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View Poll Results: Do you agree with the hybrid solution?

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  1. #1
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    Flash vs HTML? A Dilemma, my solution, your opinions?

    Right, here goes...

    A friend of mine who works as a professional photographer needs a website done. He says that he would like to use the website as a gallery/showcase of his work, and wants it to have the full bells and whistles - fade effects, slide in/outs, etc. the works.

    Now, this same friend also holds photography seminars: and would like to show transcripts, tutorials, and previews on the website - basically a good amount of textual content. He said it won't be often, but if he does add, it would be at least a page long, with at least 4-5 photos.

    Both of the aspects of the site (gallery and tutorials), are equally important.

    He also wants to rank well in search engines, especially for local results. This isn't of critical importance though, as most people search for him by name (and he isn't exactly called "Joe Smith" either).

    He says he hates sites that load images slowly. His images are his business, so they need to load quickly too. At the same time, he makes good money from his seminars, so he wants the tutorials to be readable "not like noise" to quote him.

    I ask him if he would like to do two separate sites: One gallery, one blog-style (for his tutorials). He says no, he wants them both on the same site, because he hates it when sites open new windows.

    We end the meeting and say cheerio. Now here's my dilemma...

    The bells and whistles can be done via JS/AJAX, but the image loading would be pitiful. Using Flash would eliminate the loading lag, and keep the bells and whistles, but adds a layer of proprietary tech - people with no flash will not see the site.

    A full hybrid (Flash site or HTML: user makes the choice, a la BMW's global site) is not on the cards, because the budget will not allow for additional CSS/JS work along with a Flash version.

    My Solution...

    My idea would be to follow the route Kontain did: Flash layer, HTML underneath. Flash text can be copied/resized, and the content will have an HTML equivalent underneath, so it solves the SEO/tutorials/accessibility issue, but for people with no flash installed, all they will see is basically the equivalent of an RSS feed.

    Thoughts?

    ( I found this an interesting dilemma - when doesn't HTML belong, and Flash does? This seems like a perfect case study.)

  2. #2
    SitePoint Member Thiago_CP's Avatar
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    There's no need to use Flash for that.

    Have you looked into Jquery/JqueryUI? If not then take a look at it.

    And image loading doesn't need to be a chore.

    Your photographer friend can easily use ImageMagick (or indeed any other tool capable of batch image converting) to optimize images for the Web.
    If you liked what I've said here, check my blog to read more!

  3. #3
    SitePoint Guru SharifTK's Avatar
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    You know a few years ago, as CSS layouts became standard and better in terms of SEO - I've began to despise Flash - a technology I loved and admired since I began as a noob designer.

    Now, almost a decade later - I wouldn't pitch it to any potential client, especially those who are creating their first website. As Thiago_CP states, there are plenty of scripted solutions now to bring interactivity to any website and maintain better compatibility system wide.

    Althought I've heard of search engines being able to index Flash content, I've never looked into that myself but I'm sure in terms of SEO its also a lot easier to maintain a non-flash website.
    SK

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thiago_CP View Post
    There's no need to use Flash for that.

    Have you looked into Jquery/JqueryUI? If not then take a look at it.

    And image loading doesn't need to be a chore.

    Your photographer friend can easily use ImageMagick (or indeed any other tool capable of batch image converting) to optimize images for the Web.
    Believe me, I'm VERY familiar with jQuery (I used it to write my own effects), and I know it's limitations.

    HTML is very poor when it comes to transitions, even with jQuery or any other form of JS, ESPECIALLY when the element is a 100kb+ image.

    On a related note, look what I found (A Flash-skinned wordpress blog):

    http://timwilson.net.au/lab/flashWor...plate/example/

    SEO and updatable Flash in one. I've stumbled across another similar website which actually resizes the Flash (text, images, et al) when you resize the browser (ctrl+).

    Seems like the lack of attention Flash is getting is preventing people from finding about what it can do now.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Member Thiago_CP's Avatar
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    The Adobe Flash Plugin (Version 10) is Required to view this Website
    The Flash Plugin gives additional functionality to your Web Browser.
    It is free, safe and easy to install.

    -Get it here: link_removed
    Great website XLCowBoy!

    Now, about the real web:

    HTML is very poor when it comes to transitions, even with jQuery or any other form of JS, ESPECIALLY when the element is a 100kb+ image.
    Answer:

    Your photographer friend can easily use ImageMagick (or indeed any other tool capable of batch image converting) to optimize images for the Web.
    If you liked what I've said here, check my blog to read more!

  6. #6
    SitePoint Guru ripcurlksm's Avatar
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    +1 for jQuery or another javascript library. There is no reason to use Flash except very limited uses, primarily video or audio-- even then there are better alternatives usually.

