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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

JavaScript Off?

“How many people actually shut off JavaScript in their browsers? In the Web development world, you’re constantly advised not to depend on JavaScript because “[insert double-digit percentage here] of Web surfers shut off JavaScript.”

I have never known someone who shut off JavaScript. I have used a lot of computers in my life — many not my own — and never in one case have I noticed that JavaScript was intentionally disabled. I have never had anyone I know tell me that they shut off JavaScript to solve a problem. I have never even been remotely tempted to do this myself.”
– Gadgetopia, Going JavaScript-less?, February 18, 2004

The problem with pages relying on JavaScript is not the user disabling it, but the fact that JavaScript almost always breaks. HTML confronted with a variety of situations does well – a hand phone, the user doing funny things before the page finished loading, the user doing anything creative with the page, the user having an exotic, weird, or just plain new browser.

However JavaScript confronted with these situations quite simply breaks.

Depending on the web developer it can break nicely (a fallback is guaranteed) or it can get nasty. Most web developers rather script server-side than write a gazillion fallbacks. And even the big sites forget half of the workarounds necessary.* All this is my experience from full-time web development in the past years, or plain web surfing. And I also developed larger applications that were JS-based... but they run on an Intranet (even then, you never know when you want to switch your product target base from Intranet to Internet, selling to other clients as well).

*Even the big ones do it wrong, and they should have the ressources. Hotmail. Netscape homepage. I’ve seen all of them break, and these are just random samples – you’ll always get that little icon in the lower left of the browser, or you right-click a link to open it in a new window and the new window will have a JavaScript function in the address bar.

A second spin to all this is the fact that most of the time you are forced to do it on the server-side, because of security issues. If the thing could break if someone would disable JavaScript (e.g. critical form validation) then you must do it server-side. And why do it twice? That’s redundant.

Third: Google. Google (and other SEs) don’t understand JavaScript. They belong to every site’s most frequent visitors. So as usual, keep it simple!

FindForward With Your CSS

FindForward now has a new feature. Similar to this blog’s previous Search-CSS site, you can include a CSS parameter in any search, pointing to your own server and stylesheet. E.g. the stylesheet “Mars”:

Yahoo Drops Google

The search wars officially began today with the first shot fired: search giant Yahoo is not showing Google-powered results anymore.

“In a surprising move, Yahoo isn’t replacing Google with Inktomi. Rather, the company has developed a brand new search engine, drawing on the lessons learned from what the company calls the “critical mass” of search engineering talent that it has brought together through hiring and acquisitions, as well as investment in infrastructure and product quality.”
– Chris Sherman, Yahoo! Birth of a New Machine (SearchEngineWatch), February 18, 2004

The German Spiegel Online reports (my translation):

“First tries with the new Yahoo! search shows mixed results. Popular keywords are covered without problems, similar to what Google offers. But as soon as you tap more exotic fields results are clearly different. At the moment Yahoo! seems to focus on historical rather than recent pages, digging through very old parts of the Web. This may be due to the limited index. Yahoo! is not telling how big it is – but well, it’s still growing.”
– Frank Patalong, Bye Bye Google - Yahoo! versucht den Alleingang (Spiegel Online)

Note that when there’s a blog showing in the results (like mine when searching for Google Blog), you can see [View as XML] and [Add to My Yahoo!] links.


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