Each corporation has different characteristics that have to be handled in different ways. Thus making how the solution is handled potentially infinite.  So the most important tool needed to, solve these problems and comprehend the solution is the ability to break apart the larger complex problems into smaller bite size parts that on a fundamental level are analogous across both Mac and PC platforms.

By looking at both approaches on a micro level we will eventually demystify how they work together or in the case of problems work against each other.

One of the easiest places to start while looking at the big picture on a Micro level is with a tool we use on a day-to-day basis.  Email has become such a ubiquitous mode of communication, that in most cases it’s used more than a phone because you can send attachments.  In this new digital age we’ve found ourselves digging through old Emails looking for that funny photo of our niece, that 2006 Tax pdf from Turbo tax, or that password from some random website that was sent as a confirmation email…  We can quickly see how on a corporate level the use of Email multiplied by even a small amount of Users could become a monstrous beast.

An attachment isn’t good to anyone if it resides in your email, likewise if you take that email and send it to someone else then they have an alternate copy of the document sent.

So you can see that it is not really the Email program that is the problem but the way that files are holistically managed, in the case of a File Server not being present or not performing efficiently enough people start to use their Email as a File Server.

Notice at this point we have not had to choose between a Mac or PC platform.

ASP.Net Compact Framework 3.5 and Flash building Mobile Applications

I started building mobile applications yesterday by embedding Flash 7 Active X controls in Windows Mobile compact framework 3.5.  The Solution was found during a perplexing week of trying to get C# compact framework and animating gifs to work.  Which is not possible in the current C# ASP.Net compact framework development model?  I’ve been building Flash applications for years now and after finding an Article about embedding Flash Active X controls inside windows forms, it was a perfect match. Here is the link.  If take the source files in this example and you couple them with the examples here you can do some pretty amazing things.  I have some examples of this method of building on Darkriderdesign in the Blog section.  Microsoft better come out with Silver light soon.