SxSW: Flash or Ajax

by Luke Wroblewski March 11, 2007

Jonathan Boutelle’s Flash or Ajax talk at SxSW2007 focused on a really simple idea: in order to create really kick ass applications you need both Ajax & Flash.

  • The Web application Slideshare could not have been built without both Flash & Ajax.
  • The team originally wrote pieces of the application in Flash but had to rewrite them as Ajax, and vice versa.
  • Consumer applications are evaluated based on how fast and efficient they are
  • Keep Flash on a leash. The Web is built on HTML, full screen Flash Web sites break a number of Web audience expectations. Search engine optimization of Flash sites is pretty poor. The load time of Flash applications is not as good as HTML. Even if cut up Flash still takes a while to load.
  • Use Flash as nuggets embedded in HTML pages.
  • To make simple dynamic updates to a Web page, Ajax is not that complex. In place editing, indication, tabs across sections, and more are good examples for Ajax interactions.
  • Flash graphic capabilities: embedding fonts, vector graphics, animation
  • Flash multimedia: awesome output, input, and editing of media.
  • Flash is also great for producing media: YouTube uploads videos while recording them. Bubbleshare uses microphone connection to narrate photos.
  • Flash is really good for widgets that are distributed all over the Web but if you want things to blend in, HTML/Ajax works well.
  • Cool but not useful in Flash:
    • Sockets (allow server to talk to clients). but most inline chat clients use Comet instead.
    • Local data objects (can save 100kb without asking), if they say yes can add as much local files)
    • FLEX is really easy to program in (XML declarative language) but its output is full screen Flash applications.
  • Need Ajax/Flash crossover artists. Throw away your cultural baggage and bring these technologies together to create great applications.