    Use jQuery! Use jQuery!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thiago_CP View Post
    Great website XLCowBoy!
    I pray that wasn't an attempt at sarcasm. Try visiting the site and reading what the author had put together. It's quite clever.

    Now, about the real web:
    Flash is part of the real web. Don't be an elitist. Without Flash you wouldn't have sites like YouTube or ecodazoo.

    Image optimizing for the web does not remove HTML's limitations when it comes to processing media. HTML is runtime tech, your browser (and your computer) run the processes as you view them. Flash compiles (and compresses) the media files, making them smaller, and the proprietary tech handles a good amount of the slack, which explains why it is used for animations, 3D, and videos and audio.

    You can try it out for yourself if you don't believe me. Create a set of 10 images that are crisp enough to fill out at least an entire 1024x768 screen.

    Now create a looping fade in/fade out slideshow with html, css, and jQuery. Create some other site pages as well.

    Now see how fast/slow it loads, how many slides are skipped the first time it loops, and how "smooth" the loop is when you have 8-10 tabs open, which is pretty much the casual browsing average. (Heck, have JS preload the images into cache if you want).

    Now jump around the site, load different bits, and then go to the area where the slide show was.

    If you attempted the same thing in Flash, you wouldn't have secondary buffering issues, missed slides, or jumpy animations.

    Don't get me wrong, I love HTML,CSS, and JS, but writing off Flash and saying it isn't part of the "real" web smacks of elitism and being narrow-minded.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Member Thiago_CP's Avatar
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    No! I was being sincere! It is a great website! (For a site whose purpose is to promote the use of Flash, that is)

    Now, about why the real web is real and why I'm not an elitist:

    What is it
    It extracts Post and Page data directly from the Wordpress database and renders it in an Flash movie.
    Note he saying an Flash movie, not a Flash website or perhaps a Flash page element.

    Because that's all Flash can really be without getting in the way. That's why it is ok for it to be used in YouTube. The other options which are available to the masses (Streaming Windows Media, or Quicktime) aren't as pervasive as Flash.

    Notice, however, that in YouTube Flash is used solely for video content, that ought to tell you something about what Flash is and what it isn't.

    Ecodazoo? Seriously? Have you tried explaining to a blind 6 years old why she can't know the Japanese eco-animals the other kids are talking about without another person reading aloud the sentences for her? That's not only elitist, it's mean and cruel with blind kids!

    Don't fool yourself. Flash's Virtual Machine approach brings a lot of extra overhead. Your Flash movie doesn't run directly on the host (the user PC), it runs on a VM and that negates any potential speed improvements by the reasons you've said. Nowadays Flash is like the gay cousin of Java, not quite as fat but certainly flashier.

    About the Flash-Free slideshow, google "Jquery Cycle Plugin". That and ImageMagick(or a similar tool) should do the trick!

    PS: realise we're trying to help you. This isn't a flame war, it's just an exchange of advices on what are the best practices on our area of expertise. Good luck with the photographer website and don't forget to post a link here when it's online!
    Last edited by Thiago_CP; Mar 20, 2009 at 08:26. Reason: missing word
    If you liked what I've said here, check my blog to read more!

  9. #9
    SitePoint Addict tuxus's Avatar
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    Jquery Cycle is great, another choice for a slideshow is jCarousel. All and all Thiago_CP hit the nail on the head. Flash is part of the "real web", just not the part you are trying to shoehorn it into. Sometimes their's just a right way to do things and a wrong way, an entire site in flash is the wrong way. It is odd that you talk about the client hating slow loading images, and than mention using flash for the entire site.....seems like a slower option to me.

    XLCowBoy I tried your example and it seems I'm scrolling through my slideshow with ease while flash is "loading".

  10. #10
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    @Thiago

    My apologies, the way your last comment came across like you were "schooling". I do appreciate the discussion.

    From what I briefly saw on ImageMagick, it wasn't any different from Photoshop's "save for web" feature. Am I missing something?

    @tuxus

    Have you tried uploading the sample? (because if it is just as fast, then bloody hell, maybe I need to get a new hosting company).

  11. #11
    SitePoint Addict tuxus's Avatar
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    Sure did, using cycle, I am using fx:"fade" as the effect with a speed and timeout set as well as google.load for the jquery lib, that may have some impact I am not sure.

    imagemagick does a great deal more than save for web, but I really only use it for liquid rescaling.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Member Thiago_CP's Avatar
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    @XLCowBoy

    Apologies accepted. Everyone knows that written text doesn't convey such subtleties of tone not even nearly as well as spoken text.

    And man, ImageMagick just won't fix you milk and cookies! The rest... it does. It pays well to study it's use.
    If you liked what I've said here, check my blog to read more!


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