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View Poll Results: Is it safe to say "AJAX or nothing"?

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Thread: AJAX Or Nothing

  1. #1
    ✯✯✯ silver trophybronze trophy php_daemon's Avatar
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    AJAX Or Nothing

    Perhaps there is no person that could question the benefits that AJAX brings to the user interface. It literally brings a website to a new level.

    There are issues, however, that holds us back. The main issue is of course search engine optimization. But that's another story.

    What I wanted to discuss is whether is it safe to introduce AJAX to your design without the alternative way of usage? Is it safe to say "AJAX or nothing"? The absolute majority of Internet users use JS enabled browsers and have no problems using AJAX based interface. What other issues should we take into account while deciding whether should we keep the "classical" interface or leave AJAX alone at all?
    Saul

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    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    If you use something that is not inherently accessible, then you should provide an accessible alternative.

    Build the form to work without any extra stuff (like JavaScript) first. Then add bells and whistles. It's not that hard, really.

    If you have an 'application' thing on an intranet, it might be different, but for a public audience web site, you should make sure it works for as many visitors as possible. IMHO.
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    ✯✯✯ silver trophybronze trophy php_daemon's Avatar
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    Yes, indeed. But perhaps my real question is whether it is safe to say that JS is no longer extra stuff? There's just a tiny percentage of people that use browsers not capable of working with it.

    It is not that straightforward to build an interface working with both. When it comes to AJAX based interface it's double work to do both and sometimes not even possible. Take youtube as an example, it doesn't even play videos with JS disabled (although that may just be a sign of bad coding, but...).

    I've been thinking a lot about it lately and am wondering isn't it a time to move forward. It is rather harsh approach however, but just like in moving from PHP4 to PHP5 -- it must be done eventually.
    Saul

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    The Mind's I ® silver trophy Dark Tranquility's Avatar
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    Well IMO you can't consider that JavaScript is always available!! This not the case at all for the moment at least I believe what Tommy suggested is the best option! a simple regular form that will work even when the javascript is not available and they "Ajaxify" it if you want.
    Sometimes visitors are not using Javascript-capable browsers, sometimes they are behind a script blocking firewall so even if their browsers are JS capable the script won't work for them!
    May be you should read these articles by Ian Lloyd:
    - http://www.webstandards.org/2006/10/...o-crack-a-nut/
    - http://www.webstandards.org/2006/04/...breaking-apps/
    - http://lloydi.com/blog/2006/09/29/bl...is-broken-now/

    Those are articles exhibiting some accessibility errors made by some very known guys just because they are totally relying on Javascript!
    and they forgot that for some reason or another their Javascripts are not executed...

    Roger Johansson sums up the whole issue in a very nice way!

  5. #5
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    inaccessible pages

    Statistics can be misleading, but it seems that the percentage of non-javascript users is around 10% fairly consistently for the last few years. http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp
    So I would say No, it is not safe to consider javascript as not being extra stuff. At least not for the 10%.
    Quote Originally Posted by php_daemon
    double work to do both
    Every profession has areas that require "extra" work to ensure that it is done correctly. When you try to use logic to rewrite reality so as to justify "short-cuts" you only fool yourself.
    Quote Originally Posted by php_daemon
    sometimes not even possible.
    You're not trying hard enough. Or maybe you're going about things in the wrong order. If you put together the content first, you have it. Then work on ways to enhance (eg. AJAX) the users experience.

  6. #6
    The Mind's I ® silver trophy Dark Tranquility's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mittineague View Post
    Statistics can be misleading, but it seems that the percentage of non-javascript users is around 10% fairly consistently for the last few years. http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp
    So I would say No, it is not safe to consider javascript as not being extra stuff. At least not for the 10%.
    And as I said before you can have JavaScript capable browser but the scripts won't get executed for a reason or another like Firewalls for instance
    so it is really more than 10% in my opinion

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    ✯✯✯ silver trophybronze trophy php_daemon's Avatar
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    Thanks for all your responses.

    It turns out that the issues are a lot more relevant than I thought. The content always comes first of course, can't escape that. But I was thinking about less public parts of the website or perhaps the parts of a less importance. For example such trivial things as posting a comment or rating an article, browsing user comments while having a video played on a page, etc. All this of course fails without JS being available or being blocked. To solve this problem, there should be an alternative interface.

