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"Disable Javascript" option removed in Firefox 23 (mozilla.org)
445 points by joallard 1154 days ago | hide | past | web | 365 comments | favorite



Here's a very relevant blog post by Alex Limi of Mozilla: http://limi.net/checkboxes-that-kill/

Most sites these days that aren’t just displaying content will fail in interesting & mysterious ways if you don’t have JavaScript enabled. For the general population, Firefox will appear broken.

And yes, I know that some people have reasons (privacy, web development) to turn off JavaScript. There are many add-ons that can help with this — but it’s not something that we should ship to hundreds of millions of users.

(EDIT: this is the relevant quote, but worth reading the whole article)


I have to say that this article is actually quite terrible, as is the opinion that any option that might ever be confusing to a user is an option that shouldn't ship with the product. The thesis of the article is:

"Well, we have met the enemy, and he is us.* In the currently shipping version, Firefox ships with many options that will render the browser unusable to most people, right in the main settings ui."

The solutions offered? Kill it all with fire. I'm paraphrasing, of course.

Problem: People today change some feature then have a "broken" browser (basically, they forgot to turn it back to the default, or they didn't realize they changed it in the first place).

Solution: reset button, also notification to the user that "this page might not work correctly", some sort of an extension of how Chrome shows you that a popup and/or a cookie was blocked, based on your settings. Don't treat your users like idiots, just provide information that clears up certain odd states by explicitly informing them of something like:

"The webpage you are viewing may not work correctly because the following options differ from their default values:

1. Enable automatic loading of images. 2. Enable JavaScript.

These features of Firefox are essential for most webpages to run properly. If the webpage you are trying to access is behaving strangely or appears to be working incorrectly, <click here> to load the page with the default browser configuration."

Done, and done. No removing useful features from the browser, no treating users like morons, but now I have a new, useful, awesome, self-debugging feature which is user friendly, and doesn't require a pesky IT guru's assistance navigating the sea of 10 trillion options.


This was true 10 years ago. These days, every additional setting the application has is a liability. There is a growing group of people, who are scared to have conversation with their browser and make any informed decisions. They ignore such messages. Other people will change any setting they can find and then forget about it. Then they will be surprised and angry at the application that it is not working.

My experience shows that the more options an application has, the lazier the author was. What do you do as a software developer when there are two ways how to solve a problem? Ask the user which way to use? That is the wrong approach these days. The computer should not ask the user stupid questions. "Do you want to enable JavaScript?" is a stupid question for more than 98% of browser users. Instead of asking questions, software developers should invest the work to come with answers and "read the user's mind". Successful apps can do just that.


"Do you want to disable JavaScript?" is a stupid question, as you say. "Do you want your browser to tell Google, Facebook, Twitter, Omniture, DoubleClick, and six other companies you have never heard of, that you visited this site?" is not a dumb question. Given that option, 98% of users would say "hell no."

You are absolutely right that configurability is a sign of laziness, the opposite of hard work. But removing configurability is _not_ the sign of hard work. Hard work means addressing the interests of all parties, and Mozilla did not do that.

Why do those 2% of users disable JavaScript? It's in reaction to how JavaScript is used: it enables popups, enables distracting advertisements, lets all sorts of companies track me, makes sites load more slowly, etc. For this 2%, these uses are so odious as to outweigh the beneficial uses of JavaScript. So the hard work would be finding a way to distinguish between the user-friendly and user-hostile uses of JavaScript, and just disable the user-hostile ones, so that the interests of both classes of users would be satisfied.

This would not be new: Firefox's popup blocker is enabled by default, which demonstrates that JavaScript is already disabled for a particular use case, because it proved to be annoying to users. Why not take that a step further? If Mozilla wants to force JavaScript on, they should also address the reasons why that 2% of users go out of their way to disable it today. If those 2% say "I used to disable JavaScript, but now I don't have to" then Mozilla will have done their job.


"Do you want to disable JavaScript?" is a stupid question, as you say. "Do you want your browser to tell Google, Facebook, Twitter, Omniture, DoubleClick, and six other companies you have never heard of, that you visited this site?" is not a dumb question. Given that option, 98% of users would say "hell no."

Assuming you're correct (which I'm not convinced you are), when you then continue, "I have a checkbox that will make it so they don't track you, but it will also break those sites. Is that ok?" They will also respond "hello no".

Firefox's popup blocker is enabled by default, which demonstrates that JavaScript is already disabled for a particular use case, because it proved to be annoying to users. Why not take that a step further?

Right, because you can easily say that a non-user-triggered window.open() is almost always unwanted. I can't think of any other cases where it's so clear-cut and related to JS, or that disabling a particular facet of JS always would be a net win.

If you're going to claim that there's something like that, provide examples. How do you know people at Mozilla haven't already thought hard about this problem and decided there isn't much more they can do? I bet they have.


> "Do you want to disable JavaScript?" is a stupid question, as you say. "Do you want your browser to tell Google, Facebook, Twitter, Omniture, DoubleClick, and six other companies you have never heard of, that you visited this site?" is not a dumb question. Given that option, 98% of users would say "hell no." -> This overstates the case, because you'd still presumably load the 1x1 tracking png with ?resid=<X>&uid=<Y>.

> "I have a checkbox that will make it so they don't track you, but it will also break those sites. Is that ok?" They will also respond "hello no".

This overstates the case most of the time because doing this generally breaks relatively little for those domains listed, and to the extent it doesn't, making that decision on a domain-by-domain basis seems to work pretty well (ask any Noscript user)


Sending browsing statistics to something like Google is already happening regardless of if you have Javascript enabled. When you are on Google search and you click on a link it's tracked that you went to that link.

But besides that and besides that your usage statistics are being logged on the server itself regardless of what you do. Expecting Mozilla or any company to figure out how to block a javascript put request sent to Facebook, but not other put requests which are there by design of the site will only result in Facebook finding a workaround.

It's unfortunate that some people use Javascript in ways that slow down their site. For example with horrendous 'sharing' widgets. You can use plugins to disable those items from loading but it wouldn't be Mozilla's place to decide that on everyone's behalf.

These days Javascript is as much a part of websites as the HTML itself.


> When you are on Google search and you click on a link it's tracked that you went to that link.

Google also tracks the links I click when I am on CNN, ABC News, Fox News, MSN, LinkedIn, and the majority of sites I visit (with the important exceptions of Wikipedia and BBC News - thanks guys!). Advertisers track me when I am not even on their properties! That is what is objectionable, and what is defeated by disabling JavaScript.

> Expecting Mozilla or any company to figure out how to block a javascript put request sent to Facebook, but not other put requests which are there by design of the site will only result in Facebook finding a workaround.

Perhaps, but Mozilla should do it anyways.

Remember the ruckus over IE 10 enabling Do Not Track by default? Advertisers and ad brokers were “very concerned”[1] by even the whiff of a browser maker acting in the interest of users over advertisers. Do Not Track is only tolerable if it is off by default, wholly unenforceable, and just as buried as the “Enable JavaScript” option.

Make no mistake: advertisers believe that they have a right to know what links you click and sites you visit across the whole web, and even a right to enlist your browser to aid in informing them. And Mozilla is complicit!

(And why not? Recall who pays Mozilla’s bills.)

> These days Javascript is as much a part of websites as the HTML itself.

Yes, which means that those few who disable JavaScript pay a significant price for that decision. Nobody disables JavaScript because they hate the language. They do it to escape user-hostile JavaScript programs.

[1] http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120531006914/en/Digi...


Disabling Javascript for privacy reasons is like blowing off your leg to prevent tennis elbow: it's overkill, and it's rather ineffective at best.


It's ineffective in the sense that it doesn't stop all of the evil. It IS effective in the sense that running no javascript really limits the amount of information people can learn about your system. Like, why should a website be able to learn about the size of my screen, the complete enumeration of all of my plugins and fonts, etc?

As far as blowing off your leg, sometimes you just really hate tennis elbow, you know?


Is that sarcasm? You should know, that doesn't really work here unless explicitly noted as such. See Poe's law.


If you arrived faster at a citation of Poe's Law than actually reading and considering the things I said, you are doing Internet wrong.


I did read them, and I did consider them. After thinking up a reply as why you think basic client display capability querying mechanisms are inappropriate, I decided you were most likely being sarcastic.

On (multiple) repeated readings, I'm not really sure you were intending to make a point one way or the other. If I attribute the second sentence of It IS effective in the sense that running no javascript really limits the amount of information people can learn about your system. Like, why should a website be able to learn about the size of my screen, the complete enumeration of all of my plugins and fonts, etc? to your voice, then it seems you are. If that's to be taken as the user's voice as rationale as to why JS doesn't need to be enabled, then it's fairly neutral.

At this point, with your reply taken into consideration, I'm confused. Feel free to elaborate.

> If ... you are doing Internet wrong

Well, my first sentence was actually asking you, since I wasn't sure.


Correct. I'm being completely serious, with the exception of the remark about exploding limbs (obviously).

Broad enumeration capabilities of this sort don't make sense. You don't need me to tell you why, because the moment you considered these features not existing, you immediately thought up alternatives that didn't involve running javascript, some of which require changes in the way people think about building web-pages, some of which may require changes in various specifications.

JS has more features than it deserves for learning about and (critically) sharing information about the host platform. Yes, you can still learn some things as a website operator by watching what browsers load/don't load, and what they put in their requests.

That does not mean that disabling javascript doesn't have value w/r to privacy concerns. Compare panopticlick.eff.org w/, w/o javascript enabled.

Edit: I should hasten to add that there are other concerns beyond privacy, like accessibility and the fact that a web page has no bloody business deciding that I'm likely running an iPad and therefor I shouldn't have access to X or Y. This is dumb, and contrary to the idea of the open internet. It's the same thing that's wrong with this EME nonsense.


Ah, I took your position as being able to determine screen size (or have it determined automatically through CSS or some other hands-off mechanism) itself was also unneeded, not just that JS should not have this capability.

I can get behind most of what you say - as long as we are talking about simple, presentation based websites.

Where I think there's a breakdown in this view is when you consider complex web applications, including games. At that point, I believe some level of inspection capabilities are required, if we desire to have complex web apps delivered through the internet. I'm by no means sold that on-demand web delivered code is necessarily a good thing though. There's far too large a surface area to adequately secure while still making it useful, IMHO.


Ghostery is a much better option for blocking trackers without breaking websites. If you're really paranoid, RequestPolicy lets you specify a whitelist of OK domains, and disable everything else. Both of those still allow javascript and do a 8better* job protecting your privacy, from tracking pixels etc.


"These days, every additional setting the application has is a liability."

If we follow this thinking too far, we end up with a closed console like device, or Gnome 4 as parodied last April [1].

Surely there is a case for progressive revealing/enabling of advanced functions?

In the UK, the Blackberry phones are very popular with teenagers because of BBM. This desire to access BBM even extends to students carrying two phones, one an old blackberry handset on wifi and the other an iPhone or whatever. You will find small groups in corners at lunchtime exploring the features of the handsets. Experts will coach those who know less. If I could get that level of peer tutoring going in Maths, I'd have my OBE in the bag quite soon! Users can increase their knowledge provided the unfolding of extra features is managed.

[1] http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20120402


I don't think Gnome is a relevant example. They don't support adding functionality back that they've taken out, whereas Firefox users are encouraged to add all the functions they want via extensions.

The downside of progressive functions in the base install is that the core Firefox team would have to support all the functions.


Removing options is NOT the way to go. If anything, there should be more options, until computers understand natural language.

To be most intuitive to use, computers should converse like a human. Humans have LOTS of options, and everyone understands that. E.g. if I ask a human to make a sandwich, I can specify all the ingredients I want, how and when I want it, and so on.

The ideal computer, too, would adjust its software to my preference. E.g. if I can, using natural language, explain the computer that I want JavaScript disabled, it can figure out what that means and what in the source code or flags of Firefox it has to change for me to have that disabled. Or if I tell it I want a big refresh button in the center of the screen, it can improvise and render one for me.

Far future of course, but that is the most intuitive end goal of computers: you ask them what you want in natural language, they understand and provide it.

For now, because the above does not yet work, please provide options. Fortunately Firefox provides many options for those who need them: about:config. I find it really awesome if you can adjust an application to your needs at such fine grained level.


I think your sandwich analogy is spot on in the sense that I can also just ask a human "please make me a sandwich" without specifying anything, and (most) humans could proceed to do so without more details. There should be more options, and a good "default" mode for people who don't want to fiddle with them. To my knowledge this is why most wizards have basic configuration options and a "advanced" button to click for the detailed configuration, and I don't see why Firefox can't just have the same thing.


The wizards can use about:config or download the addons that do this already.

Adding more in the way you prescribe isn't just adding more, but officially supporting more at the code level and user level.


<i> can also just ask a human "please make me a sandwich" without specifying anything, and (most) humans could proceed to do so without more details</i>

Depends who you ask. My mate and a few close friends would know to make me a sandwich without bread, but hardly anyone else would get that right.


I would give you a plate with ham, cheese, salad, egg, tomato and mayonnaise. Does that sound about right?


> There is a growing group of people, who are scared to have conversation with their browser and make any informed decisions.

Why would scared people even open the settings dialog?


Because some help desk told them to. The other day chase manhattan was down with a full on 500 server fucked up. Their twitter account responded to me telling me to clear my cache and delete my cookies. Classic.

A naive user would then open settings in an emotional and annoyed state and would turn off anything that caused an emotional response of fear. JavaScript, Ive heard of that and I don't like it so kill it stupid thing computers are so frustrating they never work. Click

And now your browser is broken.


