Re: [dev] [no js web]

From: Ciprian Dorin Craciun <>
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2020 21:43:07 +0200

> As some may already know I am sueing the french administration which recently
> (a couple of years) broke the support of no js web browsers.
> [...]

> Personally, I was much more scared of the DSP2 directive that basically made
> Google/Apple powered smartphones mandatory for online banking/shopping.
> [...]

Although both of the previous posters touch on valid issues -- and I'm
sure all of us could add at least one or two different items to this
list -- these are unfortunately only "singular data points" part of a
larger problem...

I think there is a broader issue here related to our "digitized
society", or better said to the way this digitization happened, it's
real world costs (not only in financial terms, but also user
accessibility, etc.) and the way it starts to leave behind large groups
of population (and more often than not these intersect a lot with
vulnerable groups).

In my country (although an EU member, the least "digitized" of them
all, although we are in the top 10 in the world when it comes to
broad-band speed and accessibility) these issues are exacerbated a

* sites that contain useful information don't survive more than a
couple of years; (sometimes the Internet Archive can help, sometimes
it can't even snapshot a certain site;)

* some sites rely on Flash, others don't work at all if you have
JavaScript disabled or even cookies disabled;

* if there is a software that one has to use, it works only on Windows
(a certain version of it);

* if there is a PDF "form" that one has to submit, it works only with
Adobe Acrobat, which works only on Windows and OSX; (the Linux
version was abandoned a couple of years ago;)

* the documents (laws, and similar) that are posted are most likely a
PDF with scanned images; (rarely I've seen a PDF with actual text;)

* if there are backoffice systems (like for national health system),
these often break and disrupt those in need of those services;

Therefore I think that the EU (or any other governing body), W3C, EFF
and other public organizations should actually get together and think
on how to better solve the underlying issue of having a truly
digitized society:

* where the published documents are in a **standard** and **simple**
format that can be easily implemented or even "read" by the human
without any other software; (for example text-based with nothing more
complex than sections, paragraphs, lists and links;)

* where applications (frontends or downloadable, thus not backends)
are written in such a way that they maximize portability, stability
and longevity; (for example a plain HTML form from 20 years ago still
works without a trouble in modern browsers, perhaps even in Lynx, but
a Flash-based application, let alone a compiled Windows one, can't be
even run these days...)

* where accessibility (both for the disabled, the elderly, and those
with limited access to internet and electronic devices) is the focus,
not an after-thought;

* obviously everything must be as transparent as possible (i.e.
open-source or similar);

* among other ancillary (but very important issues) would be:
authentication, auditing, long term archival, off-line download of
one's data, etc.

Although, being pessimistic, I don't think we'll ever reach such a
state of affairs, certainly not in my life-time, for a couple of
simple reasons:

* competency -- the governments aren't even aware that any of the
above are real issues, and unfortunately consultants working for those
governments are interested on bottom lines and sales, not actual

* eye candy -- if I were to give a random group of people (that are
accustomed to Facebook, YouTube, etc.) two applications with similar
functionality, one written in JavaScript with React / Angular (or even
Flash) and one based on plain HTML forms from 20 years ago, although
they will have similar functionality, ordinary people will choose (and
demand) eye-candy and don't care (because they don't know as the
governments) the implications of all the complexity it brings with;

* software vendors (SAP, Microsoft, IBM, HP, etc.) -- they prefer
writing complex, thus unstable, unreliable, and easily
obsoleted applications because they make money out of it via two
mechanisms: first the initial development and deployment cost, and
then the on-going maintenance cost;

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,
Received on Thu Feb 20 2020 - 20:43:07 CET

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