The New A Canadian Perspective

Jan2109Jan 21, 09

I would like to publicly thank the Obama administration for being so in touch with the web and how to use it. The new website is absolutely perfect for its purpose - best of all, they used proper client-side technologies to present the content! I've never seen a government website use JavaScript appropriately, let alone do it well. The slideshow on this site is great, and I was extremely pleased to find that it was done without the use of Flash, which would have been severe overkill for the simplicity of that page component.

The effort put forth by the newly elected American government should serve as a major wake-up call to the Canadian government's online strategists. Using antiquated technologies like applets and Internet Explorer-specific scripts is not acceptable, and the web technologies in use today are not "new and untested", as seems to be the assumption of many of our government's web developers. Even if open-source software scares you, there is no reason to forfeit a pleasant user experience simply because the expertise of staff have aged beyond educational repair. To put this into perspective, even the brand new White House website still uses Microsoft's ASP for server-side processing.

People sometimes cast this type of plea off as yet another rant from the zealots of technology change. This is simply not the case on Jason Miller Design, evident by the little-known fact that I have never used jQuery, Mootools, or Extjs. There is something to be said for creating a User Interface from absolute scratch, regardless of the exact methods used for creating the final product. Some find it easier to code on top of libraries that abstract the complexity of a platform, while others actually enjoy the satisfaction of overcoming browser incompatibility and performance variance. Whatever the reason, the important point to be made is that there is a vast difference between choosing to use technology that is compatible and exists on all computing platforms, and choosing to use limited-scope technologies that bar entire groups of users from even using a service.

I invite your opinion in the comments, especially any Canadian visitors who have used some of the Government of Canada websites.

About Jason Miller:

I am a JavaScript developer from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. When I am not typing green code onto a black screen, you might find me at the nearest coffee pub checking out the brew. I run a internet firm called developIT and maintain blogs and web apps when I can.
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