Has anyone noticed that Adobe's online store seems to be 100% Flash/Flex? All well and good, but browsing to it in Safari with plugins turned off--as I just did when researching the GoLive article--gives you nothing but a blank page. Not good.
So how does one assure that your users are going to see your fancy Flash/Flex/AJAX site?
If you're reading this to see if I have the answer, I have to say that I don't. But that aside, the question still remains: How do you make sure your site works? And what are the alternatives?
Browsing in Safari fails. The same occurs in FireFox with a add-on like FlashBlock or NoScript installed. Why turn off or disable scripts and/or plugins? Mostly to avoid all of the annoying rich media ads that seem to abound on the web.
Enabling Flash doubles the processing power needed to handle most sites (a consideration on a notebook) since nearly every modern animated ad is Flash-based, and also ensures that sooner or later (usually sooner) I'm going to be bushwacked with a web page with an autorunning video or ad with SOUND. Usually at maximum volume. So I turn them off when I know I don't need them.
And since those plugins exist, and remain amoung the most popular FireFox downloads, I apparently am not the only one who does so.
Or if, say, you're using the new features in Flash 9 the numbers are only in the mid-eighties. That means potential problems for 15 out of 100 visitors.
Even sites that first attempt to see if the plugin is there fail, as it's not that the plugin isn't there, it's installed, and the browser reports it as so. It's simply blocked from running.
It would seem that somehow you'd need to do a check beforehand, but what kind of check? Create a Flash stub that does a page request back to your site, setting a flag so you know this session is Flash-enabled? And if the stub never responds, revert to "old-school" version?
And let's look at that option. Are rich media sites going to need two versions of a major system like a store and shopping cart? Are you going to have to double-code every AJAX system? What happens when your income producing online store breaks down. How do you fail gracefully?
CAN you fail gracefully?
Look at the source HTML for Adobe's store. They ARE doing checks. A lot of them. And the store still fails.
As such, one even needs to ask if a mission-critical system like a registration system or shopping cart should be coded using advanced RIA technologies? And this isn't even mentioning screen-readers and potential accessibility issues.
Because if a major corporation like Adobe can't do it, I don't have a lot of hope for the rest of us.