    On the other hand, maybe it just needs a push? If we give it up to strict security policies, it's not gonna make it through. However, I agree that such an important parts as user login should be left as simple as possible and a site can't be fully based on AJAX alone, not to mention SEO.
    Saul

  8. #8
    Cha, Cha, Cha!!! Gamermk's Avatar
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    The biggest issue with accessibility is that it really does become a feature when you don't create your form in the correct order.

    The amount of time to create a regular old no javascript required form is rather minor. You can then move to AJAX for bells and whistle.

    However...

    If you jump the gun and make the whole form in AJAX and then say to the boss, "okay I gotta make the non-javascript version". He'll likely say... "Nope, you are done. It works fine for me."

    Cost is never an issue if you start on the right foot. Unfortunately, many programmers don't.
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  9. #9
    ✯✯✯ silver trophybronze trophy php_daemon's Avatar
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    Hm, I'm talking about the point when it's not just the bells and whistles, i.e. when it's the base for some parts of the interface. The features that are not possible to implement without the AJAX at all. And that, if not possible to build solely on AJAX, may not be worth the effort at all.

    In other words, we ain't going nowhere by looking back.
    Saul

  10. #10
    Cha, Cha, Cha!!! Gamermk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by php_daemon View Post
    Hm, I'm talking about the point when it's not just the bells and whistles, i.e. when it's the base for some parts of the interface. The features that are not possible to implement without the AJAX at all. And that, if not possible to build solely on AJAX, may not be worth the effort at all.
    Could you possibly give us an example of such a problem.
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  11. #11
    ✯✯✯ silver trophybronze trophy php_daemon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gamermk View Post
    Could you possibly give us an example of such a problem.
    YouTube is a great example. It doesn't even play videos with JS disabled. Click on some video and check the comments while it's playing, browse through the pages of the comments, check the related videos, videos of the same user tabs. You can browse quite a lot while still being on the same page and watching the same video. All this would be also possible perhaps using iframes, but is that really a good idea? And how would you go about implementing them as an alternative at all? That's what I'm talking about and what is literally "AJAX or nothing".
    Saul

  12. #12
    Cha, Cha, Cha!!! Gamermk's Avatar
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    I'm certain that it would be possible to set up YouTube so that it would play videos with JS disabled. (and it rightfully should as well) You have to understand that just because the JS disabled version can't act exactly the same as the JS version doesn't mean that its "AJAX or nothing" as you put it. JS is a convenience. When its disabled things aren't going to work with the same elegance and you'll probably have to jump between pages a lot more, but you should still be able to access the content.

    Can you think of a better example than YouTube?
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  13. #13
    ✯✯✯ silver trophybronze trophy php_daemon's Avatar
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    Of course the videos should play, but that's not what I mean. I mean that the content is of course there (or maybe some part of it is not), but you definitely will not see it while watching the video. That's pretty good example IMO. And without the AJAX it's absolutely different experience, that's why I'm saying "AJAX or nothing" -- what there would be left of YouTube without it, even if the videos played?

    I could think of more examples but the idea is still the same: it is difficult to implement the alternative to some AJAX features if possible at all. Thats when the question arises, whether to take a step further and use it at it's full or hold it back and give up the features that may bring user experience to a new level.
    Saul

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mittineague View Post
    Statistics can be misleading, but it seems that the percentage of non-javascript users is around 10% fairly consistently for the last few years. http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp
    While at http://www.thecounter.com/stats/ it seems that the number with Javascript disabled is steadily decreasing this year. They now report only around 4% have it disabled.

    Remember, w3schools is NOT a typical site, it's users are fellow geeks like us. With odd habits.

  15. #15
    Cha, Cha, Cha!!! Gamermk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by php_daemon View Post
    Of course the videos should play, but that's not what I mean. I mean that the content is of course there (or maybe some part of it is not), but you definitely will not see it while watching the video. That's pretty good example IMO.
    I guess where this example is breaking down for me is that when I go to YouTube all I generally care about is the video. I'm not looking all over the screen or scrolling all over the place, I'm just watching. Regardless, they could make the video play and still have the content all there.

