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vendredi 03 octobre 2003
par Denis Boudreau

Lettre ouverte au réseau SitePoint

voilà, je m'étais promis de le faire, chose promise, chose due. Pour ceux qui ne comprendrons pas de quoi je parle, prière de vous référer au billet du 14 septembre dernier intitulé "Opposer Flash au couple XHTML-CSS".

Opinion on SitePoint's editorial line as of late

Hi Georgina, I hope you're well.

I've been meaning to send this message for some time, but am only resorting to doing it now. I guess it's allright, it's only been bugging me for 3 weeks or so.

It all started when you published Mark Angeletti's article titled : "Flash Vs. CSS/HTML: Which Will You Choose?". I am having a hard time believing SitePoint went and published the article as is. Even if the author is obviously well-intentioned, he tries to establish a parallel between Flash and XHTML-CSS in order to determine which approach is the best to build a website. It really saddens me that such a pointless debate still finds hearing in 2003, especially when it's based on such weak arguments especially when most of them cover what the future holds, not what the technology can do today. Having published an article titled: "PC vs. Mac: Which Will You Choose?" would have been as relevant.

How could SitePoint publish an article on that subject without making sure it addressed the proper aspects of the question ? This article, to me and most of the people I know who've read it, is nothing more than a pointless debate over who prefers what, with a very light standpoint, while making extraordinary attemts at avoiding the real questions like usability and accessibility problems of Flash, or the fact that both choices have nothing to do with one another. Comparing these two types of technology was completely irrelevant and counter-productive. Let me explain.

The whole article lays on the fact that Flash is capable of doing things that pure XHTML combined with CSS could never do. It's as relevant as if someone wanted to publish an article on why Javascript is inferior to Java because you can't do as much with it. That would be totally beside the point of the technology and what they're made for and it's the same thing with Mark's article. If I were to write such an article on Javascript and Java, people would stop me quickly to tell me that I am not comparing the right technologies, that my comparison is unfair and that if I really wanted to compare Java with something, I should just as well compare it with .Net for example.

It's exactly the same thing with this article. Why hasn't the author compared Flash with it's real competitor the W3C standardized duo known as SMIL/SVG ? How can someone expect to draw parallels between Flash and XHMTL/CSS ? They have absolutely nothing in common. This should be a known fact.

Someone wanting to write on Flash's strenghts and weaknesses would be allright. Wanting to write about the interest of having or not an HTML version of an otherwise all-Flash site could also attract some positive attention and raise some awareness amongst the web community. Come to think of it, someone wanting to write whatever he or she feels is a good paper is already a good reason enough for them to go and write it. However, before it is published, someone, somewhere, should check out to see what's being written and if they want to stand by it as a publisher and a responsible platform of knowledge for developers worldwide. Obviously SitePoint did, and obviously, SitePoint shouldn't have.

I know SitePoint has a line or reviewers that go over every article to ensure quality. I know because I underwent the process last year. I find it quite disturbing that nobody at SitePoint raised a finger on this article to realize it was way beside the point.

All this article did was keep feeding the urban legend that Flash and XHTML/CSS could be compared, that they're two aspects of the same thing. They simply can't and sitePoint, in my opinion, should have known better. The article should have been about Flash and SVG/SMIL. This is what should have been kindly told to Mark. Or as is, the article should have mentionned something about it. That would have been something instructive. The simple fact that it wasn't even mentionned is breath-taking. What SitePoint published is an article about a strong misconception taken to the next level -- to the level of authority since it's been published on such a highly-regarded platform.

That did nothing to help promote the cause of web standards, a cause you also stand for and support.

Now I can't blame Mark for not knowing about this stuff. However, I can be disappointed in sitePoint for letting it slip by its reviewers and into it's publishing line. I sincerily hope this is not something that happens a lot because sooner or later, people will start realizing that something is wrong in the editorial choices SitePoint makes and your credibility will start to crumble. Now you don't want that and I don't want this either. You guys are doing an amazing job otherwise.

One thing for sure, this is not with that article that we will be able to promote the real important things about web development in 2003, such as portability of information, interoperability of documents and accessibility of contents, or simply the ability to compare the right technologies together. This article will never help anyone get a greater understanding of what the meaning of web development has evolved into.

Like I said, the article itself is probably meaningless. Bad articles are published everywhere everyday on the Web by people who simply don't know better and are well-intentionned all the same. However, coming from a serious and technologically-savvy team like sitePoint, this is terribly disturbing.

What I am fearing is that when a window as prestigious as yours publishes such a thing, most people will never question it's validity and will keep doing the same bad choices or ask themselves the same bad questions because they've just been told indirectly that it was the right thing to do. I truthfully hope it was just a slip, not something we will see more of in the future.

Respectfully yours and an otherwise happy sitePointer,

Denis Boudreau,
CYBERcodeur.net

Attendons de voir quelle sera la réponse maintenant.

Denis Boudreau | 2003.10.03 @ 16:50

Alors, qu'en pensez-vous ?

Voici ce que vous aviez à en dire... vos impressions, recueillies à vif.

2003.10.04 @ 02:19 par Darken

J'espère que que tu ne gouteras pas à la langue de bois quand tu recevras la réponse. Tes propos sont biens tenus et très explicatifs. Moi qui n'avais pas bien suivi le débat (je ne connaissais pas SitePoint) j'ai tout compris grâce à ta lettre ^^

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2003.10.04 @ 05:54 par Anubis

Encore une fois, tu m'as bluffé Denis... Si vous tu n'as rien à faire pour ces prochaines vingt années, je monte unr boîte, et je t'entage comme consultant ^^ !

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2003.10.04 @ 09:22 par CYBERcodeur

Ben, j'ai essayé d'être le plus diplomate possible, sans pour autant devoir m'excuser de leur reprocher quelque chose de grave à mon sens... S'ils me canardent pour ça, tant pis, ça m'en dira tant sur leur esprit.

Ceci dit, je crois plutôt qu'ils vont prendre mon commentaire avec sérieux et me retourner la réponse appropriée (que je publierai bien sûr ici). Au pire, que peuvent-ils faire ? Envoyer une horde de kangourous me briser les jambes ???

Et Anubis, si jamais tu vous ouvre ta boite, je serai ouvert aux propositions -- mon expérience de vie avec les Vincent est bonne jusqu'à présent ! ;)

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2003.10.04 @ 09:57 par Anubis

je nous suis désolé pour l'erreur de post ^^.

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2003.10.05 @ 11:51 par sylozof

C'est bien écrit. Je suis impatient de voir leur réponse...

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2003.10.05 @ 17:11 par CYBERcodeur

Et bien toujours pas de réponses pour le moment... Pourtant, nous sommes déjà demain matin chez les Australiens... faut dire qu'ils ont très certainement d'autres chats à fouetter plutot que de traiter la plainte d'un petit chieur francophone ! ;)

Je ne désespère pas. Tout de que j'espère (à part une réponse), c'est que ça ne blessera pas trop le pauvre type qui a rédigé l'article. :(

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