Hello Speed, Beauty & Brains – Goodbye Alexa
This is a pretty fundamental shift for us, and while I don’t want to give us too much credit, I really think it’s the beginning of a sea change on the web. There have been plenty of apps which launched with 100% AJAX, like GMail, but I can’t think of any that have yet made the plunge to change an existing, entrenched product with lots of users. I’m sure there have been a few, so forgive me if I overlooked you, but certainly not many – most of the big apps are still HTML driven. But I believe that’s going to change because the customer experience just gets so much better.
Everyone is going to do this. The only question is when? (Ok, two questions: And who will be left behind?)
The benefits of this release are obvious: the interface is faster, prettier, and smarter. But the pitfalls are less obvious. Here are a few of the biggies:
- Backwards compatiblity. We built our URLs from day one to be “permalinks” so they wouldn’t change if you used them in your blog and forum posts. We had to make sure that things still worked going forward.
- AJAX Permalinks. Now we needed new permalinks that describe various pieces of data for browsing SmugMug, but we also needed to keep them short so people could copy & paste easily, so they wouldn’t wrap in emails, etc.
- Browser interfaces. People expect the Back & Forward buttons to work properly, along with History and Bookmarks. Doing so in all three major browsers was thought to be impossible, and we failed many times. We solved this one, and this was the last biggie. I believe it’s an internet first. Jimmy will be updating his blog about exactly how we do it so anyone else can follow suit. It’s good for the web as a whole for this stuff to move forward.
It was an amazing team effort over here to get this thing done, including tons of our customers. GreenJimmy, our resident Web Superhero, especially drove this project long and hard. Hopefully we can talk more about what we did, technically, so others can avoid making the same mistakes we did.
Enjoy the release, and just wait to see what we’ve got coming next….🙂