The Great Migration – Part 1

As I have mentioned before, I always have been in favor of using the Adobe Flash platform and have used it for years to build lots of very successful projects. But times change, the mobile industry dropped the platform and there are practically two ways forward; adapt or go the way of the dodo.

I chose option 1. Because I could always stick with my support of the platform, and  be one of the last people to stay on deck of that ship. Although, I should not compare Flash to a sinking ship, it is definitively a platform that is losing support… fast.

So, a lot of websites who also wanted to go to the more adapted HTML platform, could modify itself or have itself completely rebuild. And to be honest, it is not turning out to be something pretty.

I have never hidden the fact that I personally think we are making a huge mistake here, by basically taking many steps back into the possibilities of what we can do on both mobile and desktop devices. I feel like taking a trip back many years into memory lane, and I don’t like being tossed back into the browser wars etc.

But again, if that is the playing field nowadays, it will have to do. And the only reason why I do think I have the right to claim that it is a step back, is because I do have earned my degrees in HTML (2,3,4,5) and JavaScript over the years. Even though I do not love this situation, it is like being back in the band you had when you were in your early twenties; you know you are good, but there was a good reason why you split up.

So, what I wanted to do is actually show a little bit of insight in this trajectory. I own a business that has its own CMS/Design platform that we have successfully deployed to a large number of sites, for clients ranging from the local retail store to multinationals. And it has been holding on very nicely.

The main element of it was – when it was designed and developed in 2007 – that it could create and design Flash sites and allow full content management in a very easy to use and client-friendly interface. So, there was also another reason why I did not like the dropped support for the Flash platform; it hurt me as a business too. And slowly, client’s questions about ‘supporting mobile’ kept trickling in. And I knew we had to change, but also still support the flash community.

But, I refused to give in into the trend to start building ‘basic’ websites again, the ones we had already 10 years ago. Because it seems like that when people hear ‘HTML’ it is synonymous to ‘basic design’, which is absolutely nonsense.

HTML can deliver just a visual appearance as any other platform. With proper use of JavaScript, AJAX and JQuery and Stylesheets, you can get it done. Sure, most likely you have to quadruple the development time and do a lot of unnecessary coding, but I believe it can be done.

So, when starting this migration project in my company, it meant being able to re-create exactly the same sites automatically as Flash did; which is not so much a difficult thing, than something that needs to be done very carefully.

With my clients, there is actually an extra catch; I cannot use HTML5 and/or CSS3. Since some of my clients are government agencies or departments, I still have to deal with the XP/IE6 crowd, if I like it or not. Even if it isn’t supported by Microsoft itself anymore.

So, it is a nice and promises to be an interesting journey that I will write about in three installments, of which this has been the first explaining the motivation. The next two installments will describe the migration itself, which will be followed by the delivery and most likely with all the problems that happen with that.

These next two installments will be written next week, and the memorial day week. I hope you can get some information out of it, and otherwise a little bit of an entertaining read.

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