Tuesday, March 08, 2005

JavaScript switched on?

Jeremy Keith argues that an Ajax application should also work if JavaScript is switched off in the browser. I think this approach will not unlock the true value of Ajax applications. In the more advanced Ajax applications business logic will partly move to the client: this is similar to how client-server applications compare to mainframe applications. For simple form validation, search queries and the like it does make sense to have a non-JavaScript version. For applications where not every mouse-click is communicated to the server and client-side logic is executed, it might be very difficult to build a non-JavaScript equivalent. I believe the browser is capable of more than just displaying static pages with a little bit of interaction: the browser is a complete software development platform. There are even people who have created a complete execution stack, with its own command prompt.

2 Comments:

Blogger Grauw said...

I think if you want a backwards compatible web page with extensions, you should use Web Forms 2.0, or do a similar thing in Javascript. And yes, of course Web Forms 2.0 isn't finished yet, but heh, it will be at some point :). Because you're implementing with backwards compatibility or javascript disabled users in mind you can do things on the cutting edge while still reaching every single user.

However, if you really want to do new stuff, not just small extensions on the current HTML forms like pattern-matching form fields, you'll have to break out of the compatibility (in the case of XForms) or the Javascript-disabled users (in the case of Backbase). It is unfortunate perhaps, but certain things just can't be trivially done so that they degrade well if there's no support for the technology.

In which case it is most important to make an effort to spread the technology to as many users as possible. With regard to Backbase, it is a slim, client-side technology working on the major web browsers, so I think it does pretty well in that respect. I do not think there are many users with Javascript disabled, and those who do have usually consciously done so and know what they have to do in order to get things working. Besides, they certainly fall out of the 'mainstream user' category, which is usually who you're mostly aiming for anyway :).

6:15 PM  
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7:00 AM  

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