July 11, 2006

Wow, has it been 3 weeks already?

The latest release contains mostly user requested features and some other minor refinements.

One new “feature” is the ability to enable javascript/ActiveX for both preview creation and the minibrowser. More often, it seems, websites are resorting to javascript and/or ActiveX (usually flash) to present information. A notorious example is Yahoo News which displays with an ugly, vertically elongated heading when javascript is off.

This “feature” requires some registry hacking to turn on because javscript/ActiveX have many features concerning interactivity. When doing things like batch loading many pages at a time this interactivity is a problem; Random alerts can popup, windows can lose focus, etc. As a web programmer who has the Microsoft Script Debugger installed, things become even worse when scripts contain errors (There are MANY pages with errors on some big name sites). Regularly IE/Firefox silently ignores these errors, but with the Script Debugger installed, it always pops up causing an ungodly annoyance when doing bulk loading of pages.

One of the reasons to enable javascript/ActiveX was also to increase accessibility to video sites like YouTube. Unfortunately, these sites not only use javascript/ActiveX to compose a page, but also to auto-start their videos. So, while bulk loading, you start getting the beginning snippets of sound for EACH video page that is being rendered.

So on once hand, yes, some pages do render MUCH better with javascript/ActiveX running. But the cost might just be a bit too unbearable and thus, the options remain buried in the Registry where they’ll most likely stay for a long time.

(For Video sites that look fine without javascript/ActiveX, iFilm does a pretty good job. For news, both the BBC and NYT do a fine job….the usage of javascript/ActiveX to present information [as opposed to create interactivity] is really bad design in my book).