Notes about implementation choices (flash versus javascript, browser compatibility, etc)

Notes about implementation choices (flash versus javascript, browser compatibility, etc)

bart's picture

Hey folks!

Given our recent discussion of html5 versus Flash, I thought it might be good for me to talk a bit about how I come to decisions regarding what browsers to support and whether to use Flash or Javascript.

First off, my absolute priority is that if you are running the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, or Opera with Flash installed (roughly 80% of our audience), absolutely everything will work, no matter what.  Furthermore, support for the latest versions of IE and Safari will be good as well, although given Apple's choice not to be compatible with the WebM video codec, I can't 100% guarantee that audio (and video, if we set that up) will continue to work for Safari, although for the time being I'll probably be sticking with Flash.  If you're one of the 3% total who are hitting this site with IE 6 or 7, I'm sorry, but I can't spend the time testing and coding for your browsers and still do all of the things that I need to do; however, if you'd like to volunteer to help me make the site work with your browser, I'd love the assistance.

So, what's my reasoning for all this?

First and foremost, I'm doing this pretty much on my own (with occasional help from some other people).  I've got a ton of feature requests, and in order to implement them all, I need to pick whatever is going to be the quickest way to do them that the majority of the userbase (see above) will be able to see.  This means that I unfortunately don't have time to set up alternate themes for browsers that can't handle the code, or spend hours (and trust me, it takes hours) tweaking stylesheets and javascript and HTML elements to make old browsers work (here's looking at you, IE 6).

Secondly, given the site's Free Software philosophy, all other things being equal, I'll prioritize people who are running standards-compliant browsers without Flash over non-standards-complient browsers with it.  Plus, I know javascript and jquery, and I find them a lot easier than Flash to code for quickly (which goes back to my first point).

TL;DR -- My priorities are time and then open standards, in that order. :)

Comments, as always, are welcome. :)