Boost logo

Boost :

From: William E. Kempf (williamkempf_at_[hidden])
Date: 2002-09-09 14:33:52

From: "Rozental, Gennadiy" <Gennadiy_at_[hidden]>
> > I fell strongly we should ban Javascript from Boost web pages and ask
> > developers to remove all Javascript immediately.
> >
> > The practical effect of Javascript in documentation is that
> > it can only be
> > viewed with certain web browsers, and those pages cannot be reliably
> > printed.
> I do not believe that is true.

You continue to make this argument, despite users giving you real world
cases where the current Javascript usage doesn't work for them. This
boggles me. I've done quite a bit of HTML development and fully understand
the uses for Javascript, and how to make the Javascript portable. The fact
of the matter is that a lot of Javascript requires extensive tweaking to
make it work for target browsers. Boost documentation must target ALL
browsers, making this sort of usage extremely difficult, nearly impossible
for any of us to do, and a nightmare to manage. I agree that Javascript
should be banned. (Well, to be fair, I can envision a few cases where
Javascript can be beneficial and can be done in a manner that's 100%
portable, even to browsers that don't support Javascript. So a hard ban may
be extreme, but if that's what's needed to prevent Javascript from being
abused, as I think it is now, then I'll vote for a total ban.)

> 1. Browsers conformance to Javascript standard is good enough in most
> (it's better then let say C++ compilers conformance to C++ standart).
> Especially if you limit to use only Javascript 1.2.

Again, real world examples have shown you to be wrong numerous times
already. People do all sorts of things with the HTML, not all of it using a
browser at all, and the presence of Javascript, if not VERY carefully
controlled, can render these uses impossible. I've yet to see a beneficial
use of Javascript in any of the documentation submitted to Boost. The uses
so far fall under two categories: "Golly gee whiz bang" features, such as
the rollup menu, which serve no purpose other than to be eye candy, or to
send repetetive HTML to the output stream, which sounds like a legitimate
use, but there are ways to remove the repetitive nature here with out
resorting to the non-portable Javascript usage.

> 2. Even with Javascript 1.5 it's pretty easy to write "portable" code.

That explains why you've got code to detect the browser in your Javascript?
Sorry, but this stuff isn't really portable, and "portable" usage means
detecting the browser, which in and of itself is often done in a manner
that's not 100% fool proof, is likely to break with the next version of the
browsers, and won't cover all target browsers in any event (since Boost is
totally open on this).

> 3. Javascript is essential tool manage repetitive tasks. In this since it
> is as important as usage of external style sheets.

Style sheets can't be compared to JS. Style sheets are 100% compatible for
all browsers/tools, since they can simply be ignored with no ill effect.
And as I've pointed out, there are better, more portable means of dealing
with repetitive tasks then using JS.

> 4. Javascript is essential tool for enhancing docs readability. For
> Preprocessor docs hides bulky example to prevent obscuring reference page
> content. Note that MSDN site doing the same.

"Hiding" documentation may make the online docs easier to read (I should
have emphasised *may*, as that's debatable), but it interferes with printing
and other tasks. On the other hand, documentation that never attempts these
"whiz bang display" enhancements are generally easier to deal with for all
other tasks, and is debatably easier to use even for online documentation

> 5. Problems with printing in most cases does not related to Javascript but
> to the styling.

I don't agree. The use of Javascript can render printing impossible to do,
especially when the printing is done with out a browser with tools like an
HTML to Postscript utility.

> 6. According to recent info in net ~95-97 present of browsers domain is
> covered by ie and clones. Among the developers numbers are different of
> course but ie still prevail I think. All others browsers try to keep up
> de facto standard ie. Though I would not want to discuss this point too
> much.

I'm glad you said that, because usage patterns like this mean NOTHING to
this context. If I were designing an online website for banking, for
instance, I might be swayed by such data, but if there's a single Boost user
who can't make use of the documentation because of Javascript, well...
that's one user too many.

> Since You did not provide a real reasons for banning javascript, may be we
> could consider giving it at least some chances to be usable?

Javascript has generated enough heat with out it ever becoming part of an
actual release. I can just imagine the trouble we'll see if it goes out in
a release. I'm not at all interested in wading through the complaints we're
likely to see on the mailing lists at that point.

Sorry, I agree with the others here... let's eliminate Javascript before it
becomes a much bigger issue.

Bill Kempf

Boost list run by bdawes at, gregod at, cpdaniel at, john at