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2004 Jan 17 16:18

The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

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Re: [vox] A hypothetical question about the Web's dark underbelly
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Re: [vox] A hypothetical question about the Web's dark underbelly



On Sat, Jan 17, 2004 at 11:41:44AM -0800, Rod Roark wrote:
> On Saturday 17 January 2004 09:28 am, Richard S. Crawford wrote:
> > On Sat, 2004-01-17 at 02:13, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> > 
> > > Cleartext passwords.  Frames.  Javascript.  Bad.  Bad.  Bad.
> > 
> > I always feel like I need to defend myself when the flaws of our website
> > are pointed out.  Yes, I know cleartext passwords are bad.  And the
> > JavaScript.  And especially the frames....
> 
> Someone said: no generalization is worth a damn, including
> this one.
> 
> My site http://parlorplay.com/ uses all three.  I suppose
> there's a way to fix the passwords, but making a decent
> browser-based Java-free animated game without JavaScript and
> frames would be pretty tough.

I *hate* frames, and I'm not sure what their necessity to such a game
might be; unless you're talking IFRAME-type stuff.

As to JavaScript, it is an excellent tool, and very useful for a
variety of things: most notably, helping to keep users on the right
track with form entries, etc. (but *only* when done right helpful
feedback should never be accomplished by intrusive means, e.g. pop-up
modal dialog boxes--/ICK!/), instant page layout changes and content
updates, and even the accomplishment of interesting layout devices
that are not currently (but ought to) possible via CSS: I've seen some
pages that handled multi-column text in a very laudable fassion using
JS.

But you should never build sites with features *require* JavaScript,
unless the feature would not otherwise be possible/practical (e.g.,
your game): in particular, actual informative content, and forms
should never require JavaScript. Also, to be portable, JavaScript
should generally follow the portable subset of ECMAScript
(standardized) and the HTML DOM bindings wherever possible. Both of
these rules are ignored with extreme frequency, which is what colors
JavaScript as annoying. But the technology itself is not annoying: it
is how it is all-too-often applied. The same could be said, really, of
HTML and the way it is often (ab)used in web page development:
however, some aspects of this abuse are due to the fact that a certain
mainstream browser has dismal support of existing standards, and so
you cannot hope to produce portable sites which both adhere strictly
to the W3C's specifications and at the same time are visually
appealing--in a commercially useful sense, that is: I can produce
sites which meet both qualifications, but few people would pay for
'em. This conclusion bitterly reached after years of trying to make
the specs work 100% in "the real world." Still, my obsession with
doing things "the Right Way" keeps me as close as humanly
possible. There are many things which could be done with CSS (for
instance, the complete elimination of tables for laying out the page
design) if only MSIE's CSS support weren't broken in certain important
ways.

-- 
Micah J. Cowan
micah@cowan.name
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