After Years of Stewing, DHTML Might Be Ready

The last few weeks I've had the intuition that perhaps DHTML might be back in business. For years I considered it something I wouldn't touch; it was just too buggy and difficult to work with. Now, Google has announced GMail, which is basicly a DHTML app, and Yahoo has bought Oddpost, which is an extremely ambitious DHTML-based clone of Microsoft Outlook.

The question is now, can DHTML be used cross-browser and cross-platform? I'm not sure, but I am starting to evaluate it. I recently ran across the following interesting post, actually dated about a year ago: "No, this site is not done in Flash. Bet you had to right-click to prove me wrong though, huh? It was done with DHTML . Pretty impressive, eh? Even though I really don't know everything that went into the development, it seems like Flash would probably have been easier to develop with. I would just hate to have to deal with all the platform & old browser issues that developing in Flash avoids."

To test the cross-ability of that DHTML site (check it out, its quite impressive to have been written in DHTML), I ran it in the following browser versions and platforms, and it ran exactly the same and correctly:

  • FireFox 0.8 on Windows XP

  • Internet Explorer 6.0 on Windows XP

  • FireFox 0.9.1 on Mac OS X

  • Safari 1.2.2 on Mac OS X

  • Internet Explorer 5.2 on Mac OS X

I can't believe it actually worked! Can other folks try that site on other browser/platform combos to see if it worked? Post your experiences here as comments.

Also, even though DHTML might be ready for primetime, it is still a pain in the ass to work with, especially cross-browser CSS. Just because its possible doesn't mean it will be enjoyable. But, HTML itself has never been a joy to work with; its valuable because it actually works, with extra work, across the board. Perhaps DHTML is ready to gain the same status?