Sorry to be blunt, but it's clear you have never had to design or support a user-facing product. Anyone who has done either of these things will disagree with your base assumptions, ie. that users care about understanding their software, that they read warning texts, and that they don't mindlessly flip switches when trying to achieve unrelated goals.


Those are terrible solutions, though. If a user has turned off JavaScript, there are basically two possibilities: if they turned it off accidentally, your solution will (in the best case scenario, where they understand the popup and realise they should click the reset button) temporarily break their browser and then fix it again; better then breaking it permanently, but not as good as not breaking it in the first place. On the other hand, if they turned JavaScript off intentionally, your solution will continually bother them asking them whether they want to turn JavaScript back on again. So your proposed solution actually works for no users at all.


Why not just put it in the about:config page for FF? Casual users are unlikely to accidentially access this page as there is no GUI navigation to it.

Though most casual users I know avoid GUI configuration all the same, so I don't really see the issue here.


It is, but the bug report in the OP is raging against it being there.


UI discussion aside, changing the option on upgrade seems a little... impolite, to say the least.


That's the point that seems to be missed in the discussion: sure, let Mozilla shuffle options where they want, hopefully with some thought; but don't change the user's configuration. If you feel that it's absolutely necessary to do so, then pop up a big banner saying "We want to change your settings. May we?" To do otherwise is bordering-on-crapware-tactics rude.


> Don't treat your users like idiots, just provide information that clears up certain odd states by explicitly informing them of something like

you assume that users actually read dialogs presented by the software. This is unfortunately not a correct assumption.


> Problem: People today change some feature then have a "broken" browser They forgot what is changed, how to return back, no reset is not a solution. Solution: Educate users, provide "Undo" and "Redo" buttons, highlight changed controls


I am not planning on implementing that, but let's pretend I want to. When would that dialog come up?

Attempt #1: show that dialog as soon as a page tries to load some JavaScript. Result (I'm guessing): dialog shows up on 99.9% of all web pages one visits (even for the nerdiest of nerds)

Attempt #2: silently download the JavaScript to figure out whether it is 'benign' or 'evil'. Result: users complain that they pay for downloading stuff they do not want.

Attempt #3: make that dialog less intrusive; do not require acknowledgment. Result: users get trained to overlook it; users who accidentally enable the mode will never figure out what happened to their browser.

Attempt #4: a whitelist of allowed scripts. Problem: users will disagree about what should make it into the whitelist.

Attempt #5: the JSBlock extension. This may have merit. So, if you want this feature, download it, or write it if it doesn't exist yet. If the API does not allow writing it, bicker Mozilla.


Understand that no dialog is necessary for such an idea to be implemented at all.

Observe:

  <noscript>
    The webpage you are viewing may 
    not work correctly because the following 
    options differ from their default values:

    1. Enable automatic loading of images. 
    2. Enable JavaScript.

    These features of Firefox are essential 
    for most webpages to run properly. If the 
    webpage you are trying to access is behaving 
    strangely or appears to be working incorrectly, 
    <a href="">click here</a> to load the page 
    with the default browser configuration.
  </noscript>


1. who would insert that fragment in a page (and where, but let's ignore that)? I don't think you can expect sites to do it to make their site work with users who have JavaScript disabled (target audience is too small), so the browser must do it. How is the browser going to figure out whether to insert it?

Also: how is that not a dialog? It presents a message to the user, and waits for a reply.

I still think 'no JavaScript' is a niche feature that is best delegated to an extension that sports a whitelist or a blacklist of scripts to allow/forbid. A variation on Adblock would work fine (maybe, Adblock already can be used to blacklist JavaScript. If so, it is a matter of tweaking its UI)


> Don't treat your users like idiots That is exactly what Mozilla is doing , pushing down Javascript on everybody's throat. And marketing teams and advertisers are loving it. So much for their "dont track" stunt.


Is there any empirical evidence that suggests that people accidentally disabling JavaScript and then being confused as to why websites don't look right is a significant problem?

The author of that article says: "Is it really worth having a preference panel that benefits fewer than 2% of users overall? — obvious spoiler alert: The answer is no."

The answer is yes. If 2% of users have a purpose for it, perhaps it wouldn't have been high up on the priority list to implement as a new feature, but it's already there, and removing it requires extra work. Is it really worth removing features from an application to deal with some hypothetical problem that's been posited under the assumption that most users are idiots?

If there really is a problem, it may be worthwhile to move it to an "advanced settings" panel, but removing it entirely is a terrible idea.

It's worth noting that Chrome - a browser that's far less configurable and customizable than Firefox, overall - not only offers the ability to disable JavaScript globally, but has it as an option in the domain-specific permissions menu.


I don't know of any empirical evidence, but the story normally goes: There is a new Java exploit, and recommendations to remove/disable Java hit the wild. Then while people try to find out how to disable "Java" Find "Disable Javascript" and assume it's related. Perhaps this would be solved by renaming it "Disable Ecmascript" however.

I really have no idea how common this is, but have seen it once, from a user that's technically savy enough to be diging in options and worried about security, but not savy enough to know the difference between Java and Javascript.


Well, an extra phrase might be added in the menu where 'Disable Javascript' appears - '(Note: Javascript is not same as Java)'. If users don't know the difference between Diesel and Gasoline, better option is to educate them in context (e.g. handle of fuel pump) rather than closing down all Diesel pumps.


If people don't know the difference between diesel and gasoline, is a note that says "Note: Diesel is not the same as Gasoline" going to help? Doubt it.

The assertion is that 'configuration creep' is overwhelming for the unsophisticated user in the first place, adding even more notes and explanations to all the configuration options is not going to help.


>If people don't know the difference between diesel and gasoline, is a note that says "Note: Diesel is not the same as Gasoline" going to help? Doubt it.

Really? I would think that sign would help everyone who knew how to read, bothered to read, and wanted their car to run. A sign with a simple message like that was enough to fix one national timeclock system that I worked on. "Do not do X before 12:00 Noon unless Y." in English, Spanish, and Polish.

For the people who still messed it up that we found by using heuristics on all of the punch data, we sent reports to their managers that said that they had probably done something wrong. After 3 or 4 cycles of this, the failure rate went from 15-20% to 1-2%.

Unsophisticated users remain unsophisticated users if you systematically remove configuration until the application only does one thing one way, badly.


If they don't know the difference between diesel and gasoline, how do they know if the one they want is "diesel" or "gasoline"?

But, yes, clearly, the goal is removing configuration until the app does one thing well, not badly.


Only if you want 9000 apps, because then it becomes a question of which of those super narrowly focused apps will work to do what you want to do. An email client that only emails your mother is a good emailing your mother client, but a bad email client. If they take away configuration for people with stepmothers or two mothers, because it's only a 5% use case, it's even a bad emailing your mother client.

If you know your car runs on gasoline, and you don't know the difference between gasoline and diesel, then you see a sign that says "diesel is not gasoline," you know that diesel is not what you're looking for - even though you still don't know the difference.


I doubt anyone makes the diesel-gasoline mistake more than once. Browsing to a broken or insecure site (never mind that the brokenness or insecurity is due to javascript being off and on respectively), however, is done all the time.


It's a shame that they didn't push "ecmascript" as the name ~15 years ago back when it was new. Now we're stuck with problems like this...


It wasn't an accident—they wanted to appear similar to Java (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JavaScript#Birth_at_Netscape):

> The final choice of name caused confusion, giving the impression that the language was a spin-off of the Java programming language, and the choice has been characterized by many as a marketing ploy by Netscape to give JavaScript the cachet of what was then the hot new web programming language.


Or make the option to disable Java accessible from there.


You want to add an option to disable a particular browser plugin in the core browser options? That doesn't seem like a good idea.


> If there really is a problem, it may be worthwhile to move it to an "advanced settings" panel, but removing it entirely is a terrible idea.

Is this not the equivalent of 'about:config'? In reality it is the advanced settings panel, just without the pretty dialog to go with it.


But about:config voids my warranty.


Then ask for a refund.


Is there any empirical evidence that the use of AdBlock + Ghostery or WOT or whatever privacy addons you're already using are any less secure than disabling JavaScript outright?

Disabling JavaScript has a few MAJOR disadvantages to proper web usage:

1. As the blog post has said, many web sites will fail in mysterious and unexpected ways. Some web apps may be rendered completely useless. In fact, you might as well just say goodbye to the modern web if you're gonna totally disable JS.

2. Since it's a "blanket fix", disabling JavaScript is a silly way to protect yourself from data miners. Instead, why not use an extension that has been proven to work, is actually available cross-browser, and gives you MUCH finer-grained control over what is displayed?

3. Since JavaScript is not the only thing that could potentially fuck up your web experience, disabling JavaScript doesn't even fix every problem related to privacy! You'd really have to disable JS, disable all plugins (Flash, Silverlight, Java, etc.), and pretty much block yourself out from a lot of the modern web just to be truly secure. At that point, you're really isolating yourself from a lot of the web's rich media, and doing so in spite of the plethora of tools available to combat the stealth data mining practices that these companies use.

Use AdBlock. Use Web Of Trust (WOT). Use Ghostery. At least know when sites are tracking you, and disable those tracking bugs when you see them. You don't need to turn off JavaScript and isolate yourself from an entire ecosystem of awesome, just to maintain control over what data you're sending out about yourself. The idea of turning off JavaScript has always been a silly concept to me, and I felt was simply there to please the more paranoid of us. But there has to be a time to face reality: It just doesn't work.


Ghostery has recently been found to be selling user data. ISTR there was a similar incident with AdBlock? I don't want to have to trust some random extension author to have got these things right.


I hadn't heard about Ghostery selling data. I read about the story at Mashable [1].

[1] http://mashable.com/2013/06/17/ad-blocker-helps-ad-industry/


AdBlock Plus started allowing some advertising they deemed "non-intrusive". This was a default setting and easily toggled in the settings, but there was still a big backlash.


I run with Javascript off, via no-script. Most of the stuff that requires Javascript is tracking based and/or from third party domains.

tbh a global Javascript toggle is a bit useless. You really need the fine grain per-domain settings of No-script to navigate the modern web.


"Advanced settings" dialogs tend to indicate poorly-thought-out interface design.

Rather than demonstrating careful attention to what features are useful and important enough to ship, they become dumping grounds for "something someone asked for once".


So well thought out interface design is ignoring subsets of users and unifying everyone to one common set of behavior.

Imagine if Excel employed this philosophy. It wouldn't be useful to anyone.


That depends how large the subset is. If it's 2% or lower, then yes. Hell, I might even go as high as 10% depending on what the particular bit of behaviour is.


Do you think 2% of Excel users (or 10%) use Pivot tables? Do you think Excel would be the massively powerful tool it is today without that?

Same for scatter plot, import csv files delimited with % marks, and the ipmt() function?


A fair point but misleading - they're not a simple checkbox which can break your everyday experience. In fact, none of them are UI relevant at all, really.


I wasn't aware I could set a field to SUM(..) etc from the gui... Most of the features in Excel are a bit under the covers.. and far more so than about:config... maybe the "advanced settings" tab should be a button that just takes you to about:config with a warning?


Err... I just opened up Excel (2002 since that is all I have at work), selected a cell, clicked on the SUM button (sure it uses the mathematical symbol for sum but if you hover over it, it says SUM), and then was able to click and drag (or CRTL + click for nonconsecutive cells) to select cells for the sum. This is all via the GUI. I'm not sure how this is hidden. Heck, I did this in a Japanese version of Office which I can't read.

Is this different in Office 2010 or any of the newer versions of Office? I mostly use LibreOffice and even there it has the same "all GUI" functionality.


Honestly, didn't know, I rarely use excel, but do know a lot of people who do a ton of VBA code to connect to database resources to create interactive spreadsheets.. and a lot of that is far from common, button-click functionality.

And in any case, for those that want it, it's in about:config ... I doubt anyone who should be disabling JS would be looking around for it in a config frame, and not do a quick google search. I've generally adjusted most of my settings via about:config, mostly cache related for me, but if I'm playing with js settings etc.. it's easier to keep a tab open with about:config than a modal.


While you may know a lot of people who do VBA code in Excel, that is actually far from the norm for the average corporate user. From my non-CS friends who have worked in both large and small companies, I have heard tons of horror stories of the insane spreadsheets that low-to-average users make using just the GUI functionality. Huge spreadsheets with formulas spanning tons of sheets to simulate what could be done in a simple function. These spreadsheets get huge over time as coworkers slowly add/update functionality over time. All using the GUI which makes it a cluster fuck (my friends' words) to understand.

And all of this actually is equivalent to the "uncommon" VBA coding that you hear of. I wouldn't be surprised if all of the VBA code / spreadsheets you hear about evolved from one of these massive GUI created spreadsheets. Why? Anecdote time:

Those VBA sheets tend to come into existence when a non-programmer decides to learn about macros, updates one of these sheets to be simpler (less data entry), and it actually works. One of my friends was one such employee and she ended up converting a few of the inefficient spreadsheets into a single faster (though still slow) one. Due to cutting down the amount of manual data entry and processing time, it made what used to take a few days of work into a single day of work (mostly to have the sheet run calculations). If this creation gets useful enough, it can take a life of its own in the company and eventually some manager might make it the responsibility of an "IT" guy to update the code. Usually because the original employee got promoted (or left for a better job) due to killing their performance reviews. My friend was one such employee who left and actually did this at more than 1 company leading to a pretty damn well paying job at a young age. Last she heard, her original spreadsheet was still being used and semi-maintained by IT. And this it how I believe a lot of those VBA coding projects come into existence.

