Monday, August 04, 2003

ongoing · Unflash

ongoing · Unflash "At Antarctica, for version 3.0 of Visual Net, we added a Flash-based user interface to our traditional HTML flavor. For 4.0, which ships sometime before end-of-year, we’ll be backing it out and sticking to dynamic HTML. It’s the right thing to do, but the choice wasn’t a slam-dunk.
A few months back, for good reasons, we had finally decided to give up on supporting the pre-V5 browsers. In parallel, I (partly because of ongoing) had started to become aware how much you could do with DHTML, and how sophisticated you could get, and how portable it could be. I became convinced that it could give us a high proportion of that Flash eye-candy.
(Just to be clear: When I say “Dynamic HTML” I mean sophisticated modern HTML combined with a lot of Javascript and (especially) CSS; you can do an amazing variety of things very cleanly just by twiddling class= attribute values.)
And in fact, our latest trial deployments (not quite based on the released code-base) look remarkably good, if I say so myself. The only things that I really miss from the Flash versions are the animations and the nice partial-transparency tricks (which you could do if IE supported PNG properly).
I’ll admit to having hated Javascript based on the “View Source” effect. For some reason, most JS code out there in production is hideously ugly and egregiously unreadable, I had concluded that that’s just the way it was. If you keep your JS in a separate file so it only downloads when changed, there’s no reason to compactify it, and it ends up substantially more readable than some other scripting languages I could name. There’s some weirdness all right, but as trade-offs go it’s not a bad one.
Now, if the browsers supported SVG..."
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