June 3, 2002
2:23 PM   Subscribe

Marriage of Heaven and Hell, pt. II. Jakob cosies up to Flash, Flash cosies up to Jakob.
posted by jfuller (24 comments total)
standard set of interaction controls: finally, no more random scroll bars made up at the whim of a flash designer.

Speaking of scroll bars and the web, many of these custom 'oooh-cool' color scroll bars leave me not knowing where in the hell I am on the page (MF's is a BIT clearer...but still...WHY?). As often as not I end up clicking in the wrong area and scroll the wrong way...(usability nerd alert!!!)
posted by HTuttle at 2:29 PM on June 3, 2002

Am I the only one who is consistently irritated by Neilson's pedantic writing style?
posted by aladfar at 2:32 PM on June 3, 2002

Time to push the Doomsday Clock a couple ticks forward.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:38 PM on June 3, 2002

Time to push the Doomsday Clock a couple ticks forward.

I think this is the 24th or 25th sign of the apocalypse.
posted by HTuttle at 2:54 PM on June 3, 2002

I for one think this can lead to nothing but good things. I get the feeling that Macromedia isn't happy with the image of Flash on the web. Frankly put, it's a powerful technology used for almost entirely pointless and annoying things. Most Flash movies are things I avoid through skip intro buttons, they break the back button, and don't respect the nature of hypertext (I can't select/copy or print it). Macromedia would do wonders if they could clean up Flash's image by helping out the usability side of things on the app, as well as the standard components code it creates. I know they've paid lip service to web accessibility in the past, and their efforts have produced at least some improvements in that realm.

As an application developer, I'm intrigued by Flash's push into web apps of late. It is possible that I could create a comment form like this one that allowed for keystroke HTML writing, inline spellchecking on the fly, etc, but the tool is a bear to use and the standard controls it spits out could use a bit of work. It is conceivable that someday one could build an entire application like Blogger in Flash and not have to worry about browser support, as long as everyone has the latest plugins. You could get functionality similar to DHTML in even browsers like Netscape 3 through the use of Flash.

Up until now, the frequent creators of Flash content haven't put much thought into usability, and the output shows. Before I'd ever consider deploying Flash on this site, I'd want to make sure it solves technology problems better than anything else out there, benefits from increased browser support, and is infinitely usable and allows me to maintain the simplified interface I've got around here.
posted by mathowie at 2:57 PM on June 3, 2002

Still, there's nothing that can stop you, if you're a Flash developer, to play the rebel guy and keep flipping the bird to Nielsen and the MM execs that thought this would be a great idea.

Trouble is, this won't get you very far in terms of business nowadays.

FWIW, Flash -the application- has never been the problem here. The "I got skillz" ego-driven, dopey designer kids' attitude that think everyone gets their idea of a site, have been. Blaming Flash for a "bad web" is like blaming a hammer for a lousy carpenter's work. Now, as usability concerns, that is still a very relative subject matter, whose relevance is highly based on a given site's target audience and purpose. Or to put it more simply: MeFi's no Praystation, or viceversa. To each its own.
posted by betobeto at 3:13 PM on June 3, 2002

Flash MX has very nice support for XML and data-binding is quite codable. It now comes with a handy bunch of GUI objects for rapid prototyping. Flash movies can be compiled as stand-alone executables as well as embedded in web content.

There's a few hurdles (OO ActionScript isn't really very doable, yet), but maybe we're looking at the ultimate cross-platform thin-client.

I hope so.
posted by normy at 3:20 PM on June 3, 2002

I never thought I'd see the day. I'm sure all of the avant-garde designers are up in arms, but speaking as a person who just wants to see where I might be headed when I mouse over a link, I think it's a great idea. I'd also like to open links in a new window to save the flash app from having to reload every time I click the back button on my browser, another thing you can't do with flash. Jakob, please note.
posted by iconomy at 3:32 PM on June 3, 2002

Is it just me, or is Jakob Nielsen's site not the most ass-ugly, usability-deprived place on the net? I'm no Web guru, but who appointed this guy a useability expert?
posted by dogmatic at 3:39 PM on June 3, 2002

dogmatic: He did - goaded on by the media & their constant search for people that provide entertaining soundbites & can be elevated to gury status. I'm sure that it doesn't help either that in the MacCentral article on this subject he is referred to as "the king of usability".

In my not so humble opinion Mr. Nielsen is nothing but a $2 whore - willing to sacrifice even what little dignity & professional respect he has to left if it means that he gets to sleep with the big players. He's been ranting about Flash for years - not just the usability principles behind the program - but also the very use of it for digital content delivery. And, now, with Macromedia suddenly paying his exorbant fees, he turns & says "basic Flash technology is proof that it works to evangelize usability and point out usability problems."

Blah - a pox on him!
posted by mschmidt at 3:51 PM on June 3, 2002

You want Jakob Nielsen to contract syphilis? Gross.
posted by insomnyuk at 4:04 PM on June 3, 2002

What mschmidt said. I'll go further and say that I'm disappointed in Macromedia.
Paying The Unctious One for anointment.
posted by Opus Dark at 4:05 PM on June 3, 2002

What's wrong with XHTML+CSS again? Most of this new functionality simply does what HTML does, but not as well. And compared to HTML, this stuff is a beast to author... I'm sticking with HomeSite, thank you very much.
posted by Ptrin at 4:08 PM on June 3, 2002

yeah, but he sure can boogie woogie
posted by billder at 4:15 PM on June 3, 2002

(Unctious = Unctuous on my home world.)
posted by Opus Dark at 4:30 PM on June 3, 2002

arbiters of taste, wah...love the 2 dollar whore analogy.
posted by bittennails at 4:45 PM on June 3, 2002

As a lowly flash developer working for a big corporation, I'm interested to see what Jakob sez, but I'm also going to take it with a grain of salt. It's my opinion that Jakob is more interested in hearing himself talk than to listening to the needs of others. He is also unaware of the work that Flash developers have been doing in the field, instead wanting to take all the credit himself.

I picture his usability tests as him playing around with the web and video taping it.

Flazoom.com has an excellent post abut the whole thing too.
posted by DragonBoy at 6:17 PM on June 3, 2002

aladfar: Am I the only one who is consistently irritated by Neilson's pedantic writing style?

Absolutely not. Who died and made this bozo the Boss of Web Design? He bugs.
posted by Fofer at 10:31 PM on June 3, 2002

I always imagine Jakob Nielsen as a frustrated (and very, very bad) designer whose jealousy of people with actual creativity drives him to ruin all their fun and force them to make boring, one-column pages with huge text and no images, just like his. That said, I'm kinda glad to see someone taking the piss out of these hotshot Flash guys that write whole sites in Flash just to prove they can, not because the site needs flash. And no one made Nielsen the boss of web design, that's Zeldman.
posted by poorhaus at 9:20 AM on June 4, 2002

Has anyone ever seen Jakob and the Time Cube guy at the same time?

I'm not sayin' nuthin'...
posted by NortonDC at 10:57 AM on June 4, 2002

Marriage of Heaven and Hell... which is which?
posted by greensweater at 12:01 PM on June 4, 2002

NortonDC: What was that? RPI? Huh?
posted by ParisParamus at 12:06 PM on June 4, 2002

I don't know what RPI means, but trying to address your question, the guy definitely is serious.
posted by NortonDC at 2:11 PM on June 4, 2002

RPI = Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?
posted by youhas at 5:37 PM on June 4, 2002

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