Ordering from Amazon the using Flow Browser

Being a big fan of online shopping, I’ve been keen to see when Flow could successfully complete a transaction on amazon.co.uk. It’s fair to say that online shopping is not a target use case for Flow, so I wasn’t going to get any engineering time dedicated to this; instead I was relying upon the product’s ongoing development to do the job for me.

When I first tried the site over a year ago, Flow’s lack of HTML form support made it unusable, and there were a few rendering issues. Over time, development not specifically targeted on Amazon has largely fixed these issues. Towards the middle of last year, the opening screen was looking pretty good, but the inability to search or login meant the site still wasn’t fully usable.

Once limited form support was added to Flow it was possible to search for items and successfully place them into a shopping basket, but login still didn’t work. At the end of the Amazon login process there is a permanent redirect (HTTP 308) and Flow wasn’t dealing with it correctly.

All the login info could be entered but when you clicked Sign-In, Flow displayed a 308 error page rather than the Amazon home page. Manually reloading following the error page took me to the Amazon home page where I was surprised to see that I was signed in. It therefore appeared that the whole login process was getting tripped up at the last stage.

As soon as I knew our engineers had succeeded in getting Gmail working in Flow, I decided to re-check Amazon. It turned out they had encountered a similar problem with the Gmail login process. Flow was failing to send the HTTP POST data in the follow up request after the 308 response and so when they fixed that, the Amazon login process also completed correctly.

To celebrate this achievement, even though no one had actually focused their attention on making Amazon work, I used Flow to buy a big bag of sweets from Amazon for the team to share – not healthy, but fun.

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