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DHTML or Flash?

The last five years has seen an exponential growth in the use of shockwave and flash animations in creating websites. The old tried and trusted techniques such as D/HTML are slowly moving over to make room for this newer multimedia delivery vehicle.

Scripting, such as Javascript, is viewed with disdain by some and ignored by others. Yet the people who advocate the use of flash/shockwave in creating multimedia-rich sites are not asking the right question: Is all that glitters gold?

An important facet of flash / shockwave glossed over by most people is that these technologies are a packaged scripting environment: In other words - most of what you can do in flash, you can do in DHTML with a little effort.

A question that pops up at this stage is: Why would I want to go through all of that? The answer is simple and is illustrated by way of practical example.

Pick a topic - any topic - and type the relevant search keywords into your favorite search engine. Now try to find a flash site under the first thirty results. You will be surprised to find that this "silver bullet" of web design does not even feature.

The majority of search engines do not support the indexing of shockwave / flash sites - this can have a detrimental effect on your Internet business if you rely on search engine traffic to generate revenue. Remember one thing: Content is king and the only recognized content is in HTML pages.

Bells and Whistles: Where, When and What

Deploying rich multimedia sites are becoming more and more a design requirement. However, the objective of your site should be the determining factor between using D/HTML or Flash for multimedia content. Exposure and the generation of revenue solidly discounts the use of Flash as the major site component - search placement is too important to sacrifice for a simple thing such shiny buttons. D/HTML provides an attractive alternative to ensuring that your site is indexed properly by search engines.

However, Flash should not be put out to pasture based on this: Limited Flash content can still be an asset on your Internet presence if used judiciously. Corporate Intranets are another matter entirely: Flash provides the perfect delivery vehicle for rich business applications, where DHTML would be more of a liability than an asset - e.g. training material, presentations and etcetera.

In conclusion, the objective of a site should determine which of the two technologies are the preferred medium for multimedia delivery.

Riaan Pieterse is the CEO and founder of [kerberosdev.net site canít be reached] South Africa. Having spent a number of years conducting various consulting assignments in the Far East, Middle East, Africa and Europe to businesses and governments alike, Riaan has a solid understanding of the business and technology issues in today's market.

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