Is the Web better without JavaScript?

In today's open source roundup: Should you turn off JavaScript for a better Web? Plus: How to customize your GNOME 3 desktop. And understanding the new Google+

Is the Web better without JavaScript?

JavaScript has been a mixed blessing for the Web. It has helped provide some useful features, but it has also contributed to bloated, insecure and downright messy Web pages. One writer at Wired turned off JavaScript and shared his experience of a cleaner and lighter Web.

Klint Finley reports for Wired:

There’s another web out there, a better web hiding just below the surface of the one we surf from our phones and tablets and laptops every day. A web with no ads, no endlessly scrolling pages, and no annoying modal windows begging you to share the site on social media or sign up for a newsletter. The best part is that you don’t need a special browser extension or an invite-only app to access this alternate reality. All you need to do is change one little setting in your browser of choice. Just un-tick the checkbox that enables “JavaScript” and away you go, to a simpler, cleaner web.

JavaScript is a programming language that can run inside nearly all modern web browsers. In the early days of the web, the language was used to create simple scripts that did handy things, like check to make sure you filled out all the “required” fields on a form before you hit submit. But as Internet connections got faster and browsers got more sophisticated, JavaScript evolved into a tool for building all sorts of complex web-based apps. Some, like Google Docs, even rival desktop apps in size and functionality. The trouble is, when you visit a website, the JavaScript programs embedded on that site run automatically. It can be difficult to know exactly what some of those scripts actually do, leaving you vulnerable to pranks and malicious behavior.

But the most surprising thing is that most things just worked. And in many cases, worked better. Pages loaded nearly instantly, my laptop battery lasted longer, and I could browse the web with fewer distractions—all without the sense of guilt that comes with using an ad blocker. After all, I wasn’t actively trying to circumvent anything, the ad networks were simply failing to accomodate my browser settings.

As for me, I reluctantly turned JavaScript back on at the end of the week. The deal breaker was that turning off JavaScript broke a bunch of my favorite Google Chrome extensions. And besides, I like streaming video and interactive graphics as much as anyone. But the experiment left me longing for more control over what actually runs inside my browser. It showed me how unnecessary the clutter that’s been built up around the web really is, and just how easy it is to make it all go away.

More at Wired

Linux redditors shared their thoughts about the Web without JavaScript:

Dhdfdh: ”The title ignores what he says later, "there were problems". The problems are not javascript related. The problems are ad related and poor UI. If people would quit visiting sites like that, such as this one, such problems will go away when they learn their lesson.”

MeanEye: ”There is a place where JS plays a pretty important role. For example ecommerce is made a lot easier with use of JS. Imagine having to go to separate page to add item to cart, then having to go back and doing all this complex stuff. So from a point of view JS is a good thing to have, but not for ads, popups and other nasty things.”

Ntzm: ”So uBlock Origin + Disconnect to get rid of all the nasty JS. You don't need to nuke the functionality of a lot of websites.”

Sssam: ”The practical way of disabling unneeded javascript is NoScript. it lets you make a whitelist of domains where its actually needed.”

Benuk: ”Every time I use NoScript I end up getting pissed off after a few days of having to unblock everything every time I visit a different website and end up uninstalling it.”

Formegader: ”Now try browsing with Lynx only for a week, too. It's even better :)”

Dhdfdh: ”t's sad that many sites don't look at their own using Lynx, or other text-only browsers. My company does and it is indeed glorious cause you can still easily do everything from the keyboard. Such sites are fast and easy to navigate. However, most sites are created, nowadays, by people who only look at the pretty pictures and never heard of lynx, much less be able to open it.”

Donrhummy: ”Why does everyone think JavaScript is evil? JavaScript is just like everything else - it's perfectly fine until someone tries to use it in an evil manner. There are a lot of great uses for it.”

Defaultsource: ”It runs arbitrary code downloaded from the internet, with the ability to use local storage, make new internet connections, log keystrokes and mouse events, render full 3d accelerated web ads, and bugs in the interpreter can potentially compromise the host, what's not to hate about javascript?”

Bumblebeaver: ”I turned off JavaScript for a whole 5 minutes and it was glorious, but then I had to turn it on again to be able to comment on Reddit.”

More at Reddit

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