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Why JavaScript at all?

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2001 10:06:40 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

This was originally posted (by me) on TRACE's 508 list, and David
Poehlman suggested it could be useful to some people here, so here
it is:

At 10:23 AM 7/13/2001 , Liz Roberts wrote:
>Why is JavaScript relied on so heavily at the 508 Universe site?
>What is the value of having JS when it seems server side could deliver the
>same content and functionality in a more reliable, smaller, (and from what I
>can see) flexible way?

I can't speak for the 508 Universe site, but I can tell you
why JavaScript is used even when there are perfectly reasonable
and far more universal server-side solutions.

Simply:  JavaScript is easier for the developer.

(Back to user-centric vs. developer-centric AGAIN!)

Why is it easier?

1.  A developer can write JavaScript without access to a server;
     this means she can learn it, and create it, with just a web
     browser and her web editor.  (To do server-side coding she
     needs a web server!)

2.  JavaScript "feels" more universal to the developer, because
     she doesn't have to worry about what server it runs on.
     If she writes an application in JavaScript, she can put it
     on ANY web server out there and the specifics of the server
     type and configuration are not a variable.  (Server-side coding
     is very dependent upon the type of server you're running on --
     is it Apache? Is it IIS? Is it on Unix, on NT? Etc.)

3.  Server-side programming is slightly more difficult to learn
     than JavaScript, and may involve dealing with configuration
     variable and commands and stuff, rather than just things which
     happen inside the browser.

So this is why JavaScript is routinely used instead of a more
universal server-side approach.

But is it right?

I say no -- because basically what you're doing here is making a
decision that the developer's convenience is at the center of the
universe, and not the user.  That is very dangerous and is the
cause of web sites failing to deliver, because they become 
narcissistic exercises which forget their purpose and who they
are trying deliver services to.


PS:  I'm not against JavaScript or client-side coding at all; I
      am simply against JavaScript or client-side coding which 
      is chosen _only_ because it makes some web developer's
      job easy at the expense of the user's convenience and
      reliability of access.  It is _perfectly_ possible to create
      user-centric JavaScript which is accessible and usable --
      all it requires is the right mindset in which the needs of
      the many (the users) are -not- outweighed by the needs of
      the few, or the one (the developer).  My beef is with any
      sort of developer-centrism, not with JavaScript itself.

Kynn Bartlett  <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                http://kynn.com/
Technical Developer Liaison, Reef             http://www.reef.com/
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain Internet   http://idyllmtn.com/
Online Instructor, Accessible Web Design     http://kynn.com/+d201
Received on Sunday, 15 July 2001 13:07:49 UTC

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