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Now, in this day and age, logically the solution would be Flash.
The problem is I have no idea how to develop a flash module which means I have to hire someone to do it which will subsequently mean having to fill out a bunch of paperwork and funnelling all future modifications and upgrades through this developer (not to mention having to purchase flash just for this project).
Being an experience Java developer myself it wouldn't be too difficult for me to knock up an applet that does pretty much the same thing.
However, it seems to me that nobody actually uses applets anymore these days. Would it be a bad idea for me to go the applet path?
Sorry if this is in the wrong forum. I wasn't sure where else to put it.
The same cannot be said of Java, and that is where the problem lies.
I need to have some kind of semi-interactive graphics on my site..... which means I have to hire someone to do it which will subsequently mean .... funnelling all future modifications and upgrades through this developer (not to mention having to purchase flash just for this project).
A couple of false assumptions here.
First, one of the primary uses of Flash is the ability to import external data. I'm not sure what you need for "interactive graphics" but let's take a slide show, or even a video player, for example.
A Flash slide show/video player consists of three major components: the Flash object itself, a directory where the graphics/video are stored, and a plain text XML file that contains various data about the slide show or video. Some examples would be the graphic file name, a caption, and maybe descriptive text.
When the Flash loads, it reads in the XML file, obtains the information needed for the video player/slide show - which can vary in length - and executes accordingly. So if built properly, you only need to upload files to the proper location and learn how to edit the XML file. You would never need to edit the Flash in this scenario, hence, you would never need Flash.
A caveat: you might need to encode standard video formats into .flv, or resize images correctly for a slide show, but a good programmer can even solve this without you having to do it manually. Using perl or PHP, they could add programming that auto sizes the images or encodes the video for you on upload. PM for a working example, we aren't allowed to post URL's here.
Second, if you *really* need or want to work with Flash directly, there is an open source solution that many people use called Swish. I've never used it because I have CS3, but the comments here seem very positive.
Overall, if you were looking at Java, implementing the same or a similar solution in Java would present as many or more difficulties as a Flash approach, it's a bit more difficult to learn.
The growing base of broadband is obviating the need to look at speed for dialup users, but still remains a minor consideration.
Also, coming up, and has a growing audience, is Silverlight which, in NET environments appears to be far more usable and easier to develop than Flash.
Then again, those who turn off Java tend to turn off flash and silverlight as well.
Just some talking points. Making no suggestions, nor do I have answers. Sorry!