How this all connects back to FF and the javascript option, I have no idea. What I do know is that non-technical users can be pretty goddamn creative when it comes to finding ways to simulate uncommon functionality when needed. All via the GUI.


My dad takes great pride in complex VBA code. Unfortunately, this can backfire. A few years ago he was brought in to help manage a particular support system for a large telecoms company here in the UK, which involved a lot of Excel donkey work. He understandably figured out a way to automate about 50% of the work of the entire system.

This meant that he freed up plenty of time for the entire team he was on. Unfortunately, this meant that they now had surplus staff, and as the newest arrival, he was the first to let go.

Yeah, incredibly backwards internal politics, but I swear it's true.


100% believe you because this was one of the concerns my friend had about sharing her work. Only management didn't go the firing route. They ended up giving the employees even more work because of their newly found free time.


I've been one of those VBA/Excel automators, and almost every project you get done causes layoffs. They're crappy jobs, usually, but it doesn't feel very good. Vive la productivity gains?


What makes you say "Advanced settings" dialogs mean poorly thought out UI? I think it's a very good way to tell novice users, "don't open this panel if you don't know what you are doing". And if they still do it and something wrong happens, they'd immediately know the reason.


User has trouble with software. User says that software is "too hard to use". A usability/interaction team are tasked with making the software "easier to use" and set off to find "confusing and infrequently used" features they can kill off.

Obviously anything on the 'Advanced...' dialog makes an easy target.


Humm .... I don't believe that just the presence of an "Advanced" button somewhere in the settings makes a software hard to use. May be FF usability experts do. :)


There's very few applications I'd consider useful to me if stripped of the options that "most users" would never want to touch.


I'm pretty sure that Disable Javascript is not something asked ONCE.


At the moment of this writing, the NoScript extension is the 6th most popular extension.

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/extensions/?sort=us...


> they become dumping grounds for "something someone asked for once".

Right. That's what they should be.

Software exists to provide utility for users, not to instantiate designers' aesthetic visions.


"If there really is a problem, it may be worthwhile to move it to an "advanced settings" panel, but removing it entirely is a terrible idea."

I'd like to see the evidence as well. Perhaps there are dozens of bug reports coming in every week that can be traced back to disabled javascript.

They did leave it as an option in about:config though so at least it can still be disabled via javascript.enabled=false


Implementation isn't the only cost of features. You need to test them so they don't break. Features can be a burden for the codebase and removal can lead to many edge cases becoming unnecessary. A magnitude of features can overwhelm users, especially occasional users. They steal attention from other features that you may find more important.

And the most important point here: This feature really is broken as of today. Nobody can persuade me that they use it on their main browsers. I don't believe them.


There are some web sites that use a Javascript to prevent one from right clicking on images to save them; disabling Javascript is a workaround for that. I wouldn't be surprised if that is in common use.


But you don't need to disable JS altogether to prevent that, only disable replacing context menus. Unfortunately for that argument, updating to FF23 removes all of the 'advanced' JS options, not just the checkbox to disable it altogether.


But then deactivating javascript for the whole browser isn't the right solution, because it breaks everything. You simply use NoScript.


Certain shopping sites disable right-click to prevent you from comparing prices.

Certain lyrics sites disable right-click to prevent "theft".

Certain sites disable right-click for aesthetics or to prevent me from seeing the page source.

This news just makes me glad I'm on chrome.


The option has not been removed entirely, it is in the advanced settings, which are called about:config.


> Is there any empirical evidence that suggests that people accidentally disabling JavaScript and then being confused as to why websites don't look right is a significant problem?

Of course not. Mozilla's agenda is determined by its main sponsor, Google, which has a vital interest for JS to be enabled. Any spin on this being somehow "for the user" is bullshit.


Apparently, the agenda of Google's own browser team isn't determined by Google, since they haven't removed this option.


The other thing Alex posted is firefox really gives you no indication of why the internet looks weird and is breaking left and right. So you can disable js or images or ssl and unless you're lucky enough to know a programmer or IT person really have no guide to undoing whatever happened.


If "the internet" is suddenly breaking left and right after you've disabled certain features wouldn't you try re-enabling the features?


You give people way too much credit. Keep in mind most people still blatantly deny changing anything when something goes wrong for whatever reason. "I didn't even do anything, it just broke."


I remember a user flat out lying about what an error box said over the phone. I asked her to read it out, she gave be what was in her head, not on the screen. I asked her to read it word-by-word, she did the same. I asked her to read it out letter-by-letter ("I've never seen that error there before, I want to get it exactly right so I can ask the programmers...") and then she actually looked at what it said.


Oh the dread that phone support brings back to me... The number of "tricks" we had to use to get users to tell us what they actually saw, and do what we actually told them, rather then what they thought they were looking at or thought they should do...

Anyone interested in psychology should do phone support for a few weeks...


Can you share any specific incidents? This seems like it would make a very popular HN story.


I still don't understand why people do this. They get so frustrated (or defensive or something else) that they refuse to tell you what is on the screen and/or make something up.

My guess is that they dismiss error boxes too quickly, or work ahead of you and are afraid that you'll figure it out if they tell you what their error box actually says, and they'll get an F on the test and will have to go to summer school.


That's a defence mechanism against support people that aren't there to help, but just to make them give up before they are allowed to talk with someone that can actualy help.

The problem is that once trained, people start doing it instinctively, even with the people that can actualy help.


On the flip side, I remember playing "Windows XP: The Roleplaying Game" with AT&T support, when they wouldn't give some very simple network config information without me checking a bunch of things on Windows with IE first.


I am pretty sure putting "disable js" option into advanced tab would be enough.

There are plenty options that can bug your browser or leave you unable to surf, why remove this particular one?


From what I understand, the ultimate goal is to remove them all (i.e. exile them to about:config, add-ons and the like).


You're presuming people know what they're doing. If someone clicks a bunch of boxes and things break, they might not know what boxes they checked/unchecked, they might not know how to get back to that window again (which menu item was it again? ).

If you think users aren't that stupid, you're wrong, they are that stupid. If you think people should not use the Internet if they don't understand that much, then you're suggesting kicking a large chunk of the population off the Internet. If you work in IT, kicking a lot of people off the Internet is a surefire way to reduce your industry's size.


Not if you disabled it while fiddling with a bunch of firefox options late at night, and then didn't notice anything broken until the next morning.

Not if someone borrowing your computer for 5 minutes disables it.


replying to myself: one more way apple simply makes better software: safari offers a simple reset option that seems to reset all browser settings. Now, this doesn't help in the case of a user not understanding what went wrong, but I can tell someone over the phone "click on safari -> reset safari" far more easily than walking someone through deleting a firefox profile while saving bookmarks or reinstalling firefox and creating a new profile. I don't like safari as a browser, but it's to apple's credit that they offer this simple option so I tell my mother / mother-in-law to just click reset if the internet is weird.


A novice was trying to fix a broken Lisp machine by turning the power off and on. Knight, seeing what the student was doing spoke sternly – “You can not fix a machine by just power-cycling it with no understanding of what is going wrong.”

Knight turned the machine off and on.

The machine worked. [http://planetvermont.com/v9n2/machine.html]


In firefox, go to "about:support", "reset firefox." Probably not exactly the same (and it's not exposed as easily) but it's there.


'about:support' is also accessible via Help->Troubleshooting Information.


thank you


Internet Explorer also has these reset buttons


Surely the best solution to "Firefox isn't very helpful about indicating when you've made a possibly breaking change" is "Firefox should indicate when you've done so", not "Firefox shouldn't let you"?


Try disabling cookies. This exactly describes the effect, except that it's not mysterious once you're used to it. If something doesn't work, I open it in Chrome (where I have cookies enabled), and it works.

In many cases, I suppose the developer doesn't know about the cookie dependency (because of a framework or some other dependency). In other cases, I guess they don't care. Rarely does the page actually tell you that cookies are required.


Frankly, I don't notify users in any way of a dependency on cookies or JavaScript. If you go disabling features fundamental to the functionality of the web, I expect that you know what you're doing and don't, in fact, expect most of the web to work. The web apps I build simply aren't going to function if you disable JavaScript or cookies.


That is a terribly user-unfriendly design decision because it does not distinguish between failure modes. Maybe your site is broken because I am running noscript or maybe it broken because it is mis-configured or recently hacked or my ISP's proxy is black-holing things or a dozen other things that could go wrong.

The point is that it is relatively trivial for the developer to add automated checks for per-requisites and display warnings for the ones that are missing. It is a lot harder for each user to manually run down through the list of all the things that could go wrong.

If they are missing, tell me your site needs javascript or cookies to operate and I might enable them for your site and give it another shot. But if I just get a catastrophic failure without explanation then I'll probably hit "back" and pick another similar site out of the google search results that brought me there.

Just don't make the warnings into roadblocks. Inform the user and let them decide to proceed or not.


[body] [noscript]This site requires cookies and javascript to function properly[/noscript] ... [/body]

Problem solved.


Not for cookies it ain't.


You do your test for cookies in JS, and display the message about cookies alone if that test fails.


Thanks to recent legislation in Poland webpages should inform user if they are using cookies. Result? Web littered with annoying popups that everybody closes without reading.


This is an EU wide data protection law, though each country implements it slightly differently


I think that's the case for all websites with a presence in or targeting eu countries.


Yes, that is correct. It is an EU law. It is an absolutely horrible, ill thought out law, but it is a law, so we all have to comply :-(


Actually, it's possible to implement in it an unobtrusive way that makes users feel more comfortable. The huge popups usually comes from the same websites that do popover ads (that commonly end up invisible and blocking scrolling with adblock) and auto-play videos.

Most of the time it's a small bar on the top or bottom of the screen. Stop whining.


Dumb lawers litter my web. Whining is the only thing I can do. Besides, even small bar often becomes huge bar on mobile.


Again, blame the web designers who don't even do enough diligence how others do the same. And demands of proper, obvious labeling is one of the better tools to stop companies from putting useless crap everywhere.


I don't see this. Web is filled with advertising, new laptops are filled with crapware. Labeling didn't do nothing to stop these things. What we get from lawers on the web are idiotic terms and conditions, "I agree" buttons under the wall of text, copyright craziness with idiotic cease and desist, persecution of people publishing secrets or just snooping around. I think if lawyers kept there noses out of the web it would be much safer place.


I agree with you about the design issue. I've had to create one myself (http://tenjin.ie) -- although I think the laws in Ireland are slightly different than elsewhere in the EU.

Regardless of the laws, though, when a site fails to function, it should tell you when cookies are the reason. It's not hard to do.


Ah, is that why I've been seeing more and more of those notices lately?


Here's the bug where the option was removed: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=851702

Limi's blog post "Checkboxes that kill your product" is cited in the bug as a good explanation of the motivation behind this: http://limi.net/checkboxes-that-kill/

The option has been added to the DevTools for developers who find it useful: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=864249

And of course addons like NoScript or js-switch are available if you still want this in your UI: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/noscript/ and https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/js-switch/


Sure, blame the 'checkboxes' and not your own failure to handle disabled js gracefully.

I'd be mad about this, except I haven't used firefox in years. One less reason to go back I guess.


Guessing you don't use facebook, twitter or any major webmail provider like 99.99% of the users online do. For over 99% of users this is a feature that shouldn't be visible.. for the other 0.0x% there is about:config ... I don't bitch about having to go into about:config to change my cache settings for when I am testing...


Lots of the Web does not do graceful degradation to fully functional sites without JS. That ship has sailed, that battle has been lost. JavaScript is a required, not optional, part of a lot of the Web.


Strongly disagree. Lots of the web may not degrade gracefully, but then also lots of it does.

Further, the notion of it as a lost battle is unfortunate because we're not discussing a binary choice between two opposing sides here. As an approach, progressive enhancement of JavaScript UIs enables developers to deliver an experience that degrades sanely in non-JS environments.

However, I will concede that your opinion appears to be the most commonly-held one, even among some developers. And it's probably not going to change for the better with news like this Firefox development... :-/


There is something to be said about the expectation when js is on and off. A lot of sites will have a notion of javascript is off == old mobile phones or low level device, and will assume that when js is off most css will be too. Simple sites won't see this as a problem, but for mildly complex sites, you'll have a matrix of "is js on ? off ? " "is css on ? off ?" "does it accept cookies?" "is this html5 thing available ?" "is there enough memory for this or that?" , and you'll add to the mix screen sizes and the availability of a keyboard or not, etc.

There's already so many moving parts, saying "this browser handles cookies, every newest features of css, html5 and everything. Except js won't run." is just a recipe for ugly user experiences.

Slightly OT, IMO blacklisting specific js (e.g facebook, twitter etc), or having browser giving an option to kill scripts that take too much time or too many resources should be healthier for the devs and the user than just turning js off on the whole site.


> "failure to handle disabled js gracefully."

How are we meant to handle AJAX requests that fetch data to display on the web page that allows users to achieve the goal of their visit? Without JS enabled, that part of the page will be blank, and many modern, rich content-heavy sites now pull data from different places on the fly, it's just how it is.

Is your idea of gracefully handling this situation putting a noscript tag there saying "please enable JS"? If so, what exactly is your problem with removing the option which we only ask users to re-enable anyway?

As many others have pointed out, you can still disable JS if you really need to. It's average non-technical users who don't require that option.


Let's not forget that not every page is meant for humans to read, and not every reader is attempting to consume information the same high-bandwidth (visual) way.

You might think AJAX is amazing, but I call it an accessibility nightmare.


