The Great Migration II : Protocol Unknown

Alright, I actually had promised the second part of ‘the Great Migration’ post last week, but I have to admit that having some time off felt honestly better than to write. Yes, I admit it… I prefer to be lazy from time to time.

So, with a little delay, I will pick up the pace, and take you along the scenic route of  the change from one of my company’s major content management systems from a Flash front-end to HTML, and all that comes along with it.

I my earlier post today, I mentioned a trip that I have taken last week to the southern Carolina states. My father and I decided to take a trip, and have the ol’ beloved Town Car put some miles to its belt. And we like to drive, long distances, and just relax. And one of the major highlights of the trip was the piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia that we decided to follow. Top Gear UK actually announced it one of the prettiest highways in the world (that sadly only supported 35mph), along with many others; and you know what? They might be right. Anyway, that piece of highway delivered a most comfortable drive, through the most gorgeous landscape and delivering amazing vistas over the surrounding area – and that in pure silence.

So, when enjoying this piece of pure nature, I flipped out my phone, called my hard-working wife and try to share a bit of the scenery, and then took the pictures on my Canon EOS and recorded some videos on the iPad. I felt almost Japanese.

But this also showed me something else, the whole reason I am migrating the system that I own; it is not about how you experience a moment or product; it is the experience itself that is important. This is dangerous that I realized this while my company’s name is Dialect-Line Experiences.

That also meant that, it is not that everything has to be exactly the same on any platform, it needs to ‘feel’ the same. And experiencing a vista and trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of those things you will never experience through a photo, or a video or a phone call from some excited guy… you have to be there.

Just like a concert of your favorite band. It never sounds as good as it did in the arena, and not on a crappy live-cd.

Websites and media productions are a bit easier to manage though; because – at least right now in our time – they are experienced through a screen. If it is a small screen on your phone, larger on your tablet and desktop, or gigantic on your tv screen – they are all screens. So, that makes the presentation layer easier to handle than a ‘real-life’ experience.

When I started building the new edition of the presentation layer of our platform, my only goal was to deliver a solution to people who don’t want to, or cannot use Flash anymore. But that is not correct then too. I am doing it to deliver visitors of my clients’ websites they way to experience the websites wherever they go. And so, I needed to take it a step further. It needed to be able to handle any kind of new presentation layer that would come up next.

As many of you know, I am not a fan of HTML or HTML5. Experienced, absolutely, most likely more than most, but I cannot like it. It is like a 55mph speed limit around Washington DC while you just drove 9 hours of a 70mph speed zone from Charleston, SC. You don’t like it, but you have to deal with it.

But I still don’t believe that HTML5 will stick. There will be something new, that completely utilizes digital media and is easier to handle with creativity and design. Flash has given us a good starting point while it lasted, and something new will come up.

Maybe HTML5 will be the foundation of it, that could be, but it won’t be the way how people experience it. Not the developers, not the users.

So, over the last weeks I have been tinkering, put on my welding shield and sparks were flying into the still of the night, while the radio softly sang in the background (am I setting a good mood here?). Disconnecting the front-end with the back-end even further (I always support a complete separation of different layers in media productions). And so, that I can easily prepare for complete unknown platforms in the future, while my clients don’t have to worry about not being compatible with the next new thing, and not being slapped around with extra bills when that time comes.

Sure, it requires extra work, and it requires more documentation than a standard system already requires; but we’re getting there. And, of course, tinkering on a presentation layer, always provides the opportunity to ‘upgrade’ the system, allowing new changes that have been requested by clients, that sometimes are quite good concepts that I did not have when I started building it in 2007.

Next week, I will write the third part of this article, mentioning the wrap up and the  publication of the system and allowing both Flash websites and HTML websites to run, with the same look and feel and functionality as it was before.

I hope you’ll stick around.

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