pop art

C E Macfarlane c.e.macfarlane at macfh.co.uk
Wed Sep 2 09:12:58 PDT 2015

See below for further OT discussion, otherwise please ignore ...


>     -----Original Message-----
>     David Cantrell
>     They want to provide the
>     best service
>     they can to the vast majority of users, within the constraints imposed
>     by their budget and rights ownership etc. That means that they have to
>     make choices about which platforms get the most attention, which get
>     some attention, and so on. They might not phrase it like I did when
>     speaking to the public, but that *is* what they think.

That is looking through the wrong end of the telescope.  See below ...

>          However I
>     > don't know if the relevant people simply don't realise that
>     many may choose
>     > to disable JavaScript, etc, for various reasons.

Yes, for example, for security reasons, and a number of mobile browsers do
not support JavaScript:

>     They realise. They just don't think that that tiny handful of
>     people is
>     worth putting much effort into. There are no good reasons
>     these days to
>     turn Javascript off globally, as modern browsers allow you
>     to, eg, turn
>     it off by default but back on for trusted sites such as the BBC.

Relying on JS to perform such things as styling is absolutely the wrong way
to go about things.  See below ...

>     And if you have deliberately turned it off (either by configuration or
>     by using some hopelessly crippled browser that doesn't implement it),
>     then that's your choice.

As above, it may actually have been the platform manufacturer's choice.

>	The BBC can't take account of every possible
>     weird thing that users do.

They can very easily ensure that their content loads on as many different
devices as possible by ensuring that their content is as simple as possible.
That is:
	:-(	Do not use JS, PHP, etc to edit content according to the platform
making the request, rather keep the content simple enough to load properly
on any platform.
	:-(	Do not use JS, PHP, etc to lay out content according to the platform
making the request, rather keep the layout simple enough to display properly
on any platform.
	:-(	Do not use JS, PHP, etc to style content according to the platform
making the request, rather keep the style simple enough to display properly
on any platform.

>	You might as well complain that you can't
>     watch the TV because you chose to glue some socks to the screen.

It is not what the user may be doing wrong that is under discussion here,
but what the BBC is doing wrong.  See below ...

>     I presume you would agree that it is a Good Thing to try to send
>     appropriate stuff to the various different platforms?

NO!!!  NO!!!  NO!!!  That is the WHOLE POINT!!!  It's a BAD, BAD, BAD thing
to try to send appropriate content to different platforms!!!  That way lies
an insane and bloody mess and a site maintenance nightmare!!!

You need to read up about Object-Orientating-Programming (OOP) in general
and Model-View-Controller (MVC) in particular, both of which are key
concepts to good GUI design.  In HTML, the content is the 'model' and is the
only thing a web site truly controls, while the platform/device creates the
view and also is the controller, and is more or less completely under the
control of the platform manufacturer and user between them.  Hence there HAS
to be a division of responsibility  -  the site needs to think primarily in
terms of what content to serve, and the platform in terms of how best to
display to the user the content that the site sends.  Obviously, there is
some allowance for overlap, in that the site can and certainly will send
suggestions for styling, etc to the platform along with the content, but the
final responsibility for presenting the content to the user in an
accessible, usable, and (only lastly) hopefully pretty way ultimately rests
with the platform, because only it has a sufficiently intimate knowledge of
the intricacies of itself.  There are just too many different platforms out
there, let alone user settable options on any given one, for the site to try
and second guess what it should be sending in any given situation, or for
its creators to hope to test the results of doing so  -  it's not just
desktops (is it 4:3 or other aspect ratio, is the window maximised, does the
user have a white on black colour scheme, rather than the more normal black
on white, is JavaScript enabled), it's not just a matter of tablets and
smartphones (which orientation is the device in, is JavaScript enabled), but
it might actually be a screen reader or be sending output to a braille
device, etc.  All the site creators can and should hope to do is:
	:-)	Ensure that content sent is the minimum required to accomplish the
purpose in hand;
	:-)	Only use such things as JS and PHP where essential to accomplish the
purpose in hand;
	:-)	Ensure that styling is kept to the minimum needed for clarity of

>	Well, that means
>     that they have to somehow detect what your platform is. That
>     they get it
>     wrong for some really obscure platforms is to be expected.
>     The alternative would be to send absolutely everything for every
>     platform to all devices, and not care that some are bandwidth
>     constrained and others which have lots of users are severely
>     lacking in
>     CPU grunt or memory. That would, of course, mean that the
>     site would no
>     longer work on some fairly mainstream devices, all so that it
>     works for
>     you.

No, that is not the only alternative and is the exact opposite of actually
what needs to be done.  As described above, the site needs to send content
in a simple enough fashion to work on the simplest device, then it will work
on all the others without much, if any, further programming effort.

A cheap and cheerful measure of html coding simplicity is the ratio of
characters visible on the page as displayed to the number of characters in
the page source  -  the greater the resulting number, the more economical
and efficient the coding, and vice versa.  However, before giving some
results, I should point out a caveat, in that nearly all web pages load
coding from elsewhere, even if it's only a single stylesheet  -  my own
loads 11 such pieces of external code, the BBC page 13  -  but I did say
'cheep and cheerful'; I haven't got the time to add up all the different
components in the pages under comparison.


The BBC Programmes A-Z page previously linked comes out at 0.02, while the
most complicated page on my own site, which calculates from user input which
direction to point a TV aerial, and draws maps of and a vertical terrain
profile along the resulting signal path, comes out at 0.16.  This is a
massive difference, the more so when you consider that, unlike my own page
which works very hard for its living, the BBC page's content is essentially
static, it never needs to change!

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