I know exactly what you mean by AJAX being an accessibility nightmare, and perhaps my own recent over-indulgence in using AJAX to populate the website I made will come back to bite. Time will tell, and I'm willing to eat humble pie over it. But in my defense the client's requirement was to get that content on the page, and AJAX was the only method available to me.


> How are we meant to handle AJAX requests that fetch data to display on the web page that allows users to achieve the goal of their visit?

Make the request from your server, parse it on your server, template it on your server, and deliver the HTML result to your user.

> Without JS enabled, that part of the page will be blank, and many modern, rich content-heavy sites now pull data from different places on the fly, it's just how it is.

Perhaps the developers of these modern, rich content-heavy sites can learn how to do their jobs properly?

> Is your idea of gracefully handling this situation putting a noscript tag there saying "please enable JS"?

No. It goes far deeper than that, naturally. Progressive enhancement ( https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/making-software/progressiv... ) is about defining what is considered the core experience, defining the true value your site offers to your users, identifying the use cases that are utterly essential. It's these features that should be _implemented_ in a way that doesn't depend on JavaScript. So you build this layer first, and get it working. Then, you identify the enhancements, user experience improvements, the bells & whistles, and use JavaScript to fill in those gaps. Confident in the knowledge that should the JavaScript fail (for a plethora of different and uncontrollable reasons) the core experience will continue working. Then you consider the nice-to-have features, and decide how much of that is appropriate to incorporate as a core-experience level, and what improvements can be made with JavaScript.


Sounds cool, but speaking from recent experience, the option to make the request from the server, parse it on the server, template it and deliver it was not available to me for the job I was asked to do (as a frontend developer).

Sometimes it comes down to doing it with client side AJAX, or not doing it at all.

With developers learning to do their jobs properly, sure when the luxury of time and starting a new site from scratch is on your side. And with backend developers and engineers ready to configure the ultimate content delivery mechanisms. But what of when you don't have that luxury? What then? Just decline the job? Maybe, but then someone else will come along and do the AJAX, and get paid because the content appears when the site loads every single time (provided JS is enabled ;-).


How would you have Firefox "handle" this, exactly?


You can blame the web at large for moving in a direction that assumes JS is enabled, but that doesn't make the UX better.


One thing that surprised me a lot recently, is I started a rewrite of my personal website using Bootstrap as a base, where the old one used jQueryUI... iirc, I included the kitchen sink in the old version.. however, the new one came in a bit heavier on the download/overhead... even with a better min/merge plan.

I can say the new version I am working on looks better, and is actually usable on a phone, just the same, I am not sure I'd like to see the UX on a bandwidth constrained mobile connection.. it's still well under 1MB total, but it seems that we should be working towards being under 100K for an initial load, and given all the targets for different browsers, and work arounds, and libraries, tools etc.. I just don't know where we are going.

We have more target browsers and size constraints than ever, and it's more complicated than ever. I don't miss the V4 browser wars (IE4/NN4) but it seems that targeting a 700px wide or 960px wide site was way easier than the rules today, mobile first or not.


A few months ago, I switched to using w3m inside emacs as my primary browser.

w3m is not capable of handling Javascript at all. And you know what, for 90% of the websites I visit, it doesn't matter. They function fine and look fine without Javascript. And if w3m could manage to make most websites look fine without Javascript, so could Firefox -- if its developers cared.

As for non-technical users -- they're probably not going to be opening Firefox's Preferences dialog in the first place. And if they do, they probably aren't going to start randomly checking and unchecking stuff to see what it does. That's something an adventurous geek might try, but certainly not your typical non-technical user.

If Firefox developers wanted to additionally protect the average user from this dangerous button, they could have simply stuck it in the Advanced tab of the Preferences dialog, or added a scary warning about being doubly sure that the user knows what he's doing (like they do with about:config).

That said, I'm happy to use NoScript for this functionality anyway, as it's far more flexible than a blanket "turn off Javascript everywhere with no exceptions" button.


"As for non-technical users -- they're probably not going to be opening Firefox's Preferences dialog in the first place. And if they do, they probably aren't going to start randomly checking and unchecking stuff to see what it does."

You would be surprised what non-geeks tend to do when they have no clue what to do.


My mother-in-law emailed my wife a one line message today asking why she's seeing ads on Facebook that she hadn't seen before.

You are on the mark.


> As for non-technical users -- they're probably not going to be opening Firefox's Preferences dialog in the first place. And if they do, they probably aren't going to start randomly checking and unchecking stuff...

You clearly haven't worked with the same non-technical users I have. It took ages to figure out that "use TLS" getting unchecked was the reason our site wouldn't load for one particular visitor.

I wholeheartedly support removing all of these check boxes.


What is your take on w3m vs elinks?


I really haven't used it much, except as my default external HTML->Text converter (via wget + HTML::FormatText::Elinks), of which it does a good job.

Unfortunately, its main weakness is that (as far as I know) it's not integrated in to emacs as w3m is. If it was, I'd probably look to it as a serious contender. But since it's not, I'm afraid I'm stuck with w3m -- for better or for worse. (Right now, it's for better, as I'm quite satisfied with w3m -- except for my occasional Javascript needs, for which I fall back to Firefox, Opera, or Chromium).


Hmm, gotcha. I like elinks for it's pretty solid mouse/256color support in in terminal emulators but I haven't used it "from" other programs like emacs (just tmux). In that capacity, elinks is my primary browser for reading documentation (since I usually associate documentation with particular tmux sessions and leave it open for weeks or months on end).

w3m has image support in some terminals though, which fascinates me. I feel like I should probably investigate that some more.


"w3m has image support in some terminals though, which fascinates me. I feel like I should probably investigate that some more."

xterm http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20120402

I installed the w3m-img package on Ubuntu 1304, running it in xterm allows image viewing inline.

Irony: The Web page I linked to above has screen shots showing step by step how to install and run w3m. The Web page design requires javascript to display the screen shots! I wonder why web page designers do this?


I like this! The option is still there for power users (who most likely _know_ why they want to disable Javascript) and normal users can't accidentally disable it. Win-win!


It's even more relevant now with all the front end JavaScript frameworks that so many web apps rely on these days. In an age where web sites are now web apps that rely almost totally on JavaScript to function removing this option except for those who really have a good reason is acceptable and probably preferable. I feel like educating users is becoming harder and harder due to how hard we've all pushed for "it just works" type experiences so rather than fight the tide Mozilla is going with it.

Plus, apart from security concerns which can be dealt with other ways, JavaScript engines are now capable of running multiple web apps in many tabs simultaneously without being noticed. Wasn't performance one of the primary reasons for having this option back in the day? Now its not an issue. Going forward we might not see a disable js button and think it just as normal as not seeing an option to disable CSS or even html. It's kind of a non-optional piece of the web now.


> It's even more relevant now with all the front end > JavaScript frameworks that so many web apps rely on > these days.

Hardly. The number of people who chose to disable JavaScript is utterly dwarfed by the factors that get in the way of JavaScript successfully executing on the page.

Very simply: A browser can not execute JavaScript it hasn't received: http://isolani.co.uk/blog/javascript/DisablingJavaScriptAski...

You are reliant on factors outside of your control. For example, a well-intentioned DNS Blacklist took down loads of Fortune 500 companies: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/05/google_opendns_clash...


What's awful is that the update reportedly enables JS even if you had previously disabled it, though I doubt this was intentional.


Why do you think it was unintentional? It's specifically mentioned in the "Checkboxes that kill" blogpost, so they're hardly unaware of it.

(I agree that the changing of existing settings is the offensive part.)


Completely agree. Non technical users generally won't find the option to disable javascript, and won't understand it if they do find it. Enabled by default, users are better off using add-ons to disable or block JS where whitelists or better yet blacklists can be defined.


I supppose too many people accidentally disabled Javascript in recent months while trying to disable Java. As long as there's an about:config option that does the same thing, I don't think it's a bad move to remove that option from view.

I will, however, miss the "Advanced" button next to the "Enable JavaScript" checkbox (if that button is going to go away, too, which the article isn't clear about). I use those Advanced options all the time to prevent websites from messing with my neatly tiled windows and trying to prevent me from using the right mouse button. Here in South Korea, the majority of blogs and forums have right-click protection enabled (and refuse to display any content if you disable Javascript altogether) due to ridiculous defaults in popular platforms, and every other website feels like they have the right to go full-screen. Firefox is the only thing that makes this stupid trend bearable. I guess I'll have to go and check whether NoScript has a similar option.


You know in Firefox you can hold shift and right click and it will bypass any event handlers on the website. It will just give you your FF context menu.


Wow, thanks. Every time I learn a new shortcut, there seem to dozens more waiting to be discovered.


I can confirm the "Advanced" button is gone.

At least for the moment, the dom.disable_window_move_resize and dom.event.contextmenu.enabled preferences still exist in about:config, though.


How often do Firefox retire settings in about:config? There are still a bunch of old old settings in there, that you can still change.

Want your Firefox to behave like a 1990s browser with one window per website? You can configure that.


This is what will be the major issue for me. I toggle the right click override option on and off on a very regular basis.


Shift + right click is the shortcut to always go to the browser context menu.. No need to toggle preferences.


Thank you. I'm not familiar with JavaScript but would it be possible for websites to block shift+right click as well?

EDIT: Per this comment [1] holding shift causes Firefox to bypass event handlers, so hopefully that wouldn't be possible.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5968919


> This destroys a non-technical user's grasp of the differences between static HTML and programatically manipulated HTML.

I think this line says it all.

Non-technical user don't even know what HTML is, the concept they'd ever "grasp of the differences between static HTML and programatically manipulated HTML"? Do these people live in the real world?


well said. The fault lies in assuming that the rest of the world works like the way we (hackers) do. The fact is that they do not. Further, many of end users actually do like some of those animations that we find shitty.

JS makes the web feel responsive and interactive. I helps keep the user engaged with you site if used in the correct manner. Removing the option that easily disables it for a majority of users if the right step. Hackers will always find a way around it.


I will say this: it confuses the hell out of daihyou, who spends a lot of time on linkedin.

One man's 'responsive and interactive' is another man's "Did it work?"

I'm not going to make a value judgement on this bit. If snappy, responsive, and interactive are priorities, they should be handled in a way that doesn't involve opening the gates of hell and letting Javascript out. If the standards don't provide a clean way to do that that ensures accessibility and that pages don't discriminate against programmatic displays, then they damned well should so that we can exercise the hellspawn that is Javascript once and for bloody all.


I can't remember the last time I wrote an application that didn't rely on Javascript for even parts of its basic functionality.

I simply don't understand why you would want to browse the web without JS enabled and the average user definitely would never turn it off except in error, causing them to think the browser is broken.

Every single common-use browser on the Internet supports Javascript, there is no reason to assume it is not there as a developer.


> I simply don't understand why you would want to browse the web without JS enabled

It's faster. Much faster. Every time I disable noscript to use some website (90% of the time it's video that doesn't work) I'm always astonished how much GARBAGE most website have. Totally useless stuff.

Popup boxes, annoying underlining with mouse overs, certificate verifiers, bookmarks, social network promoters, chat boxes, and helpers galore.

I suppose that stuff pays the bills? Maybe. But pages are so much faster without it.


But that stuff is all important for the website owner.

Advertising for paying the bills, analytics tracking to work out who is using their site, chat/comments boxes for social interaction.


Disabling Javascript isn't equivalent to installing an ad blocker. Ads not showing are just a side effect if it. If sites can't integrate ads on the server side it's not my problem. Same with analytics: you can still use regular web server logs. Everything beyond that is too invasive for my tastes.


Not quite. As lockers are common enough that they need to be considered. However, far less than 1% of users disable JavaScript (on the sites I work with). I'd be supporting IE6 again with those numbers, because the real cost is having to build and maintain the different versions of the site.

And all for what? Someone who isn't going to make us anything near the time it will take to develop.

I'm not saying what you want is wrong. Rather, what you are asking for is to have a game written in c to be rewritten in python because you don't want to use c applications.


> because the real cost is having to build and maintain the different versions of the site.

Personally I don't block javascript that comes from the same domain as the page. Just 3rd party stuff.

This cuts out the majority of the garbage while still letting most sites work. (I've whitelisted a bunch on CDNs.)


I don't look at advertising - certainly not advertising that pops up if I mouse over a word. (Are website a game now, where you have to carefully move your mouse to avoid the underlined words?)

I allow analytics.

And I am not interested in social interaction, because the comments are so intensely stupid you become dumber just by your computer loading them.


> But that stuff is all important for the website owner.

Correct. However, this is not true for the the browser owner who owns the computer that the javascript executes on. What rights to my hardware, my electricity, and my bandwidth should the website owner actually have?

For the minority that do click on advertising, or do not get a instant distaste for any company displayed on advertising that are forcible pushed into ones face, I suggest using a opt-in system. Same goes for tracking, or the constant push for integrating different companies websites with ones personal social network profile.

Last, the golden days of pay-with-your-eyeballs or pay-with-your-personal-data supported services might be counting down. Sooner or later, tax officers will start consider those as transaction as any other, and thus enforce taxes on them.


I use Ghostery to remove analytics and stupid buttons. I sometimes have to disable it for broken websites, but that's relatively rare.


It's not a question of browser support, it's a question of user choice. Do I want to allow any and all websites to run random scripts on my computer?

For some people and some sites, the answer is an obvious yes. Especially when the script is an integral part of the app or site you're visiting, such as a game or a highly interactive tool.

Sometimes though, the content should be enough. There are plenty of sites out there, like blogs, that shouldn't need js to provide their primary function. For example, I don't feel that I should need to enable client side scripting to view a 140 character tweet on the twitter site.