    I may be trying your patience, but I'd welcome more examples of how you feel JS disabled ruins the experience to such an extent that its not worth having. Perhaps if you elaborated on the particular reason behind why you posted this thread in the first place more than I might understand better.
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    ✯✯✯ silver trophybronze trophy php_daemon's Avatar
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    The reason behind all this lunacy mine is that I'm working on a site which has a member area based on AJAX (think GMail), and I'm thinking should I implement an alternative non-AJAX based interface (like GMail has) or let it go. It's having two different interfaces and letting users to choose in the end, and although it's not that big as GMail is, it still takes effort.
    Saul

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    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    IMO, It depends how many people are using it. If it's on an intranet where you know who will be using it then you may be able to justify an exclusive AJAX solution - but as long as you have the WWW accessing your site they need to be able to... access it

  18. #18
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    An additional example to ponder is the click-and-drag movement of UI elements such as dashboard portlets. I notice that the Google personalized homepage/dashboard requires JS... even though I can think of a few (clunky) ways around it... and even though to my mind Google's audience is a very broad spectrum of users.... I think it's an interesting choice on their part. Not one I would have chosen, I think.

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    SitePoint Enthusiast simonpointer's Avatar
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    My goodness, we do all get wrapped up in the details so much that we loose the big picture don't we!!

    The reality here is that AJAX relies specifically on client side capabilities, and using it means that you are making significant assumptions about what the user has, and how they are able to use it.

    You are right that many users have highly capable visual devises with multiple plug ins and scripting functionality, however, we are never going to know exactly what users do or dont have on the client side, and we are also never going to be able to predict what will be available in the future.

    If you want to build highly accessible sites and applications that work across browsers, platforms, user capability and in the future, then I am afraid relying on client side capability is a no go. (What are you going to do when your user wants to use your site on a PDA, cell phone or the TV?)

    My feeling is that AJAX will be short lived, and with the plethora of differemt ways to access the net increases and diversifies we will all have to push more functionality server side, and make client side things completely optional.

    I guess for now we have to ask if what we are doing is really necessary and in the users best interests, if we are just pandering to our "look what i can do" ego then I think it is a bad idea. Try to differenciate yourself another way.

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    I don't think Ajax will be short lived – it's been around for quite some time after all, although only recently under that name.

    Ajax can be very useful for providing progressive enhancement. It can increase efficiency and usability, when used properly. The important thing, of course, is that you must not rely upon it. There should always be a server-side fallback. That's Accessibility 101.
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    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    There's nothing wrong with an alternative non-AJAX interface, even if it's clunkier. If you can get the same thing done but you have to jump through an extra step or two I don't think it's a big deal.

  22. #22
    SitePoint Enthusiast tuxidomasx's Avatar
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    you cant please everybody. if i wanted to make a site without assuming anything about the user or their system, i'd have an all-text site.

    really, is it any different than assuming everybody has a flash plugin enabled for all these flash video sites?

    example of another site that is crippled somewhat by lack of AJAX support: digg.com. you cant vote without it. i'd say thats pretty heavy
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuxidomasx View Post
    you cant please everybody.
    I don't think that should be an excuse for not even trying.

    Quote Originally Posted by tuxidomasx View Post
    if i wanted to make a site without assuming anything about the user or their system, i'd have an all-text site.
    That's making a huge assumption, showing a profound lack of understanding of the concept of web accessibility.

    Text-only is not accessible to all users. A fully accessible site provides more than one way to access the same content (text+images, audio/video+transcript, etc.).
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  24. #24
    SitePoint Enthusiast tuxidomasx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    I don't think that should be an excuse for not even trying.
    yea, and on an unlimited budget I'm sure many sites would love to accommodate every single possible client-end setup. But thats a very unrealistic goal for most sites. If pleasing everybody is gonna kill the budget or take extra time that cant be spared, then yes, knowing you cant always please everybody is a darn good excuse for not even trying.
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  25. #25
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tailslide's Avatar
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    I think it's a myth that accessibility is too difficult or time consuming for most sites. For the vast majority of websites it's just not that hard to make at least some adjustments to aid accessibility.

    You might be constrained by time or budget or client demands and feel that you can't do everything you might want to do ideally - but that's not the same thing at all.
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