Google Maps reimplemented in AFLAX

by Tim O'Brien

Check out this AFLAX implementation of Google Maps by a company named xamlon. Here's an explanation of the AFLAX approach. I really think AFLAX is market-speak, what we're looking at is Flash + REST.

I've been doing this for a while, and I somewhat resent the new acronym, but I prefer this model to AJAX. When I saw all the hype over AJAX I was somewhat non-plussed. As someone who has worked on sites with heavy Javascript, I don't relish the opportunity to debug Javascript + DHTML. Using Flash for rich client GUI is preferable because it leads to a better division of labor. IMHO, designers grok Flash faster than Javascript.

AFLAX, isn't that the insurance company with the duck ads?


2005-05-23 09:33:17
i agree
i'm getting really tired of the bleeding edge praising ajax yet still complaining about flash. to me, they're both at the same level of accessibility (i.e. screen readers for the blind are useless for both technologies); but, you're right.. flash is easier to work with.
2005-05-23 09:37:15
the backlash begins?
Well, truth be told, Flash is proprietary in a way I dislike. But, after fooling around with it for a few years, I find it easy enough to work with. The challenge is knowing what to put in Flash and what to keep on the server. I also appreciate what the designer crowd thinks about GUI design - they have an easier time using a tool like Flash than mucking around with nasty DHTML tricks. The backlash begins.
2005-05-23 09:48:33
too right
As a former graphic designer turned Flash scripter, I can tell you that UI designers would be hard pressed to adopt AJAX. One of the reasons Flash took off so mightily in 2000 is that pure designers were able to create UI's without the serious limitations of HTML.
Having worked on both sides of the fence, I believe it is dangerous to let programmers decide which tool is best for presentation. And AJAX smells like a clever exercise for programmers that ignores the strides (and falls) we've had in the past 5 years of UI design and development. Flash will surely be replaced down the road, but the core concepts of decoupling the presentation from the code are, right now, best expressed in the Flash development framework.
2005-05-23 11:47:06
hee hee
it'd be a heavy, slow, and proprietary version of google maps, but it only kinda works part of the time. that's flash for ya.

i understand the designers love of flash, it's simple, it has buttons that can be pushed, it's mostly visual.

that said flash has a number of very serious drawbacks. it's heavy, it's slow, it's proprietary. most importantly flash designers think like print designers, size and efficiency don't matter to them. they don't know what is happening behind the scenes so they don't know how to work efficiently nor do they care. ( there are a very few exceptions and i'm basing this off having worked with serveral flash designers some of them very very well known )

ajax is important for two reasons. #1 Marcomedia should not own the web, the web is open and needs to stay that way. There is no good reason that Macromedia could not have supported SVG, EMCA, and xml. #2 it takes interface programming away from people whose only knowlege of a for loop is that they think they saw one in the code they copied from somebody elses script.

don't get me wrong flash has it's place. fancy movie websites, artist portfolios, and games are certainly places flash works nicely. but it's place is not to replace html/xml. my hope honestly is that flash will go the way of the JAVA Applet. though i hope this happens because EMCAScript, XML, SVG, and CSS progress to the point where it isn't needed.

2005-05-23 12:00:59
Right on one point, it's proprietary. And, yes, I don't especially care for that - see previous yarn re: Harmony.

Too heavy? If you think a 39K is too heavy for a web page than I think we've just regressed back a few years. And maybe if you clicked on the link you would have noticed that the xamlon implementation is smoother than the original Google Maps.

Here's what you are really getting at: you don't want to give an inch to someone who might not be as "Neo" as you. Your words: "most importantly flash designers think like print designers, size and efficiency don't matter to them. they don't know what is happening behind the scenes so they don't know how to work efficiently nor do they care." zero11, I think you may have just been working with the wrong Flash guys. Really, programmers have to stop thinking that they own everything that has to do with logic. Of the three "designers" I've known well. One became one of the greatest programmers alive. One knows ActionScript as well as he knows SVG and XML. The other, well, he's still just a designer after all these years but he's outlasted almost every programmer at his company.

If you think programmers are going to create the next batch of kickass GUI interfaces - yikes.

2005-05-23 12:13:37
hee hee
well, the swf format is open, lazlo produces flash content, and most flash programmers have adopted open source development tools.

I am stunned that people are trumpeting javascript as a reasonable method for complex internet applications... what a friggin joke.

2005-05-24 08:45:46
an influx of amateurs
As a designer turned programmer, I have to agree with Tim on this. The fact that Flash can be used as a fairly simple timeline animation tool ("Freehand with tweening") OR as a compiler of java-ish classes OR as some unholy hybrid of the two makes it an accessible entry point into programming for many designers. I have reservations about the software (and it's makers) as well, but I know of nothing else quite like it in this respect.

Sure, an increase in the number of amateur programmers might be a headache for the pros, but in the long run greater literacy is always a good thing.

2005-05-31 05:51:36
Problems with Xamlon's GoogleMaps
"And maybe if you clicked on the link you would have noticed that the xamlon implementation is smoother than the original Google Maps."

Not for me. The Xamlon version is much slower, and much less smooth. It's close to unusable, in fact. Google maps is nice and snappy.

2006-05-31 15:06:11
I think it is goofy for anyone who claims to love Flash to rail on Ajax. I mean flash runs "on" javascript or ecma if you like. If you think about it Flash is to javascript, what Windows was to Dos. I love flash too, but ajax used carefully is a nice alternative.
2006-06-09 15:00:18
On the contrary, check out this all Flash prototype at: It reveals the possibilities of utilizing flash's animation-powerhouse capabilities compared to AJAX, without any AFLAX.
2006-06-09 15:17:55
re: dpsays, more than a year after the original post, I still have some issues with the prevaling wisdom of AJAX. Yes, it works, yes, it is essential for usability, but to say that it is goofy to criticize AJAX versus Flash because Flash uses ECMA, seems to miss the point entirely. Flash, for all of its warts, is a proven environment which everything all rolled up into a single deliverable. Most AJAX sites I've worked on recently have a total free-for-all of libraries - prototype, openrico, scriptaculous, mochikit, and fckeditor all deployed in at least two of these apps.

Firefox continues to keep on asking me if I'd like to "abort" script execution because someone somewhere has written run away JavaScript. After all is said and done, AJAX has made positive contributions, but the mechanics of the approach still feel kludgy.

On the other hand Flash 7 has something like 95% market penetration, it presents far less of a risk for testing a product on multiple platforms, and it is something that designers enjoy.

So, I guess there it is, having you done both? Have you done both extensively? Until you have, you'd know that Flash != AJAX and just because both use a variant of ECMA script doesn't mean that they are the same thing.