For some people, tracking via js is the primary concern, and in their case it makes sense to disable js whenever possible, and use offline tools for everything that needs to be interactive.

In any case, this move has a solid precedent, and as others have noted there are plenty of plugins that allow granular control over js execution.


>> I simply don't understand why you would want to browse the web without JS enabled

Security, performance, JS ads ...

>> Every single common-use browser on the Internet supports Javascript

My company provides a web based app to Fortune 500 banks, around 15% of the browsers we see have JS disabled.


15% of browsers? I don't believe it. This has definitely not been my experience. You must be counting scrapers/bots in this total.

Security? The browser sandboxes everything.


Some people have valuable data inside their browsers. Javascript code can access this data.

Also, browsers aren't bug-free, and enabling Javascript significantly increases the attack surface.


Like what kind of data?



Except that Javascript cannot access that, unless some glaring design flaws have been made.

If you disagree with me, and believe it can, I would just love to see a webpage that dumps out valuable data inside my browser. I'll visit it without any browser plugins using the same session I have been using for over a month, promise!


A human would never make "glaring design flaws".


> around 15% of the browsers we see have JS disabled

How many are bots/scrapers?


How are you detecting whether they have JS disabled?


Some mainstream sites will load js from 20 (or more) sources, just to show you an article. Crazy.

Every mainstream browser supports Flash, too - does that mean Flash is the way of the future?

I run with NoScript, and it makes the web a quieter, more peaceful place.


Actually, at least one mainstream browser (Safari for iPhone) doesn't support Flash, and that's a part of why Flash has been declining (HTML5 capabilities being another important part).


I spend a lot of time browsing the web each day. I spend very little time using "web apps," and the few that I do use can easily be whitelisted, since I rarely try new ones. Everything else is basically a blog, article, some other completely static source of information, or an entirely HTML forms-based interface.

I don't block and selectively whitelist javascript, but I think I'd barely notice if I did. Maybe I'll give it a shot some time.


Key word application. An extremely small percentage of the websites I visit qualify as applications.


But even Hacker News would be provide a better user experience if it made more use of Javascript to publish comments, etc. instead of all the jumping around with the current UI. Something only possible with JS.


This is my preferred use of js, providing additional functionality and usability improvements on top of things that already work perfectly well with js disabled.

Users with js still get the "fuller" experience, but users who choose to disable js still have full access to the site.


But developers shouldn't have to implement extra functionality for the < 1% [citation needed] of people who browse without JS .


But you have to implement this "extra functionality" already. Or, how are you dealing with situations where your JavaScript fails to reach your user's browser? How are you dealing with situations where the JavaScript arrives in the browser but doesn't execute?

This "extra functionality" is the same "extra functionality" as having a safety cage designed and implemented in a car. Sure, it's just extra functionality that most people will never ever use. Hopefully. Touch wood.


If it doesn't work without JS, is it going to work in a screen reader? Should developers have to implement extra functionality for the < 1% of people who are blind?

Nobody is forcing developers to give a damn about accessibility, but it's a bit sad that so many have thrown graceful degradation out the window.


The way I understand it (and I don't claim to be an expert): yes, it will work. Modern screen readers let the browser handle the JS and related parts, and it reads the displayed text.


Screen readers can generally cope with much use if JavaScript now.


key word 'much'. That's like saying something 'mostly' works and therefor 'it's not a problem'.


No, I meant it can be made to work, you of course need to test it.


That depends entirely on your site and audience.

Although some counter by saying that you shouldn't need to provide wheelchair ramps for the < 1% of people who are unable to use stairs.

Sometimes it's not just about ROI.


JS doesn't make the web less accessible. You can choose to make your web apps using JS just as accessible as plain-old HTML, sometimes more so.


I think that would be easy to fix using only HTML, if the refresh used an anchor tag to your comment.


But would always require a complete page reload.

Not that most web apps wouldn't implement it that way to begin with anyway, but this would be the only choice with a HTML-only site.


But go back to HN for a moment, there's not really a good way to insert new threaded comments in realtime, you pretty much need a refresh. So the no-js method is about perfect.


>But would always require a complete page reload.

So? A complete HN page is smaller than JQuery.


> I can't remember the last time I wrote an application...there is no reason to assume it is not there as a developer.

I'm starting to feel old, since no one seems to remember HTML webpages instead of apps or those people that would say they can "program" html.


There is a reason to assume that it is not there, particularly if you're developing a U.S. government website, and that's for accessibility reasons.

Google Section 508 and you'll see what I mean. Go ahead and build your site to use javascript, but don't continue under the false pretense that everyone needs/can use javascript.


There's now a distinction between a web application and a simple web page.

If I just want to read content, I'm not interested in running your application. I'd rather keep Javascript off and retain my anonymity.

If I actually want to use your application, then sure, I'll enable Javascript for your site.


Speed. Try loading theverge.com or cnn.com with / without javascript.


The content on both those sites load plenty fast with JS turned on… and I'm based in Australia with our shitty connection to the rest of the world.


I just counted, and The Verge takes 20 seconds to show any content on my computer with a cold cache. With a warm cache, over 10 seconds. If I disable JS, it's less than 5 seconds either way. And I'm sitting in the headquarters of an ISP (I broke http://speedof.me/ but I'm getting over 150Mb/s).


With a cold cache The Verge takes under 7 seconds to display its homepage on my shitty 4Mbps home connection and under 4 seconds on a warm cache.


You cant measure speed on a bad connection. You are penalising websites that are not bloated because they seem just as bad to you as the two sites listed above.


> This destroys a non-technical user's grasp of the differences between static HTML and programatically manipulated HTML. It hides the setting amidst hundreds of other obscure settings, and does not emphasize the extremely powerful tool that JavaScript is, and the fact that it is optional.

Most 'non-technical users' don't have a clue about HTML, Javascipt, static features, etc. To them the internet consists of Facebook, Google and Youtube.

Arguably users who want to disable Javascript could be classified as 'technical', at least enough to be able to Google either a) how to do it from within Firefox, or b) install a plugin such as NoScript to do it for them.


Right. Non-technical users do not think that way, at all. Javascript and HTML are implementation details of the website they are using. Even people who hire IT consultants tend not to understand these things much, although they might think they do.

I can imagine most web developers who freelance have dealt with a complaint from a client who had mistakenly turned off JavaScript, at least once.


Non-technical users do not even know what a browser is, much less anything about HTML or JavaScript.


What exactly is a non-technical user?

I read threads like this all the time: someone talks about "non-technical users" or "your grandma" or "pointy-haired bosses" or the like, and then goes to great length to discuss, in detail, the capacities or cognitive styles or knowledge base of members of these hypothetical categories.

It all seems like a bunch of arbitrary assumptions.


I don't know about anyone else's experience, but these assumptions are pretty dead-on in my own personal experience. Non-techies(my mom, or somebody who only uses home computers for email & turbo-tax and some super-locked-down PC at work) don't have a clue what/how it's doing what it does. The blue "E" on the desktop is the internet, sometimes it's even the whole computer when they say "My computer doesn't work". They most _definitely_ don't have a clue what HTML or javascript is, or what that blue "e" on their desktop is. That being said, not to come off as some arrogant know-it-all, I admit I know very little about how my car works. I just take to the dealer and do the suggested maintenance. I'm sure I'm paying more than I should somewhere but I don't care... however, I'm starting to think it's more dangerous not to know how a computer and the internet work than it is to not know how your car works.


Cars are regulated and require state inspection. A computer OTOH is still a mad max device.


The "non-technical" user is real, in my experience. I worked tech support at a school where the teachers at the school would accidentally delete icons on their desktop and change every setting in the browser one day trying to print something. I've also volunteered as in-person support at Firefox events. Watching people bring in their computers full of crapware and with things modified all to hell before they finally asked for help. These people aren't dumb, they just lack the technical literacy sometimes. But they are most certainly not hypothetical.


Firefox is the most customizable browser available. It's about time they cleaned-up their Preferences panel and leave that stuff for extensions to tackle.

I personally never disabled Javascript from the Preferences panel because I never find anything in that panel. To disable Javascript, I use the Web Developer toolbar, which is much more convenient, although not convenient enough - since one might want to enable/disable Javascript automatically on a domain basis, which is why this should be best handled by extensions that are free to innovate the UI.

And while we are at it, I wish Firefox would add a search box in that Preferences panel. Its usefulness has been demonstrated in Chrome's Settings and Windows' Control Panel.

Also, Firefox rocks and I'm so happy to see it improve.


I agree--the global Javascript disable is pointless in this day and age.

As for enabling it by domain, check out the "noscript" extension. I've been running it for a couple years and it (a) lets you see from which domains a page is loading Javascript files and (b) lets you enable/disable Javascript from particular domains. I've never enabled facebook.com, for instance, since I don't have an account there and I don't like the idea that every page out there with a "like" button is tracking me.


Have you tried opera (not the latest Chrome-bastard but earlier versions)? I'd challenge your statement, opera seems much more customizable to me.


When I said "customizable" I didn't mean in terms of settings, but it terms of what you can do with Extensions/Add-ons.

Name another browser where the Firebug-like functionality is an extension and not something built-in.


That's a very arbitrary line to draw. Some "alternative browsers" exist that wrap the IE rendering engine in a different UI (and some of those include their own firebug-like functionality), does that mean IE is more customizable than firefox (which, after all, forces you to use GTK for your UI)?


Wrapping the IE rendering engine in a different UI is a different browser, but further than that, you can also embed Gekko, Firefox's rendering engine in a custom UI.

Examples of browsers that embedded Gekko: Camino (a Firefox fork for OS X that happened in a time when Firefox wasn't as polished for OS X), Flock and K-Meleon. Google's Picassa for Linux was also using Gekko.

Also, Firefox's UI toolkit is not GTK, but rather XUL+XPCOM, abstracting over the various native toolkits: https://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/XUL

Only Firefox on Linux uses GTK. Even on Linux, there have been previous attempts at supporting Qt as the backend for KDE, but all failed because of the easiness with which you can make GTK look like whatever KDE theme you've got selected - not perfect, but the flaws where not enough to gather interest in further development.

There's even XULRunner, for easily building and packaging XUL+XPCOM standalone apps: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/XULRunner

This isn't to say that XUL/Gekko are perfect as their complexity was often the subject of criticism, which is why Mozilla replaced XUL completely with HTML5 in Firefox OS and will probably do so in future Firefox versions - as they are also working on Servo, a next-gen rendering engine that doesn't do XUL anymore: http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/research/projects/

Imagine a browser who's every facet and functionality is customizable by HTML5/Javascript extensions that you can install with one click. That's what Firefox already is - the Emacs of browsers.

For example, if my Firebug example wasn't enough, when Chrome was released, many people loved the light download progress functionality that wasn't opening an annoying modal window. Pretty soon an extension called the Download Statusbar happened: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/download-stat...


>Wrapping the IE rendering engine in a different UI is a different browser, but further than that, you can also embed Gekko, Firefox's rendering engine in a custom UI. >Examples of browsers that embedded Gekko: Camino (a Firefox fork for OS X that happened in a time when Firefox wasn't as polished for OS X), Flock and K-Meleon. Google's Picassa for Linux was also using Gekko.

True, but only goes to show my point - if firefox's extension mechanism made it so super-customizable, surely there would be no need for such browsers?

>Firefox's UI toolkit is not GTK, but rather XUL+XPCOM

Fair enough, but the point stands; when writing extensions you're restricted to using the XUL toolkit. Contrast with e.g. activex-based add-ons in Internet Explorer, where AIUI you get the standard windows API and can thus use any toolkit you like.

>Imagine a browser who's every facet and functionality is customizable by HTML5/Javascript extensions that you can install with one click.

I'm happy to believe that Firefox is the browser that's easiest to customize in HTML5/Javascript, I just think that's a very arbitrary line to draw. IE addons can be any language you like (because again they're just using the standard APIs) and can be installed with one click.

There are plenty of good things about firefox, but I don't think you can say it's more or less customizable than the alternatives without defining customizability in a very arbitrary way. All browsers have a succession of methods of customization, from simple userjs to custom extension formats to embedding the engine in a new executable, with the power and complexity increasing at each step. That firefox's "extensions" lie at a bit more powerful and complex point along the line than chrome's is not the basis for this blanket claim of greater customizability.


Yes, Firefox is still more embeddable than IE (although that is changing, since almost no one does).

And it doesn't force you to use GTK for your UI.


Mozilla is working on it. Firefox OS for example no longer uses XUL and they've got an awesome research project called Servo - a Gekko replacement that addresses its short-comings.


What can FF extensions do that Opera extensions can't?


I'll take no answer as an answer then =^.^=


The following rant is somewhat tangential but, as a front-end developer that takes pride in progressively enhancing websites I work on, I think this is a shame for a different reason.

So many times when speaking to employers/product owners about progressive enhancement of JavaScript components, the answer I get back is along the lines of "we don't care about that" or "we don't have the time". Sometimes in conversations with other developers too. I think this change will contribute to an increase in that attitude.

Progressively enhancing a website enables you to still deliver a whizz-bang, fancy-pants UI but ensure that it degrades to a sane text document when viewed in, say, lynx [1]. And it doesn't mean doubling the development time of every feature, which I often hear cited as an argument against. Often it can involve providing a very cut-down equivalent that takes relatively little time to build.

Should we care about people that turn off JavaScript or use a non-JavaScript browser enough to write code for them? Given that the web is an open, standards-based platform, I think we should.

