How do you provide alternate content?
Many articles have been written on the best way to provide alternate content. The various methods have their pros and cons as always. I have my personal choices for which technique to use as I’m sure you do too. What I’d like to do is bring up the methods I’m currently using, and leave the floor open for critiques and suggestions based on your personal methods.
Flash: Unobtrusive Flash Objects and SWFObject
There has been much debate over time as to which method for including Flash is best. Andrew Kirkpatrick posted quite a lengthy writeup comparing various techniques that is worth a read. Of all the techniques, I lean towards Unobtrusive Flash Objects. I was first introduced to UFO by a co-worker some time ago, and personally think it’s the way to go when it comes to including a Flash piece into your website. UFO is best defined by its author:
UFO is a DOM script that detects the Flash plug-in and embeds Flash objects (files with the .swf extension). It has its roots in the Web Standards community and is designed to support W3C standards compliant, accessible and search engine friendly web design. It also contains several features and best practice techniques that other scripts currently don’t have. UFO is free, licensed under the CC-GNU LGPL and an Open Source Flash Project.
The UFO site offers a large amount of information regarding why you should use something like UFO over previous methods of including Flash in documents. It is an extremely comprehensive solution and in my opinion, the best one out there. Not only does the script detect the presence of Flash, you can designate which version of Flash your SWF is using as to not display a partially functioning Flash piece to your readers.
There’s also SWFObject (Formerly FlashObject)
Internet Explorer Benefits
Whether you decide to use UFO or SWFObject, the benefits for Internet Explorer alone should be quite desirable. As you probably know, Internet Explorer now provides what is referred to as an Active Content Update which is an invasive technique requiring a user to make an extra click in order to enable a variety of technologies, Flash being one of them. Both UFO and SWFObject act as ‘workarounds’ to this, and can provide a beneficial experience to your reader.
Fallbacks to the technique
As someone who works primarily in the Flash environment as a vocation, I am acutely aware of how important SWF injection is to a strong user experience. I myself am a fan of SWFObject, but funny enough, that may be because it was the first (good) SWF injector I was exposed to.
@P.J. Onori: Yeah, I think it would definitely come down to which you were exposed to first, UFO of SWFObject as far as preference goes, they’re both good to go.
I’m guilty of disowning Flash for quite a while — when I first embraced standards I was disgusted by Flash and all of the baggage it carried, but the fact of the matter is: there’s acceptable ways of implementing it. Clients are never going to get over Flash, it does things that no other technology can. It’s here to stay (just use it right). Thanks for stopping by, I can always count on you offering some honest, intelligent thought in response to the articles.
[…] It is very important to offer alternate content for everything, HTML email included. There is a significant probability that a large percentage of readers who are going to receive an email will have the option to display HTML disabled; not only for personal preference by many, but it’s also a common security precaution put into place in corporate environments. […]
[…] exactly was making the multitude of requests for SWF indexing. If you’re not well aware of effective ways to provide alternate content, who else are you going to blame when your client is asking why they don’t show up in any […]