Stay Away From In-Browser Scripting

We could very well have a split user community within a few years. And the basis for all this is in-browser scripting.

I keep saying it and I keep seeing more evidence to support my case.

We, as web developers, need to get away from using JavaScript ActionScript or any other sort of in-browser scripting.

At the very least the core functionality of a website should not rely on it. A user should not be required to support JavaScript to use your website.

Microsoft is starting to make a stink over the future of JavaScript. They are opposed to any major updates to the ECMAScript (the standard name for JavaScript) standard.

Some think this might be about Silverlight and Microsoft’s wish to gain more control over the web.

Stuck in the middle of this battle is any developer that relies on JavaScript for their website. What happens if Microsoft stays with their current version of JavaScript and no longer supports future changes to the standard? Then pages start to break in IE. But other pages start up uing Microsoft’s solution. Their pages will work great in IE and fail in other browsers.

The solution?

Don’t use any in-browser scripting. Then your pages work for everyone. Good old HTML and CSS 2.1. (CSS 3 too, sure, but it’ll take about 3 years after the first working draft is released).

Or

Or you simply decide that you don’t need to support all user bases. That you’re quite accepting of developing a website only usable through IE7. That’s a very real, very valid choice to make. No different than the choices billion dollar companies make when they release a game title exclusive to one gaming platform. And these companies are successful at it too (otherwise they wouldn’t be billion dollar companies to begin with).

I have to accept that alternative.

However my personal feeling is that we should be striving for compatibility and usability. That our job, as web developers, is to make access to information as easy as possible. We should open the doors to information, not close them. Some will claim that a given script or platform is required because there is no alternative to deliver their specific type of information.

In very specific cases this might be true.

But I’d say 90% of the time it’s lazyness or other hidden agenda that drive development in this proprietary direction (like Microsoft trying to force people to use their products).

If you let yourself be overcome then web development will become a confused and sticky place to be in 3-5 years from now.

But if you free yourself of these added burdens (javscript, flash, silverlight, java, ajax, webos, etc.) and stick to what works for everyone (html+css) you’ll be well off.

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One thought on “Stay Away From In-Browser Scripting

  1. I have to disagree. It’s the responsibility of both web developers and web surfers to not cave in to browser vendors. We could have stopped advancing 6 years ago when IE6 was full of CSS bugs. We could have said “Just use HTML/tables because CSS is not fully supported by everybody,” but we didn’t. People (including you) developed solutions that would work both on modern and older browsers. Sure, some of the hacks were ugly, but the end product was something that would work for as many people as possible, and that was the most important thing.

    I see scripting as a similar thing. Even as it stands now, scripting and the DOM is incredibly useful when used properly, and I don’t think it’s necessary to give it up just because the vendors won’t work together to support a standard.

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