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Gucci places faith in Scriptaculous over Flash

Posted in: JavaScript,WebDev by Richard Hearne on August 23, 2006
Internet Marketing Ireland

You may or may not have heard of Thomas Fuchs’ Script.aculo.us which is a Javascript effects library written on top of Sam Stephenson’s popular Prototype library.

Well even if you haven’t heard of either of these Javascript libraries there’s a high chance your made use of them somewhere or other in your travels around the interweb. Both libraries are used extensively in ‘Web 2.0′ applications such as Digg, a couple of 37signals properties, and Fluxiom (the teaser movie for this application was very cool and the application itself has the best web UI I have seen). Scriptaculous has been responsible for adding a new depth of interactivity and content dynamism that had previously been the sole domain of Macromedia’s Flash application.

A post over on Ajaxian mentioned that Gucci, the world famous fashion house, had implemented a new website built on the Sriptaculous library. I think this is a huge vote of confidence in Javascript in general, and Scriptaculius and Prototype in particular.

The site itself has an extremely clean look-and-feel and I’m sure that many visitors will believe they are in a Flash environment. I did find getting to grips with the navigation a little testing, and from a usability perspective I think this is a bit of a letdown. One feature I liked (but I’m sure it was a necessity) is the system of loading on-demand the glossy images on the site (although, this system is based on a bastardised src tag in the mark-up which I don’t like).

I have used these libraries previously for a database application running on a corporate intranet and the results, from a usability perspective, were really impressive. Of course, on an intranet it was possible to control the client environment. On the Internet you have issues such as cross-browser and cross-platform compatibilities, to name but a few.

If you are interested in other sites that use Javascript to mimic Flash then the portfolio page of Christof Wagner, which was built by Thomas Fuchs’ to showcase the Scriptaculous library, might also be worth a look.

Of course one further issue, which is probably more peculiar to Ireland than many other locations, is the additional overhead these libraries add to page-load (circa 100Kb). If you have seen the Digg homepage load on dial-up you will know what I’m talking about!

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  1. [...] Search Engine Optimisation Ireland .:. Red Cardinal » Gucci places faith in Scriptaculous over Flash (tags: ajax script.aculo.us) [...]

    Pingback by TimmyBLOG » links for 2006-08-29 — August 29, 2006 @ 1:30 am

  2. You might want to check the spelling of Thomas’ name in that last paragraph ;-).

    Comment by Brett Terpstra — August 29, 2006 @ 5:51 pm

  3. Cheers Brett

    That was one serious typo.

    No offense to Thomas – innocent slip :)

    Comment by Richard Hearne — August 29, 2006 @ 9:39 pm

  4. Was just wondering, how Script.aculo.us affects accessibility, especially in Browsers/User agents that do not have Javascript enabled. Any ideas?

    Comment by Jonathan — November 20, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

  5. Sorry, totally used incorrect email address have amended now…

    Comment by Jonathan — November 20, 2006 @ 4:52 pm

  6. Hi Jonathan

    I haven’t done any testing with script.aculo.us and accessibility, but I know you run into all sorts of difficulties when you use a dynamic approach to building your page/DOM.

    I would be inclined to avoid the use of DHTML and AJAX if accessibility is a major concern, unless you can ensure that all JS functionality degrades gracefully. It is possible but quite difficult to implement.

    If you want a nice tutorial on DOM scripting in a way that degrades nicely in the absence of JS give me a shout and I’ll send you the link.



    Comment by Richard Hearne — November 20, 2006 @ 5:00 pm

  7. It’s relatively easy–on a small site–to provide fallbacks for browsers that have javascript disabled. Gucci’s site is so saturated with effects that there is little semantic markup left for the non-javascript browser. Which is okay for Gucci, they know their target audience, and can afford to snub some folks. Until Target-style litigation, anyway.

    If you ever question whether a site is accessible, use Firefox with the Web Developer extension. That will let you turn off javascript and CSS individually and see what’s left, as well as test other accessibility features.

    Comment by Brett Terpstra — November 21, 2006 @ 12:59 am

  8. Good point Brett

    And if you really want to check out your accessible site you can actually go one step further and install a text browser such as Lynx.

    Then your mind will truly be opened to how vision impaired people see your wesbite. I have to say I have a very much deeper appreciation for accessible mark-up ever since installing Lynx.

    I wonder where flash only sites would fit into this?



    Comment by Richard Hearne — November 21, 2006 @ 8:19 am

  9. Hi Brett

    Thanks for the posts/replys.

    I know that Javascript support is improving on many user agents, such as JAWS and Window Eyes etc…but still find it slightly frustrating having been involved in user tests with customers with accessibility requirements, know how frustrated they get using sites such as this, as well as Flash driven content.


    PS Richard – thanks for your comment on the site. Cool Blog, will stay in touch.

    Comment by Jonathan — November 21, 2006 @ 9:28 am

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