[1] http://lynx.browser.org/


Shouldn't progressive enhancement be part of best practices, rather than a billable feature on the invoice? Or in other words, used by default.


Absolutely! But I still find myself having to make the case for it, when others are looking for ways to cut corners.


> So many times when speaking to employers/product owners about progressive enhancement of JavaScript components, the answer I get back is along the lines of "we don't care about that" or "we don't have the time"

Stop talking. Start doing instead. Employers and product owners are hiring you for your skills, so use them. Don't ask permission to follow best practice, just do. You are more than a code monkey.

Do your employers really not care if a third party outside of their control decide to do something to affect the availability of their site?

Do your employers control, audit and manage every single byte that gets delivered as part of their website? For those they don't completely and accurately manage and control, how do they absolutely ensure that every byte that needs to be delivered arrives correctly and is interpreted correctly in their users browser? How do they remove the risk of all those server hops between their web server and the customer's browser? How do they control that?

The Web cannot be controlled or managed in this way. There are simply too many factors outside of a website owners control that affect how their site is perceived by customers. Without pragmatic approaches it's either an all-or-completely-broken situation, or when a site is built properly with progressive enhancement, a slight degradation of usability that customers don't really notice - because the core experience just works.

https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/making-software/progressiv...

Want a good data point? How about a couple that decided rather vocally that progressive enhancement is dead. $100,000 spent on a bootstrapped application, and then this astonishing comment: http://unicornfree.com/2013/why-we-shut-down-charm-on-the-ev... -- read the third paragraph of that comment.

Sometimes, it's an expensive lesson to learn.


Which is exactly why we added the disable JS button to Firefox developer tools options. It simply disables it for the current tab until the tab is closed.


Way too many Geeky answers here. I could understand that, after all this is Hacker News.

But Majority of Users, My guess that is 60-70% of them, wont even know what Javascript is or mean.

My bet is that there is Less then 10% of users who cares about this. And less then 5% who just cant stand to disable it in about:config instead of UI.

And It is true what Mozilla have pointed out, Disabling even some totally unrelated Javascripts like tracking will somtimes make a mess of Websites. I have seen it far too many times with Ghostery.

For those 5% who REALLY cares about Disabling Javascript for any reasons because you think you know so much. I dont see why using an Add-On or going to about:config searching for Disable Javascript is such as big hassle.

And if you DO have such a big concern over a missing UI features, you can always go to Opera.


Is it just me, or do most of the commenters here seem to believe that it's no longer possible to disable JavaScript, as opposed to it simply being removed from the UI?


One aspect of this that I haven't heard people get into very much: the idea that a lot of people have, including (probably) most developers at Mozilla and many web developers such as myself, is for the web platform to be a ubiquitous way to deploy applications.

The idea is that JavaScript allows a relatively safe way to do that in a sandboxed environment (the browser) that is available on almost every computer.

The developers who really want the web to just be a bunch of static HTML are actually inhibiting that vision of a web platform. Because if disabling JavaScript were to become popular, that takes away that capability of web browsers to run applications. The conversation would go from something like "we can use JavaScript and this application will run for anyone who has a new version of Firefox, Chrome, or IE10/11, or Safari" to "we can deploy our application to the latest browsers, but we will have to first present a screen asking users to enable JavaScript on our site" or something along those lines. It goes from being a ubiquitous cross-platform solution to one that will only run for people who like JavaScript.

JavaScript in the browser is by far the best option we have now and in the foreseeable future for easily deploying applications across different types of operating systems and even devices.

Its amazing to me how many people don't appreciate that goal or really take it into account.


I still completely disagree making the web an application platform. Because of the absurd HTML5 cult, many websites are obtaining unpredictable and inconsistent behavior. The difficulty of explaining it to my old parents is increasing day by day. Moreover, browsers are getting fatter unlimitedly and only a few vendors can survive and develop them. It gives browser vendors special privileges. As we are experiencing now, no one can stop this "Disable JavaScript" removing. How can people say this is "open" movement? The good old web is dying.

The web should be words and documents first (I think this page is worth reading http://justinjackson.ca/words.html). It's too late to say but if you want a sandboxed application platform, develop it out of the web. I still believe the plug-in was not a that bad idea, not the best idea though. At least you can disable it anytime and you have freedom of choice.

I suspect that the back button will be eliminated next. Because it collapses most web applications and "user experience".

If the web want to become a perfect application platform, all virtue of the web will be lost.


Good old web? What's that? The one with dancing baby gif? Or the old ARPANet?

Web has always been about managing documents in one way or the other. Now those documents are interactive and interesting to watch and listen.

I mean, if my old chem book had cool animations I could tinker with I'd probably be having fun with it right now. I don't understand the outcry for GOW. It's still around and you can still make those sites, but they are usually hard to read (no fancy column layout to make it easy on the eyes) and you have to be a great writer to really engage the audience.

Going back to GOW won't make bad writters instantly better. No more than returning to 8-bit graphic won't instantly make all games better.


I just want to mention that the order of operations here was that the web took the world by storm overnight and application developers said "there is a turning complete language in the standard, lets use it for programs rather than document scripting".

It didn't start out as lets make an application platform that can be accessed via url, it was make a document format (html) and share them over a network protocol (http) and provide scripting with javascript, and when everyone and their moms PC had that, developers started saying "can't we make that into a full blown application platform?" (besides failed experiments like java plugins or flash as an application framework)

I really wish we had just let html be documents and made a real remote-access application framework to work along side it, rather than having your program be 2 - 3 tags of html and 5MB of js. I'd much rather be sharing a qml application than an html5 one, because the latter was ground up designed to be a full featured interactive graphical interface program.

That would actually be neat, if browser engines included a qml parser and could load qml files as programs in the browser window frame. It is just extended javascript after all.


In addition to traditional client-server webapps, what about making local-only apps that just happened to be written in HTML, JS, and CSS? Possibly with a package manager run by the browser?



Okay, since Opera seems to have gone the way of the dodo: Is there a browser for power users? I mean, good luck to Firefox and Chrome, but considering I rarely use flashy websites, I really would rather use something that only works with half the sites, but has the experimentation and hunger for ideas for the sake of ideas more than for the sake of market share these so sorely lack.


Sure: surf[1], uzbl[2] and luakit[3], among others. Or my favorite: Firefox + NoScript + Vimperator.

[1]: http://surf.suckless.org/

[2]: http://uzbl.org/

[3]: http://mason-larobina.github.io/luakit/


Sure, there's a browser for power users. It's called being enough of a power user to install extensions that do what you want.


Actually, it's called coding them myself, but even then I'd rather do that in C than with several layers of abstraction (coding in javascript for a XUL interface or whatever that is -- let me know how startup and runtime performance works out for you when you have 50 of them and 50 tabs open).


Then embed Webkit (or even Xulrunner, but that's painful) and go from there. Good luck.


Why do you think Opera has gone the way of the dodo? It's an excellent browser, by far the best browser in my opinion. Furthermore, they're changing their renderer to webkit which will ensure no more Opera incompatibility. If anything, Opera just keeps getting better.


I know it's the best, I am using it was we speak and have been doing so since 2000. The last time I tried it Opera Next after the switch to blink, I couldn't install it -- so I read the comments instead, and it sounded like a gazillion of features were missing. If those get all transferred, I am happy and you can strike that comment. But if they only transfer the shiny stuff "most people need", I'd love to move on, just because all of this is sad and I don't wanna see it anymore.

Don't get me wrong, I always wished Opera mainstream success. But I think there is also something to be said for niches, and the desire to appease the existing average just because the balance book says that's the best, needs to be called out on sight. Imagine authors only writing books 98% of the people agreed with or cared about. We'd still be in caves with that attitude.

I know making tools isn't exactly the same, but it's also not totally different, IMHO. We need to aim higher than were we are. Every sports fan knows more and more complicated facts than even using all features of Opera would require. Riding a bicycle, much less driving a car, is more complicated than being aware of what option you just clicked - ffs!

If even Firefox can't help but caving in like that, I simply won't dare to hope Opera does better, until I actually see that happening.

I am sorry for ranting, this topic is a huge pet peeve of me. Like when Apple talked about how folder hierarchies are "too complicated", gah. I know I'm expecting too much of people, but I really would rather err on the side of that, than on the side of expecting too little, and then getting exactly that.


The newest version of Opera strips away most of the tools power users like. It's one step away from Chrome's UI.

They'll probably add most of it back, but it'll take a long time.


I thought Opera Next is just a beta for testing the renderer. I don't think they consider it the new version of Opera yet, as it doesn't come up as a new version. I'm sure they wouldn't be so stupid to remove all the nice new features they've recently added and that their loyal following rely on.


Have a look at luakit. It's basically the Webkit engine and everything else scripted in Lua.


There was a talk (or podcast?) that discussed how cluttered with vestigial options Firefox and other browsers are. One of the examples was JS - if you turn it off entirely it makes the entire web seemingly broken. As long as the option is there for power users, this is the kind of thing that removing will probably cause less headaches for people in the long term.


You're probably thinking of "Checkboxes That Kill": http://limi.net/checkboxes-that-kill/ - and I believe it's what inspired Firefox to remove the option.


That's exactly what it is. Thanks!


This is unnecessary panic/upset.

It's only being removed from the UI

The backend ability is still there.

Extensions like no-script and yes-script (I prefer) will still function.


A lot of the anger in this case is because Mozilla is once again removing useful functionality from Firefox for very nebulous reasons.

Even if such functionality can be restored by using about:config, or by installing extensions, it becomes a hassle.

They did this with the menu bar, and it hurt Firefox's usability. Now many of us have to waste time and effort reconfiguring it to make the menu bar reappear every time I install Firefox.

They did this with the status bar, and it hurt Firefox's usability. Now many of us have to waste time installing extensions to restore this core functionality.

This case may be even worse, because it's not a one-time fix. Now we'll have to go digging through about:config options each time we want to disable JavaScript, or wait until Firefox 24 so we can disable JavaScript through the developer tools.

Many of us are just plain getting fed up with Mozilla's bad decisions, and very justifiably so.


- disabling javascript via about:config is no harder than through the settings if you know about it

- How does removing the status bar hurt usability? You still see links when you hover over them, and the add-on bar can be toggled instantly with Ctrl+/

- Always displaying the menu bar by default is a waste of space, it can still easily be accessed with Alt or configured to always display.

Honestly you seem to just dislike change, and I'd advise you to simply turn off automatic updates. The rest of us are happy for improvements to be made.


I'm all for change that improves usability, efficiency, and performance, for instance. I'm not for changes that obviously inhibit such things, like the changes that Mozilla has made recently.

about:config is not as convenient to use as a checkbox in the preferences dialog. If what you're suggesting were actually true, then there'd be no need for a preferences dialog at all, and all users would configure Firefox using about:config. But we both know that isn't true. It is not convenient to remember the name of a specific about:config option, especially when the names change periodically. Even filtering by part of the option name isn't convenient, as that requires remembering Mozilla's terminology, and using a general term like "javascript" still leaves many options to sift through manually.

As for the status bar, the URL popup shown when hovering over links is much less usable than the status bar. It is harder to quickly focus on, for instance. Having to remember yet another obscure keyboard shortcut for functionality that should be enable by default, like the addon bar, does not promote usability, as well.

The menu bar is not a "waste of space" because it more than pays back its cost by making a huge amount of commonly-used functionality very easily accessible. It is especially valuable because of the cross-application conventions it embodies, making it take even less effort to perform common tasks.

We shouldn't have to manually enable core functionality like menus or the status bar, for example. Such functionality should already be enabled by default when Firefox is first installed. Anyone who doesn't like the menu bar or the status bar should have the option to disable them, of course. But they should not have been disabled by default, or even removed completely.


Wow, how times change. The smart advice was to never use Javascript. (Years ago pg even wrote, "I would not even use Javascript, if I were you. Most of the Javascript I see on the Web isn't necessary, and much of it breaks." ) Javascript has gone from horribly flaky -> occasionally useful -> necessary -> mandatory.


That's because more people are actually taking the time to understand the browser, dom, markup and language itself, instead of copy/pasting some poorly written image-swapping script. (God I've seen too many of those)... JS has been capable of doing some fairly impressive app-like functionality since the late 90's. I'd say NN4/IE4 was the beginning of that ability, despite dramatically different approaches.

Today, browsers have far more in common (regarding js/dom) with each other (IE8+ too) than at any point pre-2005. And it is about damned time. I still think the likes of jQuery round out a ton of those rough edges, and it still disappoints me to see so many who hate JS because they want it to be (insert preferred language here).

JS is, and has been my favorite language for a very long time.


You imply that javascript stopped being flaky. I find that it's often flakiest on sites where it's mandatory.


That's a good move to make considering the numerous JavaScript-dependent web applications present today!


disabling javascript is the most effective method against XSS, so it's really bad choice to not be able to do it simply. not that firefox would be that security-minded in other areas regarding to javascript (XSS + form autofill without SecureLogin addon = fun & profit for hackers)


Didn't gnome3 taught us a valuable lesson on dumbing things down on the expectation that users are dumb/can't read?


I hope you realize that the users of Gnome and other X11 desktops have already passed a serious level of technical literacy. In the event they haven't, it's because they're the direct family member of some techie.


If Firefox's developers are worried about people not understanding why a page doesn't work, another potential solution would be to provide users with some feedback. For instance, if Javascript is disabled but present in a page, perhaps show a (simplified?) small debugger box showing the next lines of Javascript which would have been executed and some sort of an obvious Run / Play button to start the script.

I'd prefer if browsers treated the Web as less of a black box, and if they erred more toward helping users understand the world they are exploring.


