Why You Should Turn off JavaScript for Gmail

If there is one thing that Google staff are atrocious at doing it is writing decent JavaScript. For some ridiculous reason Google don't employ anyone who knows how to write JavaScript properly and so all of their code is prehistoric. Well they do seem to have improved their adSense code in recent years but much of the rest is still using code constructs that were not recommended even when Netscape 2 was the browser of choice.

One example of this with the scripts used for the Gmail service is that the code includes browser sensing (obsolete since before the first dinosaur was born) instead of using proper feature sensing. This means that the JavaScript only works with a small fraction of the browsers that it could work with, it relies on someone updating the script when new browsers are introduced, and it relies on everyone using browsers that the script would support if it were written properly overriding how their browser identifies itself to satisfy Google's antiquated code instead of just working.

Fortunately, it is relatively simple to open your browser settings and add mail.google.com to the exception list of web sites that you don't want to run JavaScript. After doing this you can refresh the page and Gmail will advise you that JavaScript is turned off. You can then simply click a link to use the version of Gmail without JavaScript (in what is known as basic HTML view). Three more click will set that view as the default *Google really want you to run their garbage script so they don't make it easy to bypass it).

This in itself is yet another example of the poor quality of this script as if the script were written properly then the page would automatically use whatever sections of the script the browser supports and default automatically back to the HTML only version for anything the browser doesn't support. Of course to do that would require that they replace their current mess with properly written 20th Century JavaScript (21st Century JavaScript would be even better but a 20th Century script would be sufficient to achieve this).

At least Gmail provide an HTML version so that you can turn off their garbage pretending to be JavaScript and still make use of their service. There are many other sites where turning off the garbage masquerading as JavaScript leaves you with a blank page. In those cases you have no choice but to search for an alternative site that works properly.

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