Monday, February 20, 2006

In my last post I was checking out the new Yahoo Javascript Library and mentioned my experiments with Scriptaculous, Dojo and Rico. Most of these experiments were in support of features planned for the next site we are building at Winnercomm. Well, now creative is approved and it is time to start really building things out. So one of the first things I needed to finalize was which javascript library to build these features on. I ended up deciding to go with Rico. I think all of the libraries were pretty nice and easy to use but I had done most of my experiments with Rico and it seemed best to stick with it. It has all the features I need and I found it easy to integrate not with just example HTML but with this CMS driven site.

Rico basically covers three areas that I will be using. First is simplifying Javascript development. By being built upon the Prototype library, plus several of it's own abstractions, I can use the same functions to write much clearer code that works across all the major browsers.

The second is DHTML effects. I have always been very sparing with DHTML previously partly because of the hassle of cross-browser support and partly because as soon as things get flashy I usually just went ahead and used Flash. Most of my work is in Content Management Systems so Flash was actually an easy way to compartmentalize that kind of content and remove it from the the CMS's concern.

The third area is Ajax. While it is tempting to use it just because of the buzz factor, the site I am working on now actually has several features that will benefit greatly from Ajax. Early plans had some site tools planned for flash but as we got further in the design we realized we needed things spread throughout the design and not in one neat area like similar tools I've built in flash before. I am still going to use flash for a lot of this, especially for the video support, but Rico's Ajax support will do wonders for creating a pervasive community aspect to the site.

The further I get into production I am also finding that using Ajax is actually making my CMS coding clearer. It is letting me focus on content and layout on the CMS side while the small tools and widgets behave independently. Usually, there is quite a bit of work in making multiple forms on a page play nicely with each other, but I've been impressed by how clean the Ajax approach has been. I'm sure a lot of that is that I can reuse so much of what I've learned integrating Flash into CMS sites. The process is so similar. The CMS I'm using on this project is Typo3 but I can see this working really well in our other CMSs too. I'll write an tutorial soon on building Rico based Typo3 plugs.


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10:35 AM  

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