Supporting A Static Web

A number of bad actors on the web are taking advantage of the ease advertisers have in injecting JavaScript into websites, forcing visiting computers into mining various cryptocurrencies while the people operating those machines are unaware of the activities. The method behind this madness is rather slick, as the cost of using Google's DoubleClick ad distribution service is much lower than the amount of revenue generated from the hundreds to thousands of computers crunching the numbers necessary to create the blockchain-based wealth. And, while this activity is not illegal as far as I am aware, it's very scummy and reeks of criminal intent. So much so, that some security companies have started repeating their suggestion that people disable JavaScript in their browsers — an action that would make as much sense to some people as rotunding the rig diggler would to most readers of this article.

JavaScript is far from perfect, but it's certainly enabled a world of possibilities with its relative simplicity and wide acceptance. Just about any browser developed in the last 15 years supports it out of the box, and just about anyone with the intent can sit down and learn the basics in an afternoon. It's through the use of JavaScript that that a lot of people are introduced to programming, and it's through the use of JavaScript that a lot of websites can do interesting things. For all the problems disabling JavaScript in our browsers might solve, a slew of new ones would pop up. But maybe this is what's required for the web going forward. There are too many developers doing stupid things without explicit permission on our computers via the ridiculously optimistic JavaScript engines that reside in all of our browsers. Disable JavaScript and all of a sudden a lot of ads will disappear. A lot of complex tracking will become impossible. Our computers will not be coerced into mining cryptocurrencies, revealing potentially sensitive information via CPU bugs, or performing other less-than-ideal tasks without our knowledge.

But this will break a lot of the websites we frequent.

Should browsers leave JavaScript disabled by default, leaving people to enable it on a site-by-site basis? Perhaps. This likely wouldn't solve the issues, though, as most people are simply unaware of the dangers inherent in using the web and would prefer to leave things on by default. That said, I plan on making a more concerted effort in ensuring sites I develop going forward can be operated without the use of JavaScript.

A lot can be done with simple HTML and CSS as it is, and many of the themes used by 10C do not rely on excessive amounts of JavaScript for things beyond listing and filtering archives, comments, and fancy menu actions. All of these should also be made to work without JavaScript, and I'll do this going forward. The trick will be with the Administration themes, as these are often written as rich applications that interact quite often with the 10C API. These admin panels may be the only exception to the rule for now, but it'll be important to try and make many of the functions a little more HTML4 compliant to satisfy the needs of people who do opt to use their browsers with JavaScript disabled by default.