This is a great idea, but should probably be simpler for the average user. Eg "You have JS off, which will break some websites. Click here to turn it on. The simple option you used in the past to toggle this has gone. Click here to find out how to toggle it now"


As a Firefox user, I feel like most of the people complaining are Chrome users just looking to pick a fight.

Hey, Chrome folks, Firefox has this great thing called NoScript. I realize Chrome doesn't have that, so you have to manually disable/enable JavaScript. We just use NoScript, as we have for years, which does a lot more. Firefox users don't rely on the "Disable JavaScript" option, nor ever did.

This is a nonissue, but continue to make it more than it is.


As long as you can still disable JS via about:config or NoScript, this is hardly worrisome.


The bug was resolved as invalid with no explanation. I hope that by the time this makes it to regular release the transition is handled better.


I'm surprised that checkbox hung around as long as it did. I imagine only maybe .001% of browser users actually really cared enough to turn that off, and if they did, they were probably already running something like NoScript since toggling it in the preferences all the time is way too blunt an instrument anyway.


I can't stand engineers who assume that they know better than those who use their products. Not just hiding the ability to easily disable javascript, but RE-ENABLING IT AGAIST THE USERS EXPRESSED DESIRE via an update - seriously, your head is so far up your ass you'd have to shit twice just to see daylight.


This is a heavy-handed solution that could be better solved simply by adding more explanatory tooltips. Something like:

[x] Disable Javascript. This will break or significantly reduce the functionality of many websites, but will also prevent them from gathering marketing and other data on you. [Details](http://www.mozilla.org/javascript)

Make the primary tradeoffs clear, supply a link to a mozilla.org site with a more comprehensive explanation of what you give up and gain.

Programmers like to simplify, abstract, and modularize, but that isn't always the best strategy with language. Sometimes, even with control panel tooltips, it's better to be a little bit more verbose, take up a little more screen real estate, if it saves your users some trial-and-error time or a trip to Google.


I commented on this elsewhere, but to all the people who assume that developers can just build websites and assume that JS is enabled, please Google "Section 508".

FWIW, I don't think we should avoid educating users. Pandering to the dumbest common denominator only makes dumb things in the long run.


Well JS can be disabled with the help of plugins however I find it ominous that you have to be an expert user/programmer to disabled javascript.

There are a lot of websites out there that use javascript for less than reputable purposes so not being able to disable it when you know you might run into them is insecure.

Like say using tor where having JS enabled is like asking to be tracked.

I know disabling JS is not an option on the modern web but then ship with something like noscript instead don't just leave users exposed.

This is not a feature that can just be removed it needs to be replaced instead.


This will obviously receive a lot of hate from the tech community.

Fortunately they are the 1%. For everyone else in the world, this is a welcomed change. Most people don't even know what JavaScript is.



At this point, I'm fine with disabling options if the program is sufficiently scriptable / programmable to allow someone to write a plugin to duplicate the "turn off" behavior. For browsers, we seem to be in a plugin replaces options universe. If a browser plugin cannot duplicate the behavior, then the browser needs to be changed to allow it or the option needs to stay.


There are more people who disable JS unintentionally than those who do it intentionally.

This is a good move. Option still exists in about:config.


Why is taking away features "in" now?


I'll bite.

Due to the names Java and JavaScript being so similar, users get confused when their technically-minded friend recommends that they disable Java in their browser. Somewhat like ham and hamster, with no prior knowledge the user has no idea that the technologies are entirely different.

I've personally had to help a number of people out who have mistakenly disabled JavaScript. That was the impression I got.


<proselytizing> Software needs to empower the user. Writing arbitrary limitations in to code to make certain functionality harder to achieve is a seriously repulsive attitude for developers to have.

The current trend in removing features from software seems like a great way to have a dire shortage of engineers in 50 years time. The attitude that "software is a magic and untouchable black box, you can only use it to do the specific thing the developer wants you to" destroys the true power of the computer as a tool, it might as well be a radio or a TV that incessantly produces other peoples ideas.

Write useful, empowering and well tested modular code. Let the user work out what crazy and wonderful ways they arrange those modules. Don't make changes that serve only to glob more functionality up in to impenetrable, monolithic black boxes. </proselytizing>

Also: Overriding peoples existing preferences during upgrade? Nice work guys :/


Have you ever actually met any normal users? They have work they need to do, and the software is just a means to an end.

They don't want to be 'empowered' by developers, and they definitely don't want to have to deal with arranging a bunch of poorly documented modules that make no sense if you are not familiar with the underlying architecture.


Then have another checkbox, something like "enable advanced settings (warning: if you don't know anything about cars, would you really mess with your car's breaks?)", that toggles the availability of these kinds of settings. Everybody wins.


We have that. It's called about:config.


Good point.


Your proselytizing reminds me of Alan Kay's idea (at least partly instantiated in Smalltalk) that there should be no fundamental difference between using a computer and programming. This is an interesting idea, but it's incredibly radical - I'm not sure even Kay realises how radical it is. As other people have said, a lot of people want to use a computer simply as a tool, to get on and do their work; that's because they have some definite "work" to do, and that work doesn't include exploring their computing system. Moving to Kay's vision would require abolishing this division of labour, right up to the fundamental division of labour between conception and execution, between means and ends. That is, to realise Kay's ideas of computer use we would have to establish a system with no distinction between work and creative activity: we would have to establish full communism.


Because people now realise that adding features is not necessarily a good thing. It adds complexity to both development and using the product. If there isn't a very good reason for it to be there, then it shouldn't be.

Evidently the firefox developers do not think there is a very good reason for disabling javascript to be in the general options, so they removed it.


In theory, to make way for new ones and to avoid clutter in the UI.


I haven't noticed any particular trend recently. It's a constant undercurrent.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Paradox-Choice-More-Less/dp/006000...

http://www106.pair.com/rhp/free-software-ui.html


It's good product design to cut options that allow your used to break your product.


It's a symptom of not really understanding the web or the browser.


I think a fair question to ask is, "If you do not understand the internet, should it be easy to disable javascript in your browser?"

As a person who uses noscript every day in FF, at first I thought this was a bad idea, but the more I think about the support aspect of this, the only time I think you really should turn off JS is when you understand enough to find the advanced options.


Yeah.

I hate javascript with a fiery passion. But I'm sensitive to (possibly real) arguments that people are accidentally disabling it because they start clicking random stuff in the 'content' tab of preferences. So move it to 'advanced' and call it a day.


It makes sense to me. You can't even do Internet banking these days without needing Javascript enabled and to disable it you'll always have the plethora of addons that allow you to disable Javascript anyway. I think this is a welcome removal from Firefox, it's 2013 not 1925, Javascript is everywhere.


Looks like the reason behind the move is that preferences UI has become incomprehensible ... which actually doesn't have anything to do with javascript. Perhaps a move towards Eclipse-like preferences would be a wiser choice?


Stop disabling Javascript, you Luddite. The entire web depends on it.


Classic Brendan Eich.


The thing is that non-expert users generally leave javascript on, because they don't even know what it is, let alone disabling it.


I'm surprised no one has posted this xkcd strip yet.

http://xkcd.com/1172/


Oh, and I didn't post this to bash the sincere concern about discoverable options. They could disable JS, and they still can, using an extension or going through a menu which clearly states that those configurations may break the 99% of the web.

Every change is prone to break someone's workflow. But if there is a good enough alternative and if the change is better for everyone, I think that should be left alone. If there was no way to disable JS after this update, I'd be pretty mad as well. But having an option deep enough to keep away from unsuspecting eyes is only sane.


WOOOOHOOOO Best knews I've heard for Firefox! Now if only every other browser would do it.


Maybe Firefox can replace it with a don't tender html checkbox </sarcasm>


The title isn't entirely accurate: it's been moved not removed.


many web sites don't work without cookies either, specifically the authentication.

if the functionality of "modern" sites is the only rationale, it is simply a wrong decision by Mozilla.


You can't make authentication to work safely without cookies because HTTP isn't stateful.


Look on the bright side. At least we'll never, ever have to hear about the Principle of Least Power again from Mozilla/HTML5 advocates lionising the "Open Web" against smartphone apps, Native Client or what have you.


About time. JS is an integral part of the web experience.


Not surprised. Mozilla, being an important entity in JavaScript ecosystem, obviously wouldn't disapprove web developers willing to shove JS down everyone's throat.


That spencer guy really sounds like a smartass; I mean, we're too stupid to be around him and not seeing the light that shines through his ass; vent off


It's about time.


Good!


I exclusively surf with javascript disabled by default. I only turn javascript on on websites that i trust or the site has to give a good reason to do so. i wont turn on javascript to display your crappy jquery menu or slideshow.

So many pages are totally broken without javascript. You dont need javascript to have a good layout, a complexe menu or display images. Yet some "professional" sites dont even work without javascript on, All you see is a blank page.

And by the way, there is a tag called noscript , but it seems webdesigners that only think about demonstrating their "html5" talents dont know their basics.

Javascript is the new flash. Stupid cheesy animations , heavy pages , memory leaks that kill your browser, javascript intros that you cant skip ,broken parallax scrolling , slow scrollbars so it feels like you are on ipad , it will be worse than flash when designers start abusing Adobe Edge on all their websites.

So long firefox...


Javascript, Flash, HTML 5, and virtually all the rest of the HTML "enhancements" are a cancer on the web.

Honestly, the only website that I can think of where using Javascript actually does something useful that I'd have a hard time doing better on a standalone app on my own machine is Google Maps, where it's nice to be able to scroll around by dragging the map with the mouse.

But even there, I'd gladly sacrifice that feature for a standalone mapping app on my own machine, so I don't have to worry about Google spying on me whenever I decide to go somewhere!

Geez. The web has become a gigantic spyware advertising network, and Javascript, Flash, and related garbage are some of the main enablers of it.

</rant>


May be that works for you. But a significant number of web developers are moving on JS frameworks for web development such Angular, Meteor, Node, etc. Most sites built on these frameworks will break is javascript is disabled. As an end user, that is the worst user experience you can ask for.


"Most sites built on these frameworks will break is javascript is disabled"

You know, there is a solution: the noscript tag. You know, the tag that lets you retain some level of functionality for people who do not have Javascript enabled.

Why should I have to expose myself to various security and privacy problems just because some web development framework cannot keep an old version working? There are a lot of reasons why someone might not have Javascript enabled, and they should not be shut off from large parts of the web. Should vision-impaired users who use TTS systems be shut off because your framework of choice thought that Javascript should be used to replace functionality that is built into the browser?


Yes, the noscript tag can be used. In fact if you see Rails' implementation of unobtrusive javascript, the application defaults to its html behaviour in case javascript is off. However, not all frameworks take this approach.

Moreover these days, developers don't develop for 100% of use cases. they start with implementation of say 80-85% of use cases. Folks not wanting to use javascript never come into that category, which means that noscript approach is almost never taken except may be in the case that the web application developed is targeted at that user category.

Lastly I would suggest this simple solution (http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/) to block all those pesky ads and pop-ups.


> Why should I have to expose myself to various security and privacy problems just because some web development framework cannot keep an old version working?

For a lot of sites and everything else coming up there is no old version. It's a Javascript app. Noscript could at best display an error, but if you're browsing around without Javascript you probably know enough that the error is on your end.


"Should vision-impaired users who use TTS systems be shut off because your framework of choice thought that Javascript should be used to replace functionality that is built into the browser?"

Unfortunately, that's about the scope of options most organizations entertain. If there's any degradation, it tends to lack grace and is on a par with a screenreader.

While I "like" javascript (OK, I like dynamic sites), if my machine seems slow, a cursory look at my running process will show a chrome or safari process that is inevitably getting dry humped by a page using js for a carousel or something equally banal.


So you're not OK with giving a site a fairly narrow range of sandboxed permissions, but you are OK with installing an opaque binary that can read, modify, transmit, and destroy nearly every piece of your data on your computer.


Who said anything about it having to be a binary?

You have heard of open source software that doesn't need a browser to run, haven't you?


Sure. Do you personally read through every line of source? Maybe you trust the repository managers to do so, and limit yourself to only very-popular projects - do you completely trust the trust-chain that lets them submit new code? Maybe you do - remember when RubyGems.org was hacked? Or when [many sites] lost their private crypto keys? What's to stop the same thing from happening, and pushing a critical update with an exploit? Maybe you reduce the frequency you check for updates to mitigate this kind of vulnerability - oops, now you're more vulnerable to new exploits.

If you're not watching every step, every time, you're gambling the same way you're gambling with malicious code in a browser (though I'll admit it's lower frequency). Your privacy/security is in the hands of whoever is part of the chain you trust, and their security practices, completely aside from new exploits that could affect you directly. Open Source, binary, it's all the same in the end unless you're perfect in your observational skills. Sandboxing limits that trust. I'll even grant that it's technically possible to do the same thing with processes in Unix, which you could be doing - but it's hard, error-prone, and essentially nobody does it except the stragglers who haven't switched to virtualization (which is essentially sandboxing).

You're being paranoid. With perfectly justifiable reasons - everything you listed is possible, plausible, and related things have actually happened. But you're not applying the paranoia evenly.


You are funny. IF you enter the destination in Google Maps, then of course Google knows your destination. JavaScript on or off... if you really want privacy you'll have to host it on your own or use offline navigation tools


I think you're missing my point.

I said: "I'd gladly sacrifice that feature for a standalone mapping app on my own machine, so I don't have to worry about Google spying on me whenever I decide to go somewhere!"

What I was trying to say was that I would prefer a standalone mapping application (ie. one that ran on my own machine and did not contact Google or any other site to work).

