Semantic Flash: Slippery When Wet

by Dan Mall

64 Reader Comments

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  1. One more example. When planning my portfolio site “tarpanova.com (www.tarpanova.com)”:http://www.tarpanova.com , I wanted a synergy between the lightness and usability of web standards and the powerful media display of flash. I am using JavaScript, xml, dynamic flash, and php for the seamless display of all information into one page. It works for several reasons:

    • Portfolio content for both the site’s flash and its accessible no-flash version is updated very easy with php-script xml edits.
    • Images are read, resized, thumbnailed, and added directly from an ftp directory with a php/xml script.

    • Search engines read the content of the entire site into one page, with higher performance in pertinent searches, more than if it was split in several pages.

    • Loading time is much faster since everything is a single page and users browse other sections while the heavier, flash part, loading simultaneously is loaded and ready by the time the visitor gets to that section.

    There are many ways to combine these technologies, and incorporating semantic flash can add some fantastic benefits that cannot be refuted.

    P.S. AmfPHP is another tool that is now used to connect flash with php for CMS and application purporses.

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  • AJAX is the answers for developers who have no clue of how to interoperate with Flash.

    “locked away in an .swf file.” which world do you live?

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  • Well, let’s see what semmantic flash wants to acomplish:

    • In ausence of flash and javascript, static content
    • Standard compliant
    • Search engine friendly
    • Crossbrowser

    It’s this possible?

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  • “Yaoltzin Gómez”:#53: If I’m understanding your question correctly, there are many sites out there that can achieve the ability to integrate Flash into a standards site.The “web.burza”:http://web.burza.hr/ site is one example of a site that contains all of the attributes you mentioned. Is that what you mean?

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  • I think “Brian”:http://alistapart.com/comments/semanticflash?page=5#45 sums up the point very nicely: swell example, but give us perfect and useful.

    Because I certainly can’t do it myself.

    And that’s ultimately what it comes down to, when you point out the chasm between web and Flash designers.  Many posters have raised the objection that Flash is convoluted.  Poor argument. Stick to the simple fact that it’s hard.

    It would take me at least 6 months to gain proficiency in Flash. And even with that commitment, I may never have the knack for animation or the artistic flare to excel at it.

    Also, it’s expensive. Five years ago, I bought Flash 4 to bulk up my resume. Two-hundred dollars of obsolete, sitting on my shelf.  That skill set is dead, unless I pay for an upgrade and hope that I learn faster than the next version can come out.

    Whereas, the HTML I’ve been using all these years is free to program, and as the “other article from this issue”:http://alistapart.com/articles/whereourstandardswentwrong proves, my crappy code from five years ago is just as relevant as my sleek code of today.

    Deceptively simple evangelizing of Flash obscures the fact that deceptively simple tools like “sIFR”:http://www.mikeindustries.com/sifr/ and “swfIR”:http://www.swfir.com/ took teams of skilled professionals to architect. So when I—the tech guy—want to tweak it, I end up just like “Tor”:http://alistapart.com/comments/semanticflash?page=5#41 is…

    Obviously thrilled with the concept, but reduced to screaming about two minor technical points that I can’t fix myself.

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  • Very true and thoughtful analysis of the current love/hate-Flash situation. Completely agree.

    The only point I would add is that Flash’s biggest problem is being a proprietary system. Any way you look at it – Adobe controls it. It is and will be hard a format maintained by just one company to truly become a standard.

    And then there is PDF, also from Adobe, that is somewhat of a standard. So – it’s not hopeless.

    It will be interesting to observe and see how things go. IMHO, current status-quo will be kept. Neither AJAX or Flash (with its Flex wing) be able to win over. Both will stay and people utilizing them smartly in proper cases, will win – just like this article says.

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  • We’ve been using Flash as an enhancer to websites for about a year now and are pretty darn happy with the results.  We start with a basic HTML/CSS site and then take blocks of the site and add in Flash elements that include varying levels of interaction.  For users without JS or Flash, they get the fully functional (and still good-looking site), but users with Flash and JS will get the added interaction available in the Flash pieces.

    Here are two sites that we’ve done this way:
    “Moose Racing”:http://www.mooseracing.com
    “Arctiva”:http://www.arctiva.com

    In the past, we’ve felt the pain of building all-Flash sites (SEO, maintainability, etc) and have learned our lesson.  This solution allows us to provide our clients with the best of both worlds.

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  • Forgive me if I’ve completely missed the point but using flash just adds something you don’t need. What’s wrong with the javascript approach that everyone else is using. Surely less is more.

    http://cow.neondragon.net/stuff/reflection/

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  • Forgive me if I’ve completely missed the point but using flash just adds something you don’t need. What’s wrong with the javascript approach that everyone else is using. Surely less is more.

    Of course you could do this without Flash, but that’s not the point.  Dan is simply showing us that Flash can nicely compliment an XHTML site when applied intelligently.  It’s simply up to us, the designers, to be smart and take advantage of Flash’s strengths.

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  • This was said by someone else above but I think it went unnoticed so I’d like to reiterate it.  There’s no need to replace the entire image (in this case) with flash.  Admittedly, since it was an example, in general there may be no other option.  But in this case, and any other case where the “semantic flash” is only adding to the existing content, wouldn’t it be smoother and degrade better if the reflection was added below the regular image?  This would solve the complaints about not being able to right click as well as the blinking replacement.  (Of course, it doesn’t stop someone from downloading the image itself if that’s what you actually wanted.  But that really annoys me so I won’t consider it.)  Of course, you have to make sure that you had a place holder of the same size (could just be a solid background color) so that the page doesn’t have to adjust dramatically (and cause even more confusion for users who don’t care how cool your reflection is).

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  • Good article Dan! But, on example wich you use do you can resolve   for another very simple way, without flash, obviously… heheh use it:
    http://cow.neondragon.net/stuff/reflection/

    Regards for all

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  • Specialized applications such as google analitics, yes, use flash or whatever means necessary to get the job done. You are more or less is control. “Get the plugin or else find a different solution”. For the the rest stick with xhtml and server site solutions.

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  • There is no such thing as “unnecessary use of flash”.  Flash is not against everything the internet was intended for.  It is a front end tool that allows for more dynamic presentation of materials from the simple and flashy (movie websites) to advanced portals (read:  www.rr.com/flash). 

    I would think in 2007 we had gotten passed this anti-Flash debate.  It’s so obviously skewed by a bias against the “hype”, “style” and “flash” (pun intended) that the application brings.

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  • Just wanted to throw my hat in the ring.

    Leaving along the issues of when/whether to use Flash, here is how we have been approaching the challenges of semantic static content powering a richer interface
    – http://www.jamesv.org/2007/04/22/semantic-xhtml-for-flash/

    From time to time on client projects we have encountered technology limitations that have constrained us from utilizing a server-side solution. Systems like this have been lifesavers in crunches of that sort.

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