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Carsten Agger agger at
Fri Jan 19 10:21:10 UTC 2018

On 01/19/2018 06:04 AM, Paul Hänsch wrote:

> And note, with this I'm only defending JavaScript for building user
>> interfaces, which I think is far too powerful a tool to be discarded;
>> generally, the Web is far too powerful a technology to be discarded.
> I believe this is a great misunderstanding. Scaling websites to different
> screen sizes, building menues, building responsive dialogs, play video, etc.
> does not require the use of JavaScript. For building user interfaces it is
> simply a sign of bad quality. Web standards to enable those features have been
> around for at least half a decade, and are nowadays well supported by
> browsers. Yet websites are increasingly forcing users to enable JavaScript for
> the most mundane features, just to remain usable. Many web services associated
> with Free Software make no exception, and are in my view a big part of the
> problem.
I think that our different viewpoints may be due to the fact that, as a 
web developer, I normally don't think of web sites as places to find 
information, but as programs. This program may, of course, be a CMS like 
Drupal or Plone, and in that case, no JavaScript is actually needed 
(even though the Plone guys are currently building a new JS-only 
interface called Pastanaga which is also a user experience project).

However, that limits the user interaction to the old GET/SUBMIT cycle. 
With JavaScript, it's possible to do everything you can do in a desktop 
application, within the limits of the sandbox. This gives us online 
applications such as LibreOffice Online, Etherpad, etc.

Indeed, one interesting paradigm is the new single-page-applications, 
i.e., no HTML pages are served by the server at all, the whole user 
interface is built up client-side in JavaScript, and the server only has 
to serve the data itself using e.g. a REST API.

If the application is available in a non-minified version, I think this 
is just as transparent and easy to inspect and debug (using browser 
tools like Firefox' Inspect facility) as desktop application (which can, 
indeed, be notoriously difficult to build from source). In other words, 
I don't see that technology (building user interfaces client-side, in 
JavaScript) as evil per se, and I see it as no more problematic for 
freedom than using compiled desktop applications with the source code 
available. The issue with patching changing code also arises with the 
constant updates send out, e.g., by Debian.

So - I don't see the use of JavaScript *per se* as problematic or in any 
way a threat to software freedom.

*Proprietary* JavaScript, however, as served by Google or Facebook or 
other proprietary software vendors, are another matter altogether. They 
do indeed violate users' freedom.


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