Jonathan Boutelle on Flash & AJAX

Nice to see people speaking about their development experiences, ecspecially when using AJAX & Flash together, something that makes absolutely no frikin’ sense to me. This gives a great insight into how people who are not Flash devs expect to use Flash, and how they expect it to work in their project flow. Fascinating stuff.

Since I’m a Flasher at heart, I must respond to his points.

Sockets: XMLSocket is an alternative to Flashcom. It’s been in Flash since 5, and like AJAX’s XMLHTTPRequest, both send and receive XML strings, except XMLSocket in Flash is a persistent socket and allows for server-push instead of the simple request/response. There are a lot of free & professional socket servers out there for this, EXTREMELY cheaper than Flashcom, ecspecially Flashcom 2 since that pricing model doesn’t really facilitate data-only applications anymore.

Additionally, Flash Player 8.5 has binary sockets built-in; expect existing binary socket servers to see a re-surgence in use, and new ones built just for Flash server alternatives.

Rapid Development: “if your code needs to change quickly, or if it needs to be ready in a few weeks, Flash is a poor choice.” Huh? I’m obviously subjective because I’ve been a Flash developer for years, and my HTML skills languish. As such, doing things in Flash, to me is quick, easy, and flexible, whereas me doing HTML & JavaScript goes a lot slower.

I will agree, though, that Flash has it’s code too tightly meshed to the GUI; Flex is indeed faster for prototyping form based applications, and the flexbility has increased 10 fold since your code is not tied to how you lay out your GUI.

Text handling: While I agree text usability in Flash blows, mainly from an integration standpoint, it’s rendering rocks. If you use device fonts, it is extremely readable, even at lower font sizes (14 and below). Unfortunately, the IDE’s default behavior is to use embedded fonts, which has lead to the “Flash shows blurry fonts” impression, which unfortunately is the fault of developers, not the technology. Additionally Flash Player 8’s font rendering engine rivals that of PDF, even with small font sizes.

Again, it’s really great to read these types of articles; both from the AJAX dev comparisons to getting insight into how developers use the tools & their expectations of them.

Flash: what is it good for? (absolutely something!)

One Reply to “Jonathan Boutelle on Flash & AJAX”

  1. > …something that makes absolutely no frikin’ sense to me

    i hear ya. had to ask a VERRY talented ajax-programmer some months ago (pre externalinterface/integration kit time), why the hell he tried to accomplish letting the embedded swf talk to his js-class and vice versa for exchanging XtmlHttpRequest-data.
    me: ‘it is called the XML-Object, it has a method sendAndLoad and it’s been here since the beginning of this century’.
    him: ‘no, because!’
    sometimes i am extremely baffled by how far certain mindsets are just not compatible…but i love them ajaxians :)
    and because of that it is really interesting to get an insight and dig further. thank you for the mindspray-link.

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