Is a javascript-based software forum really that bad?


(Giuseppe Barbieri) #1


I am trying to push the jogl community to switch their software forum (current Nabble) to something better, more modern, usable and useful.

I love Discourse and I proposed it, but javascript seems to be the biggest problem in order to be adopted

In your opinion, is it really so? Which are the benefits of using it instead php?

Is there a way in which we could use Discourse without Javascript? Or find somehow a compromise?

(Erick Guan) #2

I have to be careful to not to start a language war…

Features matter

Discourse is a JavaScript program, that’s right. Specifically, Discourse is an Ember.js app, which is a framework in your browser. After the first load, Discourse talks to the server via JSON instead of HTML page. It’s the differences from the typical php site.(Facebook won’t work) With heavy use of JavaScript, Discourse can offer the real time experience. You don’t need to open a series of tabs to read several topics and reply back. It’s much like a desktop application.

Modern web sites require JavaScript

Twitter, Gmail and Facebook won’t work if you disable JavaScript. Google search will lose lots of features if you disable JavaScript either.

I’d say these web sites are the people use on a daily basis.

Discourse power user

Software developer are picky.

Discourse can work like a mailing list.
If someone like, he can create a command line interface based on API which is used by our Ember program.

However, if you want to migrate to Discourse, you will still have to take migration cost into consideration. You may want to convince the community why Discourse features are good for them.

BTW, as a open source program, all assets can be served from your host.

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #3

With all due respect to Sven Gothel - he’s a brilliant guy doing important work for the Java community, but when it comes to web practices we diverge completely - when people abstain from JavaScript on “philosophical grounds”, you stand very little chance of convincing them.

It isn’t really a question of using it “instead of PHP” (or Ruby, or Python, or Go etc.), since it’s frequently used in combination with such a back-end language, with the exception being Node.js applications.

Not really. Discourse can do all of the handy things it does exactly because of how far JavaScript has come. Trying to dumb it down to please NoScript proponents is completely counterintuitive.

(Robin Ward) #4

We chose Javascript because it lets us do things that would otherwise be impossible. For example, live previews of formatting, endless scrolling, widgets that expand and contract in place, searching while you type, etc. Actually it seems pointless to list them all, because using Javascript heavily is in our blood, every feature we add leverages it in some way.

Javascript is not bad. It’s the most universal computing platform that’s ever existed. It runs everywhere.

^ I read that on your discussion page. That person is not wrong; to give up on Javascript is to give up on the web itself. Discourse is primarily a web application. If you don’t like the web itself, Discourse is not for you.

Also, what kind of person puts “the web” in quotes?

(Jens Maier) #5

People who want to talk about…


God, I played the crap out of that game as a kid…

(Jeff Atwood) #6

I don’t think they are talking about JavaScript, but the other design features of Discourse that make it work for mobile, tablet, and newer browsers.

I suspect they are preferring the old “classic” phpBB that runs entirely server side and uses almost no new web features, of which JavaScript (well, functioning, stable, reliable cross browser JS and DOM, which dates to about 2007) is one.

(Giuseppe Barbieri) #7

I kind of get it, web today is a very generic word, so he may have his reasons…

Anyway, with my thread I wanted to see if I could find some common ground and constructive partecipation, so I would beg you guys to avoid any polemic, since this is not my goal and I guess nobody will benefit from it.

I truly believe instead the adoption of the Discourse platform for the Jogl community can brings advantages to both the parties, to the community for having a better media to communicate and to Discorse, for having the jogl in the reference list and spreading its software.

(Robin Ward) #8

I appreciate this angle very much and apologize for my heated response. Perhaps a more temperate answer:

No, Javascript forum software is not bad. It has many advantages and allows us to do things that would otherwise not be possible on other platforms.

However if your users are adamant about not using Javascript, Discourse is not going to be a good fit. They would be better served by older forum software that does everything server side.

(Jens Maier) #9

I think one point that should be stressed is that Discourse’s JavaScripts only drive the frontend.

The backend, the portion of Discourse that’s running on the webserver, is written in Ruby, is based on the Ruby on Rails framework, and stores its data in a PostgreSQL database. It is isolated from other services and version dependencies, runs as an unprivileged user, and easily supports horizontal scaling over dozens of nodes.

(The only exception is the markdown to HTML converter which is executed on the server in an embedded JS engine when new posts are created or old ones need to be rebaked.)

(Sam Saffron) #10

An additional, very important point that is worth considering.

We have seen time and time again that some users have the attitude that “I am fine to use this new software as long as it acts 100% like the old software I was using before”. They are in for a surprise and you are bound to always lose a handful of die hard “my cheese may never move” users.

We try hard to accommodate for a large amount of use cases and users, but if you have philosophical objections to the existence of our product and desire a product that works exactly like your old produce there is no appeasing you.

(James D) #11

It’s possibly worth noting that the EmberJS folks are working on a feature called FastBoot.

FastBoot will allow you to deliver the HTML and CSS for a page in
your Ember app right away, then allow the JavaScript to take over once
it has finished loading. Your Ember app will behave no differently than
server-rendered apps when it comes to search engines, mobile users,
cURL, or users with JavaScript disabled.

