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.

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