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So I'm working on a fairly large project, it's a website that will service about 7000 customers, the website gets about 2500 hits per day, and will be packed as a server and re-sold as a total solution to dozens of other organizations that are in similar situations as this.

The website will have a lot of user input areas. We will need tables of data, your standard registration fields, we will need full control over things like ajax, etc...

What would be the best way to build a website? I'm generally concerned about things like compatibility, ease of use, load times, the bandwidth, etc...

The client has also told us that they need a big spinning globe on the main page, and animated modal dialog boxes, lots of things that move around and animate while sliding, and basically the business website needs to be heavily animated.

Is flash too old? Is javascript even worth-while using?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The server side database and programming language you choose is entirely up to you as the customer is not going to know, nor care, what language it is written in as long as it works. And since you are controlling the server environment you can use anything you want. So choose a programming language and database that your team finds easy to work with and most familiar.

As far as the client side goes you don't have to choose between flash or JavaScript. You can use both if they serve a specific purpose. If something is simply an animation for animation's sake then Flash is a good choice as it is simple to create animations with. And if someone doesn't have access to flash, like on a mobile device, then they won't be missing any functionality. If the animated bits are functional parts of the web page then JavaScript seems like a good tool to use.

FYI, there's no such thing as "too old" in web design and programming. There's only the right tool for the job and not.

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You DO have to choose, if your target includes mobile users. –  Alex Aug 25 '10 at 13:23
    
Not for useless animations. That's why I specifically said that flash should be used for animations that are there for animation's sake only and that javascript should be used for actual functionality. On mobile devices you have limited room to work so those useless animations should be absent from mobile devices anyway. –  John Conde Aug 25 '10 at 13:28
    
What about things like this? useit.com/alertbox/20001029.html –  Incognito Aug 25 '10 at 14:13
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So, to be clear, flash is great for small animations and single graphics on a page, but it should not be the entire website? –  Incognito Aug 25 '10 at 15:14
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Definitely. It also shouldn't be used for any content or functionality unless you can be 100% sure that all of your users will have Flash available to them. If an application must be available on mobile devices then flash is not an option. (FYI, Flash is also bad for SEO). –  John Conde Aug 25 '10 at 15:22

The best way to address concerns about compatibility, ease of use, load times, bandwidth and the like is to design and develop the site with a careful separation of presentation, logic, and storage. Whether the front end is Flash or HTML/CSS/JavaScript, the most important thing is that it's just a front end. This way you can change and improve the user-facing stuff without impact on the logic or storage.

As John Conde pointed out, your choice for server-side logic is up to you: pick the tool that's right for you and right for the job at hand. Ditto for storage (database) systems. But again, be sure that the logic and storage are separate.

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If the target audience is composed of mobile users, than the answer is obvious: JS+CSS.
Otherwise, there are pros and cons for both solutions and each has it's own supporters (it's a never-ending debate, actually), but I think it depends on you and what you are comfortable with. For instance, I find JS+CSS more easy to use, but that's just a personal opinion.

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Mobile is just one platform I wish to target. Do you mean I can't use flash if the audience is mobile? –  Incognito Aug 25 '10 at 13:12
    
Well, you will not find Flash on any iPhone/iPad/iPod and Flash for Android: telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/7709473/… . I know, the demo it's from May, but still... –  Alex Aug 25 '10 at 13:21

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