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I completely agree that other approaches will be appropriate for certain types of site. But I think one of the things that developers keep missing about a lot of approaches that get suggested as solutions is who actually supplies content for websites.
It is rare that the people putting the content in are web developers. They don’t have the knowledge that we do, and CMS’s are not geared to this. Can you imagine trying to teach a regular Joe working at a magazine, or council administration, or the local school, that in order to put one picture into an article they have to upload three or four pictures, and then code the image tag using three or four (to them) weird text strings?
One of the major advantages of the AI approach is that none of that is an issue. You don’t need to do any of that because the process is entirely automated, and better yet are generated only on demand. If no-one ever visits My Big Fat Article using a mobile phone, then the mobile resolution versions of the images are never generated. But if someone does, boom – they’re there.
And while there are definately aspects of AI that I don’t like (the fact that the image URL may deliver one of any number of scaled images being my biggest bug-bear), I can’t see the mark-up solutions being practical for non-developers, and the idea that we just supply a tiny 1px GIF for all images until some JS is run feels even worse.
At least with the AI approach the semantic value of the image is retained. All it is really doing is delivering different scaled versions of the same thing.
What’s so interesting to me isn’t so much the flaws that all current solutions have, but the fact that it’s so difficult to come up with an ideal solution at all. I remain convinced that it has to be a two-fold solution, one server side and one client side. Because they solve different issues, despite seeming at first glance to be doing the same job.