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This is a great question and one I've thought about a great deal.
Chances are, that for an application delivered over the internet, the users have bought in to using your software. If they have accepted the fact that they are going to use it, they might need to make some concessions.
Remember - regular desktop software makes lots of demands on the end user - platform, CPU speed, #of colors, RAM, etc.
The list of System Requirements is complex. If you don't have that system, you can't use that program.
The beauty and the promise of the internet is that everyone should be able to see everything, which is true to some extent. However, if you are delivering complex software NOT for general usage, you can be selective.
Hence, in my applications, for Netscape,I don't support anything less than Netscape 7. If you have NN6, and want to use my program, you have to upgrade, or don't use my program. My feelings aren't hurt.
I could go on and on about this topic, but I think my thinking is clear. (?!)
I read somewhere that about 40% of users don't have the flash/shockwave plug-in installed
Yes, it is a bit off-topic but the basic principle is the same. However, 40% is much too high a number, unless your source was talking about the LATEST version of the plug-in. Flash in some form has been automatically bundled with the major browsers since version 3 and has well over a 90% market, all told.
When I have a link that opens in a new window, I've first created the function -- let's call it popUp() -- and then I write the anchor tag so that user agents without JS will still get the material, but in the same window. It goes like this:
<a href="newpage.html" onClick="popUp('newpage.html');return false;">Link</a>
There is a difference, in my opinion, between regular "websites" and web-based applications.
This is absolutely critical. You aren't going to do complex math with a bare-bones browser. But it's very unlikely that those UA's will even want to use your application in the first place.
Most users don't even know how to turn it off. Only advanced webmasters can do this.
Yes. Advanced webmasters. And paranoids. Paranoids with things to lose. Like money. You want their money, don't you? :)
---This number includes surfers, search engine robots, e-mail address harvesters, etc. - all user-agents---
Guess the answer would be 99.9% then. That's what I was looking for.
Thanks tedster for the additional insights on a number of issues
The site I was roped into is a public service site. Doesn't sell a thing and most of the users are seniors. We have put a linked text menu at the bottom of the pages
There comes a point where you have to consider whether stopping to pick up every stray puppy or kitten, and this industry is full of them, is a productive concern.
To do this, I have the "Internet Zone" set to disable Active Scripting.
(referring to IE6 on WinXP)
There comes a point where you have to consider whether stopping to pick up every stray puppy or kitten
Well said, rc. With today's tools you can often create a site improvement that better serves 90%-95% of your audience. By giving those visitors a better experience, you can increase conversions significantly and the 5%-10% you miss are more than compensated for by the increase you get. Your decision is whether you draw the line at 85%, 90%, 95%.
But if you don't draw the line somewhere... The amount of development and maintenance overhead involved with complex browser sniffing and DOM sniffing gets very bad. Any software developer stops support at some point, and so should websites.
In the past year or so, it's become sane to drop NN4 worries in most cases, and that includes the antiquated object model for js. There is, at long last, an evolving convergence on standards for basic functionality that is extremely helpful. Instead of needing fork after fork in a browser sniffer or DOM sniffer, things are simplifying.
My only concern is that Microsoft intends to create a new "fork" for IE support in the near future, now that their stand-alone browser is a goner. That is one very competitive company, and I really don't expect them to play nice, just because they had a public wrist slap. But I'd be extremely pleased to see that I'm wrong about this.
Pronouncements like this really bug me because they have a way of getting picked up and carried along by non-experts and lead to all kinds of misunderstandings and serve the general internet user very poorly.
Duckula - What on earth are you talking about?
What on earth are you talking about?
Even if not all of them do it, I'd speculate the percentage should be enough to care about not losing these sales. Therefore, needing to care enough for them to make possible to use the site without js.
That's what I think, I don't have numbers to back me up.
they have a way of getting picked up and carried along by non-experts and lead to all kinds of misunderstandings and serve the general internet user very poorly
I agree on that. But, still, it's silly having a scripting engine turned on when it is not needed. And it is an unnecesary risk, even if it is not exploited as much as buffer overflows are. I think I've let out my programmer side and played it safe. Anyway, the only way to solve this particular case, from my point of view, is with precise numbers of how many *buyers* (not visitors) have js on. </added>
[edited by: Duckula at 3:41 am (utc) on Aug. 19, 2003]
The security model is very complete in Mozilla especially. For example, a script has to ask for specific permissions (with a dialog box, always) to read or write preferences, read the history object, and other security hazardous tasks, and the permissions only apply to the script they were given to and then expire. There are many other examples like this that hilite the security of a good JS implementation.
But IE security vulnerabilities come in all shapes and sizes...they have them in just about everything they touch, it seems...but don't worry...there is a hotfix on the way. ;0
My line in the sand; every 18 months or so I order a new 'doorbuster' desktop from Dell, pull it out of the box, and plug it in. Code for that.
I'd worry more about 'resolution creep' than js.