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Unity [web] Web Applications vs. Web Sites vs. Web Pages.

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Web Sites

A web site is a collection of related articles, applications, and file downloads which, together, make up some sort of community or resource.

Web Pages

These are content pages. They should be clean, easy to follow, structured reasonably well (e.g. correctly nested headings and proper use of the correct html tags). They should be able to be printed cleanly, easily read by screen readers, and usable regardless of the availability of CSS or javascript support.

Web Applications

Web applications are the future of technology. They can be built on many platforms, though the lighter weight you go, the better. A web application should be fast, intuitive, and not require any kind of specialized software. Ideally, a web application should only rely on integrated browser technologies supported by the most common browsers (IE, Mozilla-based, Safari, Opera, etc.). Flash and Java can be tolerable, though please bear in mind that many users can't download a 4MB java applet just for your silly special effects. You should try to make these as accessable as possible, though unfortunately technology isn't quite up to snuff in this area, so many shortcomings exist. There seems to be a serious issue lately with people misusing terms lately, especially in light of the recent surge in development in the web applications industry. If you're currently designing a new, content-oriented site, and you think it'd be a good idea to have a single page interface and load all the content into the page dynamically, please do the world a favor and find a different occupation. By that same token, if you're designing a complex web application, and you feel it's acceptable to reload the page whenever a user changes anything, put in your unemployment application right now. I'm going to point out a few examples of sites that are violating these basic, simple principals in such a way that they make me want to murder people. For starters, we have Backbase, a rather interesting piece of technology that's been developed to facilitate this new web applications renissance. Unfortunately, the designers of their website seem to have gotten too caught up in technology without realizing that they've created one of the most difficult to navigate sites that I've ever had the displeasure of working with. Look, if you're re-drawing 90% of the page, it's OK to make me reload the whole thing. As a matter of fact, it will probably be faster to just do that as most browsers will process a new page much faster than you can parse and assemble it in javascript. Add to that my biggest pet peeve -- you can't link directly to any of the pages, or at least you can't in any intuitive manner to speak of. This is a content site. I understand that they're trying to promote a product, but lets get with it -- there are much better ways to do this. The demos are fantastic (especially the shopping cart thing), but the site is just nasty. Next, we have a personal favorite of mine: gmail. Now, I love gmail. I think it's probably got one of the best web mail implementations around. But it's broken in several ways: 1.) You can't link directly to a message or even open up messages in a new tab / window. There are links on the page, why not use them? This entire problem can EASILY be solved by a simple change to the page: <a href="?msgid=4807" onclick="ShowMessage(4807); return false;"> Viola -- problem solved! Now I can link to the message, open it in a new tab, etc. 2.) There's no good way to quickly reorganize messages. I'm basically stuck with labels, and then chronological ordering. Drag and drop is hardly a difficult thing to implement -- let's use it, no? 3.) Actually, that's all I can think of right now. In conclusion, learn your role. Just because some technology exists, it doesn't make it a good idea to use it in every possible scenerio. Just because you're using a technology, don't forget about the little things about doing it "the old way" that might actually enhance usability.

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I've come to just accept the fact that the Web will continually be abused by people who don't know what they are doing. One project that I am taking over has SQL queries that are multiple pages when printed out. :P Something like twenty-five subselects OR'd together.

Anyway, on the topic of misusing DHTML: the biggest mistake I see is that people fail to create a standard fallback option.

I have no problems with people over using DHTML on a Web Site as long as it is optional. In your gmail example, I agree that one should be able to right click on a post and open in a new window. The link should look like:


<a href="/gmail/?some-long-horrible-encoded-thing" onclick="return magicJS()">My Message</a>



This way you get the best of both worlds. Fast execution via partial loading via JS, and more flexibility via a standard, working link.

To me, it's not about NOT using DHTML on Web Sites, but it's about using it to enhance standard functionality.

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One project that I am taking over has SQL queries that are multiple pages when printed out. :P Something like twenty-five subselects OR'd together.
I'm going to have nightmares about that tonight.

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We should start a brainstorming thread on ways GameDev.net can update itself to the 21st century. Anyone realize how poor it really is? Sure it's okay for most of us, because we're used to it...

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I agree with hating dynamic content that reloads the whole page. The one that really bugs me, and I have run across it a couple of times, is when you have a page with a single drop down combobox. Choosing an entry in the box then reloads the entire page with a second combobox added. Choosing something in that one reloads the page and adds a third. Its frustrating because it slows the whole process down. Just have three combo boxes on the page!

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I agree with hating dynamic content that reloads the whole page. The one that really bugs me, and I have run across it a couple of times, is when you have a page with a single drop down combobox. Choosing an entry in the box then reloads the entire page with a second combobox added. Choosing something in that one reloads the page and adds a third. Its frustrating because it slows the whole process down. Just have three combo boxes on the page!

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Original post by Fuzztrek
If only we could get javascript to be respected/expected as much as CSS and (x)html...

Considering how abused it was in the past I'm sure many people are still a bit afraid of it. If a few great tutorials/case studies about what can be done with javascript today as opposed to yesterday made their way around I think it would start to gain some respect.

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Personally I call anything which is an application which uses web technology, a "web application".

I do this regardless of whether it uses client-scripting, "Dyanmic HTML", XMLHttpRequest or not.

I've normally found that it makes applications easier to maintain if you make them as simple as possible.

So while there are circumstances where it is desirable to use clever techniques (like complex client scripting), there are also a lot where it is not.

I do agree that gamedev.net needs to move into the 21st C - it can start by using only non-deprecated HTML4 and style sheets.

Mark

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Original post by markr
I do agree that gamedev.net needs to move into the 21st C - it can start by using only non-deprecated HTML4 and style sheets.


Not to mention smarter use of meta tags if we're going to be relying on Google for search. For instance, the meta tags for this thread are repeated twice and have absolutely nothing to do with the thread topic.

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