For everyone else, you’ll still have the responsiveness and interactivity users have come to expect from Ember apps.

(emphasis mine)

I dunno how easy that would be to enable for an Ember app served by Rails, but getting the ability to fall back on server-side rendering for free (maybe?) seems pretty neat.

(Lowell Heddings) #12

It always cracks me up when people don’t like JavaScript, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s like a modern hipster version of the Luddite. Anything that’s popular is bad. Or they are just old.

There are always reasons to hate on every programming language and every platform and every application. I remember when lots of people were hating on Java as a ridiculous fad and everybody should use straight C because it’s so much faster and doesn’t waste operations.

At the end of the day, none of that stuff matters. The only thing that does matter is whether the solution works for what people need it for.

Once Discourse becomes mainstream they will come around.

On a side note, about 99% of the time somebody asks me for help because some website isn’t working it’s because they were running NoScript. They should rename it “Break the Web”.


Hi, I’m going to crack you up @geek I usually browse without Javascript, don’t have a Facebook account (and never will) so I might qualify as a luddite in your agenda. I came to this thread because I’ve had reports of people’s browser freezing when using Discourse, and others complaining that they can’t use their chosen font and see the icons. You might think they’re luddites as well, but in both cases there are compelling reasons for this use-case.

For example, my visually-impaired friend actually wants to override any site’s fonts in order to well, read them. I’ve personally given up on using Mozilla Firefox because javascript-powered websites tend to make it RAM hungry, and that’s bad. When my computer slows down to a halt because of a javascript program running in a web browser sandbox, I’m wondering about the sanity of the whole stack. Such bubbling up should not happen, ever.

That said, I recommended Discourse anyway and usually find it to my taste. I hope the email participation feature can solve most of the issues for web-2.0-allergic people, although it challenges the meaning of “private” conversation once it transits through the NSA^W Internet tubes.

(Dev Jyothichand) #14

To be honest, I gave up using Mozilla Firefox as well because it just seemed to be a performance hog in general, and felt a bit too bulky for its intended uses. Can you tell why you don’t browse with Javascript on though?

(TechnoBear) #15

I use Firefox, and will stick with it because it allows me to zoom text only, which is an important accessibility feature for me. I don’t have any problems with it, except on Discourse sites which tend to load slowly at times - especially if I have my daily backup running. (But then, Chromium freezes altogether, so FF is actually the better option.)

Like @hellekin, I also have no social media accounts, and keep JS disabled as a matter of course. (If you want to know why, I’ve explained elsewhere.)


Firefox has unfortunately been getting increasingly bloated. However IMO it’s still better than the alternatives. (Which isn’t saying much. :sob:)

I’m currently using FF 36.0 and it’s better than whatever version I was using before, which I think was 24. (I don’t upgrade to every new version.)


I have several reasons. First of all, most of my web browsing is about seeking information and reading text: I barely need javascript for that. Most of the time I proxy my Web requests, and I don’t like third parties (either at the proxy, or at the web site) to inject code I didn’t ask for (e.g., tracking software). I barely use the Web for my social interaction online. Instead I use other protocols such as IRC, PSYC, XMPP, SMTP, Tox, Pond, etc.

When I hit a URL that I cannot use without Javascript (or Flash for that matter), unless I have a compelling reason to do so (e.g., mandatory administrative idiocy), I simply don’t use it. My trust is the Web browser is very limited: they’re too big, too greedy, too bloated, and most of the code passing through them via Javascript come from prying third parties with questionable objectives (and non-free).

Add to that mix bad code leaking memory or calling 20 third parties (wtf?), and browsing the Web becomes a very annoying experience. So, I prefer spending my time otherwise. The Web 2.0 is such a tiny part of the Internet :smile:.

(Kane York) #18

Okay, but… there’s nothing preventing you from reading a Discourse forum without JS.

You just can’t post, and it’s not outside the realm of possibility for someone to create a thick client to sign in and post.

A JS browser will still probably be required to complete signup, however.

(mountain) #19

I was agreeing with you up to the part about Facebook and Twitter. Since this is a discussion about a programming language I don’t think lumping social media platforms into this to support your position in this topic is sound. I’ve made it clear elsewhere that I’m not fond of social media, but only because I am a private person by nature and it doesn’t support healthy discussion, which is what I use the internet for. That’s nothing to do about Javascript.

Agreed 100% on that. Which is why I like Javascript.

Because Javascript may be used for nefarious reasons as much as good. While NoScript is used by those who abhor Javascript because The Man told them to, it also has a purpose for avoiding nasty tidbits of malware crap if temporarily surfing in dangerous spots, like image boards. However, that solely depends on a single user’s browsing habits, like if they enjoy the anime porn and need to get their fix on some #chan or -booru. I’m not advocating that specific usage scenario but I’ve seen it used that way.

That they also use it on your website is the actual concern.

Abhor the abusers, not the tools.

(Lowell Heddings) #20

Just gonna leave this here…