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Re: Why JavaScript at all?

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001 22:51:19 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200107162151.f6GLpJX12925@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Javascript is one of the very few tools that is 'free', and it also does not

That's not relevant to most of the web sites that cause most problems
with it as they will be using either expensive Javascript debugging
tools or high level web site creation tools that output canned Javascript.

For Windows, VBScript is also available at no extra charge over the
operating system and is better suited to doing things under Windows.
The real advantages of Javascript, once you accept the security problems,
problems for search engines and mechanical processing in general,
and the limited number of supporting browsers associated with client
side solutions, is that it is not restricted to Internet Explorer and
that it does make some attempt to impose a security policy, albeit one
that has been frequently breached, making it slightly safer than

The underlying browser and document object models are characteristics of
the browser, not the scripting language; VBScript sees the same object

Also, nearly all the server side scripting tools are even more free than
Javascript in that the source code is available.

There are also free tools for creating native Windows applications.
And the command line Java development tools are free (although, again,
commercial developers will almost never use the free tools in the same
way as they will never code Javascript in a text editor).

> have a steep learning curve.

There are subtleties in the core language that very few people ever
learn, and the object models are a perennial source of "how to" and
browser compatibility questions.  A large proportion of JS programming
is actually cut and paste coding, whether it is using an authoring
tool with canned fragments or copying parts of another page, blindly.

The bundling of Javascript support does, however, demonstrate one of the
problems with the web in that people generating amateur pages or testing
the water fail to use some of the powerful features of the web, not
because they have not been implemented, not even because there is a charge
for the implementations, but because ISPs make sufficient access to the
server to configure them expensive (especially when you may get several
MB of dumb web space bundled with a domain name or connectivity).

Because people can't play with them on personal accounts, they are not
well known to them when they start creating professional web sites.
What I'm particularly thinking about are redirection, done properly, 
and content negotiation, and possibly refined cacheing control.

One ends up in a situation where some of the people potentially most
motivated to use language negotiation don't know it exists or wouldn't
be prepared to pay the full commercial web space rates to allow it to
be configured, and bi-lingual web sites fail to specify the character
code of their contents.

(There is also a significant one tool mentality in the popular computing
world, which results in everything being done in "HTML" (quotes intended).)
Received on Monday, 16 July 2001 18:28:09 UTC

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