AJAX && Flash at SXSW08

I’ve submitted a panel idea for South by Southwest 2008. If enough people vote for it, I’ll by talking about “AJAX and Flash mistakes”. My theory is that people talk way too much about successes, and not enough about their failures. We’ve had plenty of each, but if accepted, I’ll be talking exclusively about our failures.
So please: vote for me! The panel picker interface this year is very gmail-esque and cool.
My talk from last year was an inspirational little thing about how Flash and AJAX have a lot of synergies. Check it out below.

While you’re at it, vote for Rashmi’s MUCH funnier panel on “True Stories from Social Media Sites”. It will be a guaranteed laff riot. And it has audience participation, so it will wake you from your deepest SXSW hangover. Here’s the description:
Social websites are funny places. What stories do you tell over drinks with friends? Tell us about when someone accidently revealed their company’s business plans, or uploaded the *wrong* folder of pictures to your site. Share stories of funny bugs, features gone haywire, or crazy customer emails. Stories solicited from audience (maximum 5 minutes / story).

Success Stories for Flash Sockets?

Youtube is the cannonical success story for Flash Video. I’m wondering, where is the big consumer success story for Flash Sockets?
I had long assumed that cool web chat applications like Meebo and GMail-Embedded-GTalk used Flash sockets. But on closer investigation both of them are using COMET.
What gives? What are some examples of massive scale webapps that use sockets? And please, no custom-built inside-the-firewall type app stuff. I want to know about popular consumer webapps that leverage Flash sockets.

Why will AJAX win?

AJAX Info writes about the network effects that are driving AJAX adoption in the enterprise and consumer space.
Programming languages in general benefit from network effects. To boil this down we could say that as more people use a particular language, the value derrived from using it increases exponentially. An example of this might be that as more people start using Ajax, more resources, information, and 3rd party components become available.
Another key point is that AJAX is a continuous, rather than a discontinuous technology. It builds on existing skillsets that web developers have in a way that some other technologies don’t.

Ajax offers something else too. It`s a way for web developers to leverage their current skill sets to achieve the first goal: build better applications. JavaScript and DHTML aren`t new, and more importantly: corporations are loath to acquiring 3rd party software components that use technologies their in house developers have no skills with. It doesn`t make business sense to jump into technologies that have rarified skill sets unless you have to because it`s expensive to be retraining your employees or outsourcing development work to specialized consultants.

He also presents a nice comparison of AJAX to some alternative rich client technologies. The upshot? Vendor Independence and Skill Set Transferrance are the major differentiators. Read the whole thing!

flash && AJAX: two great tastes that taste great together?

Alex Bosworth articulates a vision of what Flash is good for that matches what I’ve experienced. Specifically, Bosworth mentions video (one or two-way) / audio (one or two-way), combined with data sockets (“push” instead of “pull) making Flash a crucial component of next-generation web applications. Macromedia recognises this, and is working hard to make Flash and Javascript work and play well together.
Why don’t more people think of using Flash in this way? In a word, positioning. Bosworth writes: I do think there’s a very distracting red herring here, and that’s Flash’s rich user interface abilities. Every flash demo I’ve ever seen focuses on great looking shiny buttons that look like you took a slick win32 app and plopped it down in a browser window.

Flash RIAs vs. Javascript RIAs

Javascript RIAs (aka AJAX) don’t come close to the interactivity that developers can implement using technologies like Flash or Java. For example, there is no easy way of integrating with audio and video content, there is no ready-made toolkit of application widgets (tree-views, data-grids, etc). There are undeniable advanatages to the JavaScript RIA approach, however. So how do you decide whether a Javascript RIA (or “AJAX”, if you must) or a Flash RIA is right for the project you’re working on?

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