Progressive Enhancement with Flash

ActionScript 2.0 ActionScript 3.0 Flash

One of the main tenets of good Web design is the principle of progressive enhancement.  In general, the idea goes like this:  make sure the user can access a web site’s essential content regardless of browser.  It shouldn’t matter whether the user visits your site with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Netscape, or pick your favorite flavor.  In fact, the site’s content should be accessible even without JavaScript or peripheral plugins like Flash Player.  Once the basics are covered, use CSS to enhance the visual design.  Then, and only then, introduce the whizz-bang stuff — nifty rollovers, AJAX interactivity, Flash — and do it in a way that doesn’t penalize users who don’t have (or choose to disable) the needed machinery.

Sound pretty neat?  I’ve seen a few examples of this online and at conferences, so I delved into this topic myself to see how much fun it might be.  Turns out it can be somewhat challenging, but definitely fun to see the results.  I put together an example in order to explore the basic mechanics of this form of progressive enhancement — a slideshow SWF that takes its cue from the HTML in which it appears — and turned it into a three-part series on  The first part is free and covers how to get the HTML from the Web page itself into the SWF.  The follow-up articles go into how to parse that HTML in AS2 and AS3.  CommunityMX offers free trial memberships, so if you aren’t interested in becoming a subscriber, you can wait until the follow-up that interests you gets posted (not sure yet when that will be), then sign up for the trial membership.  Of course, if you want to subscribe, that would be cool too!

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