It just so happens that since I do not have such a standalone mapping application, I do resort to using Google Maps. And when I do, they do happen to have an actual useful use for Javascript, which is to allow the user to scroll the map with the mouse. But I'd gladly sacrifice that feature for a standalone (ie. not browser-based) mapping application that does not phone home to some spyware company like Google in order to work.


yes I've missed the point. but your description wasn't clear enough. It could have also meant standalone in the sense of a native app without the normal javascript spy ad ons..

> It just so happens that since I do not have such a standalone mapping application

feel free to try my open source graphhopper project btw ;)


TL;DR: Get off my lawn.

HN demonstrates good use of JS: AJAX voting. Forcing you to navigate to another page in order to vote is slow, annoying, and disruptive. Plenty of sites make good use of JS. For those who don't use NoScript.


Since I've switched mostly to a browser that doesn't support Javascript, I've stopped voting on HN.

Not voting is also a good way to avoid being tracked and pigeonholed.

It's true that if everybody did that, this site would be a lot less useful. However, I'm not convinced that some sort of anonymous yet secure and transparent voting system can't be implemented.

But, while voting requires enabling technolgy that will help others track and pigeonhole me, as well as make my system less secure, I'm going to avoid it.

Fortunately, HN is still readable without Javascript (even though it annoyingly doesn't indent threaded comments properly without it -- something that Slashdot manages to do just fine without requiring JS).


The Internet is a technology helping others track and pigeonhole you. Will you stop using it? And telephone? And everything? Seriously, everything can be "corrupted" to be used against you...


Youtube needs either Flash or HTML5, do you think it's worthless?


Youtube's use of Flash and HTML 5 is 100%, completely worthless!

There are a million youtube downloading apps out there that don't require me to even use a web browser to download videos from youtube. And, after they're downloaded (or even during the download), I can use any number of (non-browser-based) video players to watch them.

Youtube could make it even easier to download their videos by simply providing a direct link to the video in mp4 format. No Javascript, Flash, or HTML 5 required!


<object/> works well for playing video without any JavaScript.


<object/> is W3C gunk, with its crazy and pointless clsids. <embed> works fine, as it has for 14 years.


BTW: Did you already see this here ;)

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5968237


Try an extension? Power users aren't the target market for this decision, and that's why add-ons exist.


I fully agree with you, but that's why I use an addon that lets me allow JavaScript per-domain instead of having to allow every shitty social button to use the main functionality of the site, and it can even remember my preference.

Why would you use the global JavaScript disabler when there are much better options?


Honestly stop whinning so much. Javascript is just as important a part of the web as CSS. Would you complain if sites broke because you switched of CSS? Likely not.


And you stop abusing Javascript when it is not necessary because you want to show off.

When CSS is switched off content is still readable.

And dont worry , people will turn off javascript more and more like they turned off flash because of all the stupid stunts developpers pull.


I also surf without the Javascript enabled. It's much safer and faster that way. I suggest everybody to try that for a longer period of time before opining.

Most of the pages I visit function without Javascript. The most of sites where it doesn't that I know of are *.blogspot sites managed by Google.


Why wouldn't you use the NoScript extension? Not only does it give you fine grain control over JS but it adds additional security monitoring, such as click jacking.


Javascript is not required to read articles on the web. It's optional. That's why "Reader" mode is so handy, just show me the article so I can read it. Sometimes I don't like waiting for my browser to struggle with poorly written JS.

It sounds like a classic noobie mistake... "Why are users able to turn off Javascript?" "No idea." "Remove the feature!"

If anyone says Javascript is not optional, they are trying to sell you something: probably web apps!


> Javascript is not required to read articles on the web.

Unfortunately, it very much is. Nearly every website on the internet is completely useless without JavaScript.

I visited a large number of links from the HN front page, and many of them had broken navigation or images. You can't actually vote on HN itself either.


Hacker News sans voting is nowhere near completely useless. I strongly suspect that a majority of people who read HN don't even have accounts (and thus are unable to vote). And even if the posts do contain broken links/images, a fair amount of text is often still available; I think a site's textual content is often its most important feature (unless it's a site specifically geared toward images/interactive content).

The "1% Rule"[0] grew out of this idea -- the hypothesis it poses is that 89% of the users of a given internet forum are strictly lurkers. HN has a more tech-oriented population than many forums, so I bet the differences between groups are less extreme, but I also bet that the overall trend still stands.

[0]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%25_rule_(Internet_culture)


Right, but the change isn't targeting you, the hacker news reader. There's dozens of mom & pops out there who have no understanding how browsers work and when they disable javascript, they'll complain that firefox can't render pages as well as IE.


Which is two things to me: 1. not a tragedy that can never be fixed, but usually a minor inconvenience 2. one of those random opportunities to learn something, like in this case what Javascript is.

Taking away options from users because they don't know well enough can be kind of a self-full-filling prophecy, too. You cater to newbies, you get more and better newbies, entitled ones.

Stuff should be nice to use, of course, and shouldn't have friendly green buttons that makes it shoot knives at you etc. but it also shouldn't be less complex than it needs to be. If you have nothing left to take away you have perfection; if you still keep taking away stuff, you don't have even more perfection, you're just breaking things.

I never heard anyone complain that this option is there, or that it caused any trouble.. so what is this based on? Where are the petitions to remove this option that causes so much grief?

And why stop there? Imagine all the bad stuff you can do with the printer settings. Why are there options that allow people to waste ink, paper, or even maybe damage their printer? How many people threw away their printer, damaging the environment, because they thought it was broken... when all that happened was their cat walking over the keyboard and misconfiguring it? There might be actual kids choking on toxic fumes from those printers right now, nevermind the environment; and we worry about a website not working.

The Firefox options dialog is still kind of messy, and would be even if half of the options were removed. Take some leads from Opera :) Just taking away things doesn't automatically help, logically ordering them while also putting them in tiers of expertise does.

[By the way, all those keyboard shortcuts? They have to go, "hacker news readers" can get them back by editing an .ini setting -- the risk is just too great that someone might open the dev tools and then complain about weird rectangles on their screen, or to fail to convert because the website isn't as pretty as it could be]


You're a hacker, of course you've never heard anyone complain about the option. Mozilla may choose to differ as they probably have data that shows that a significant number of support emails show that disabling javascript was the root core of the problem. Besides, anyone who runs javascript disabled in a modern browser are either developers, or tin-foil hat wearers. I'm sure the ability to disable javascript was just an old remnant of 2002-era browsers when javascript was far less common. I think it's nearly impossible to find a webpage without a single reference to a javascript file these days.


You're a hacker, of course you've never heard anyone complain about the option.

Well, when people hear I'm good with computers they usually tell me all sorts of random computer troubles, but this one never popped up.

they probably have data that shows that a significant number of support emails show that disabling javascript was the root core of the problem

Are you sure? They seem to have data that most people don't use the option, and that seems to be all.

Besides, anyone who runs javascript disabled in a modern browser are either developers, or tin-foil hat wearers.

Or people who don't like staring at a white screen for several seconds because some ad scripts absolutely has to be loaded first, when they can have the exact same content, instantly, when browsing without Javascript. DSL still exists, you know. And it helps with noticing weight and skill differences where cable users might see none.

I also didn't get the memo that not providing a non-js fallback for normal day to day web stuff is not kind of noobish. Though I could point you to a host of articles pointing out the opposite, and they are fresher than 2002, too, and not from that usability guy with the ugly website either :P

I think it's nearly impossible to find a webpage without a single reference to a javascript file these days.

You will find a million that work without it, and even more that could work without it if they weren't made by [insert random expletive here].

Wikipedia? Works just fine. Search? Works fine. Facebook? I don't use it anymore, but I remember when it worked fine without JS as well, minus chat and instant notifications (oh god, the horror of only hearing about a new message on a page refresh ^^). Twitter? Breaking Twitter sounds like a good plan, not like a problem. But I digress.


You really do not want to be explaining Javascript to my mom and pop, or most others. (And yes, your parenthetical case at the end? It happened to me in just the last two weeks; coincidence, yes, but it did.)


You really do not want to be explaining Javascript to my mom and pop, or most others

Sadly, my mom doesn't go clicking around in the options dialog, no matter how much I encourage her ^^ Hardly in my presence, not ever in my absence.

But even if it was otherwise; explaining that "this needs to stay on or many websites won't properly function" while pointing out the options she might want to change, would be enough? I mean, you don't even have to understand Javascript to code in it, much less to be aware of the toggle... ?

We have roads with cars on them. People can walk into those roads, but don't. For many reasons, but none of them a deep understanding of biology or physics. If we fenced in all roads, we would avoid some of such accidents that are still happening - but would also raise people who need the fence from then on, because they're used to "wherever I can walk, there is no danger of being run over".

And yes, this also means looking someone who lost their child who ran into the road in the eye, and saying "I'm sorry for that, but it's still worth it to not fence everything in." Are we too squeamish for that? Since when are coders so scared of user complaints based on ignorance or using the software wrong? Don't those come with the terroritory?


> Javascript is not required to read articles on the web.

Agreed. However, the web consists of far more than just "articles", and quite a bit of content legitimately uses JavaScript for required functionality. Disabling it needs to have the kinds of huge "this will break things" warnings associated with installing an extension like NoScript; it shouldn't have a checkbox in Firefox's preferences.


I surf a lot of the web with javascript off.

Most of the time, the major content of a page doesn't require it. When it does, it is usually either poor design, or good design where the design is intended to display a bunch of crap I don't want and download a hoard of tracking data.

To put it another way, when I'm surfing, Google Analytics isn't doing anything in my interest.


Which is why NoScript is great: you can load the main site functionality without having to enable Analytics. The global enable/disable JS switch is just terrible for this kind of browsing, in my opinion.


I have a crazy idea: a popup with an explanation the first time the user toggles the feature.


That's a terrible idea. The explanation would have to be very long - practically an essay. And the only people that will understand the explanation (or even care) are folks who are competent enough to quickly google how to disable javascript through about:config.

Increased software complexity and no tangible benefit. Lose-Lose.


What? If you can't explain in one sentence the fact that disabling JS will break most websites and it should only be done if you know what you're doing, then you've got bigger problems.


And the 'people that know what they are doing' are the ones that know what about:config is, and how to Google for extensions to disable JavaScript. It's also arguable that an extension that provides an easy 'toggle JavaScript on/off' button is a much better interface than needing to dive into the preferences pane to disable JavaScript (and possibly re-enable it sometimes).


People will still do it without understanding and then complain that Firefox broke. There is no legitimate reason your average user should have access to this checkbox. Especially when if you actually want to disable Javascript it's still very easy.


People will still do it without understanding and then complain that Firefox broke.

If that is true, then point me to all those complaints.

There is no legitimate reason your average user should have access to this checkbox.

That's called kicking away the ladder, and fuck that with a rusty chainsaw. How are people supposed to even get curious about what Javascript is, when they never hear of it?


Somehow the dark corner of a preferences pane doesn't seem like the place anyone would choose for an introduction to Javascript.


That's the point, you don't choose when to first come across something you haven't heard of before. You don't wake up one morning and say "I guess I'll go to the library and get a book about Javascript" because you dreamed about it.

There are a million ways to display and to drill down into options that would make the FF options less cluttered, more logical, while having even more options than it does. There are ways to inform users pretty much exhaustively via built-in tooltips and documentation -- all of this has been working great in the 90s and got better since then. Icon > Title/Tooltip > Short Description > Verbose Description, so you learn everything you "stumble over" once when you need it, and from then on just use it, with the option to refresh your knowledge anytime.

Just compare about:config in Opera and Firefox, and simply accept we're dealing with different levels of skill and taste here, not just different choices.



It depends on the type of article. I write a lot of blog posts about math. The most convenient way to do this is using Mathjax. If browsers had native support for mathematical notation then I would be inclined to agree with you, but this is not currently the case.


Can you get away with using unicode chars instead? ... Sounds like this could be a good open source project.


I don't know how extensive Unicode math symbols are, but it's unclear to me how you would display things like matrices and do alignment of multiline equations.


I'm not sure either. But I know that you can do crazy things with unicode, and I'd bet that if you treated treated unicode as a sort of low-level compile-to target you could then design a high-level language from which to write math text. I'm not sure of the practical benefit and maybe this would be even more inaccessible to people... but still, I think JS is great, but wouldn't pure HTML and encodings be even cooler?

Food for thought: http://shapecatcher.com/ 🍏


And load fonts with JS?


Isn't that what MathML is meant to do? Browser support is incomplete, but it sounds like a perfect use case for a javascript polyfill, so you could make pages that would work with either native browser support or javascript.


I came here to wax rhapsodic about Reader mode too. It's my favorite web browser feature in half a decade.

The fact is that most web sites use JavaScript _and_ CSS in a user-hostile manner. CSS is used to draw the eye towards advertising or other content on the site, with the hope of distracting me from what I came to read. Many sites even use CSS to create a faux-popup overlay "window" that has to be dismissed before the content can be viewed.

And of course, the vast majority of JavaScript is aimed at analytics, tracking cookies, advertisements, and other code that, as a user, I'd really rather not execute.

My ideal solution is something like ClickToPlugin, where a site can request JavaScript, and I can choose to grant it or not. Mozilla's decision is disappointing, because they are working in the interest of web publishers instead of web users.


Ghostery is great at getting rid of most of that stuff and Adblock removes the rest; one can also disable Adblock per domain.

Click to play on plugins is great, Firefox should also have it builtin (as Chrome does).


Firefox

2002-2013




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