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To Use or Not to Use Flash/Flex Portals for Websites

Stop confusing Web sites and rich Internet applications!

Last week I was thinking about design of the main view of a new project for a new client of ours. This application is interesting in that it can deployed as an enterprise RIA as well as a tool to be used by any consumer connected to the Internet.

The mockup of the main view looks clearly like a Web portal with a number of portlets, which can be maximized, moved around, and independently communicate with the server(s).  But… This Web site has to be discoverable to bring more and more new customers.  
Here comes the quiz. Can you see why the previous two paragraphs have an important logical issue, which represents a misconception sitting in minds of many creators of Web content?

Being a Java developer, the JSR 168 is always in my mind and the first annoying thought is, “I can create a traditional HTML/JavaScript Web site with portlets, some of each are Flash Player SWF’s and the others are regular HTML/JS markup. This will give to search engines enough of a textual chew to digest plus the benefits of more animated, engaging, and better performing (sorry, Steve) Flash content”.  If some of you want to bring these dopey and groundless Adobe statements that Google is indexing Flash content with special secret, mighty, but headless Flash Player, please, get real or show me the money.

I know how to create a well looking and performing Flex/Flash based portal. I know how to cut this RIA into pieces, how to run this project, how split the job between team members located all around the globe. I don’t know just one thing – how to make this Flash-based portal d-i-s-c-o-v-e-r-a-b-l-e on the Web.

And here comes the answer to my quiz. Stop confusing Web sites and rich Internet applications! Got it? OK, let me re-phrase it. A Web site and RIA are created for different purposes.  Creating an HTML/JS Web site to present, promote, and make discoverable your RIA is one independent track of your project. And a-f-t-e-r the random user somehow landed on this Web page offer him or her a little link to the real beauty – a Flash-based (sorry, Steve) portal.

That’s all folks. It’s Sunday morning, and I need to go out and get some stuff for the barbecue – having more than 20 people over today.
If you want to discuss it in person, consider attending our Third Annual Enterprise Flex Symposium in New York City. It’s a small event where attendees and presenters can have face-to-face conversations.

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More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a co-founder of two software companies: Farata Systems and SuranceBay. He authored several technical books and lots of articles on software development. Yakov is Java Champion (https://java-champions.java.net). He leads leads Princeton Java Users Group. Two of Yakov's books will go in print this year: "Enterprise Web Development" (O'Reilly) and "Java For Kids" (No Starch Press).