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"Murphy was an optimist!"

All Things Web 2.0 August 18, 2006 9:19 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : AJAX, HTML, Programming, Technology, Web 2.0
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View a list of the best and most popular web 2.0 applications. What is Web 2.0? It is being hailed the next generation of web applications. In reality, it is an old concept. The way the World Wide Web works is a client computer (your web browser) makes a protocol request (typically http) to a web server which then talks to other servers (ColdFusion, PHP, mail, news, etc.) and returns a document to your browser. We experience this as a screen refresh and the little icon in your browser spinning around like an abnoxious hourglass. Web 2.0 gives the illusion that the wait, the hourglass, has been eliminated. It uses JavaScript tricks to make the requests behind the scenes. You can witness this by adding something to your Google Calendar. Notice the word "Loading…"? That has replaced a total page refresh.

I have problem with Web 2.0 and that is accessibility. For years web developers have held back on certain capabilities in order to not limit their audience. I would ask my clients, "how successful would McDonald’s be if they turned away 80% of their customers?" In the early days relying on something like JavaScript could be just that limiting. As a business, you have to know who you are serving. If your customer base is primarily Mac users and your web developer says, "I don’t support Safari." then you need to decide if you are going to fire your web developer or your customers. Browsers have come a long way and for the most part are much more compliant and compatible and almost all support Javascript. So where is the accessibility problem? We have far more computer neophytes using computers today and playing on the Internet (primarily via the World Wide Web). Apply firewall settings too strictly or get overly aggressive on popup blocking and you may find that Javascript is disabled. Try disabling Javascript and use Google’s calendar. They can afford to turn people away. Can you?

Use Web 2.0! It is cool and what people will expect of your application. However, write it to degrade nicely. Detect that Javascript is disabled and, if so, present your site Web 1.0 style.

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