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New Macromedia.com and Rich Internet Apps

If you haven't noticed Macromedia just launched a new version of their site that uses FlashMX through out.  I'm curious about what people think of the site and about Rich Internet Apps in general.

justAnotherCoder
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

My initial thoughts are that it's pretty, but ...

* Flash's antialiasing makes small fonts really hard to read, and you can't adjust it to suit your needs. Can you read what this page says? http://www.macromedia.com/cfusion/exchange/index.cfm?view=sn130#view=sn131&viewName=ColdFusion%20Extension&loc=en_us&extID=1002981&lc_id=81434 I have to strain to do so. This page http://www.macromedia.com/devnet/ is much more readable and is less indiscriminate about using Flash, and I can adjust the text size if needed.

* Too many of those damn "loading ..." messages. Go here: http://www.macromedia.com/cfusion/exchange/index.cfm?view=sn130 (the front page of the ColdFusion Exchange), and it takes almost 10 seconds to completely load (some of this is ameliorated by the fact it's loaded incrementally). The Joel on Software Forum page http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp took me about 1.5 seconds, by comparison. (I'm measuring from when I shift-reload to when the progress bar disappears.) And since it's Flash, the whole movie has to be reloaded every time you visit a page, even if there are shared elements. This isn't the case with images.

* Inconsistent UI: some arrows (triangles, more accurately) pop out a menu. Others are links.

I think rich internet apps have their place. But if you use them on a page that doesn't need it -- that's not only overkill, it causes more problems than it solves.

Also, I have the sound turned off on my work computer. That may also have affected my opinion.

Joe Grossberg
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Every silver lining has a cloud.

Yesterday, Macromedia released a critical update for Flash.

http://www.computerworld.com/securitytopics/security/story/0,10801,79003,00.html

Go Linux Go!
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

First thoughts:

You need latest flash, You need to upgrade yada yada... I was told by the site when I got there.

Ok then...

The widgets! In my book has always been a problem with flash apps.  Flash not only allows, but encourages the use of non-standard widgets. I took me about 30 seconds to figure out the menu-arrow at the top left. Looks like a "Close Window" icon to me.

The sound-thingy, OK, its cool, but totally not intuitive.

The bottom area of the splash-picture contains hidden navigation. The comboboxes looks non-standard. Stop.

Im for rich web-distributed applications, but I think in order for people to be able to use it on a daily basis, we need to stop using Flash. (or maybe use Flash entirely different).  I think the secret to why so many users can use Windows is the widgets looks familiar.

Lets for the sake of the argument assume one thing, we have a user, Lisa. She works at a big company that decided (out of her control ofcourse) that  they will make her use this new flashy system on the web. She couldnt care less if its web based or not, she wants to enter her stuff and go home. (This is the most common user I take it).

My wet dream would be enhanced functionality in the browsers; so that you programatically hide the standard menu, toolbar and adress field. This will probably be abused, more on that later.

Then have functionality to create your own menu, for navigation in your web application, that the browser would place where the standard menu used to be. Same with toolbars. Difference here is that each menu item would have a <a href> tag to it, so it would actually navigate the web application. Same with toolbars. Each toolbutton would have an <a href> to it.

This would give a platform-native look and feel to the navigation of web applications, on Windows it would look like Windows, Mac users wouldnt be lost and all that.

Consistent navigation with HTML or whatever generated content I think is the key to be able to get my Lisa user happy - she doesnt care, and doesnt want to care about learning a new navigation every time.

This altering of the OS native menu/toolbar in the browser should ofcourse be limited to trusted sites. It would work within an intranet or similar, to avoid abuse and total chaos.

Is this stupidity on my part? Feel free to share :)

Patrik
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

I believe Flash has it's uses, one of them isn't replacing markup.

"Please Use a Supported Browser Your browser (Opera) is not supported by macromedia.com. For the best possible experience, please use the latest version of one of the following browsers:"

I don't care about "the best possible experience", I care about getting the info I need as quickly as possible, with a minimum of bullshit.  Flash just makes things harder.

insert name here
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

"Rich Internet Apps" are ok for Intranet type applications, but they cause all sorts of problems when let loose on the general Internet, IMO.

Among other things they make it virtually impossible for a site to be externally indexed in a meaningful way by Google, etc.

George McBay
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

I totally agree with the premise that Flash should not be used to replace markup.

You know, I _used_ to think that it would be a great idea to use Flash for an entire website. After all, you only need to write the code once and it looks the same everywhere. That supports it, that is.

Unfortunately, the Flash features overpower the sites' message/information and now you get all this cheesy 'text in motion' to distract you from getting the information you want.

Sure, some sites like http://www.2advanced.com/ look real nice but they tend not to have a whole lot of real info on them.

Compare to http://www.apple.com/ with its HTML minimalism approach and it's much easy to navigate and find what you're looking for.

UI Designer
Thursday, March 06, 2003

Apple's website uses lots of images and fixed size text which means that it has poor accessibility.

John Topley
Thursday, March 06, 2003

I like rich client apps but I don't like Flash MX or any other proprietary product.

xul meets my rich client needs for now. and it's free as in source and beer. and zope handles the back end just fine thank you. ymmv.

fool for python
Thursday, March 06, 2003

Re Apple site:

Some of the pages use fixed font and some do not - anyone know why or is it a browser thing???

SP
Thursday, March 06, 2003

Macromedia Flash can do just about anything.  The danger is that people do such non-standard, poor GUI design or other annoying things just because they can. 

However, Flash can do so many things that it isn't fair to make a blanket statement that it should not be used.

-I've used Flash as a simulation tool to show in a simple way complex mechanical interactions.

-It is fairly easy to build navigation into websites (just make sure the navigation makes use of a good, familiar GUI).

-It is the easiest way to include synchonized audio and graphics.

-It is also easy and foolproof to build pages that load consistently across multiple user's.

-You can make some interesting and fun websites like
http://www.chipotle.com/ for example.

If you use the default publishing mode in Flash, indexing will work fine.  Also, it helps load times and indexing significantly to break up a Flash site into separate pages.

Flash is such a powerful tool, and not hard to learn to use, that I would hate for people to not use it just because other people build poor websites with it.

Burney
Thursday, March 06, 2003


I think Flash is great, but I don't think Flash is HTML. Flash should be used for its dynamic graphics capabilities, not for text. HTML + Flash can be great.

btw, that Chipolte.com site is very difficult to navigate. You are presented with, basically, a blank screen. You have to use mouse-overs to see each individual menu item.

runtime
Thursday, March 06, 2003

Flash: ...can't use keyboard up/down/PgUp/PgDown to scroll text boxes... nor mouse scroll wheel... brilliant!

Duncan Smart
Thursday, March 06, 2003

"keyboard up/down/PgUp/PgDown to scroll text boxes and scroll whell"

xul does that.

fool for python
Thursday, March 06, 2003

Do you want a medal? ;-)

Duncan Smart
Sunday, March 09, 2003


As long as I can't keep flash from allowing popups (ads in specific), I won't install it on my machine. The first time I saw that I was so mad I actually bothered to submit a bug report. Now, if I come across a site that requires flash I don't even bother trying to view it. I'll just go somewhere else. If their site is designed well, there will be an option for non flash users.

John
Sunday, March 09, 2003

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