The Web Without JavaScript

Back in the day I used an extension in Firefox called NoScript. It is still around. NoScript blocked all JavaScript on a website. You could approve individual sites if scripts really were required to make the site work properly.

I stopped using it because I stopped using Firefox. I have jumped around different browsers a lot but currently for my personal use I am running Vivaldi. Being a Chromium based browser I installed my trusty uBlock Origin as a content blocker. This is for my own security as malicious advertisements have become an epidemic.

It turns out uBlock Origin can also block scripts. I turned that on expecting the worst. And some sites did break. But you know what, not as many as I expected.

To be honest, for casual browsing having scripts disabled has been so much better. Annoying videos that follow you up and down the page? Gone. Pop up elements pleading with you to sign up for a mailing list? Nope. Pop up elements that block the pop up elements asking for you to sign up for a mailing list that beg you not to leave the page as you move your cursor? Also missing in action.

In short the web becomes cleaner, less cluttered, smaller (by download size), and most importantly safer. So many cases of JavaScript loading remotely being compromised and leading to malware on trusted websites. Most of the time when I land on a random site I just want to read the text anyway. That still works fine with scripts turned off.

Of course there are sites that break, and break badly. For that I whitelist. uBlock Origin can sync these whitelists via the standard browser sync, including Vivaldi’s sync. Only downside is that it isn’t automatic. For that I added a web panel for the uBlock Origin configuration page. Just open the uBlock Origin settings and click the add button in the left column. This gives me one click access to the settings. When I make a change I can simply open this panel to upload the change. Then download it on my browser on another computer. I always use the download and merge option so I never have to worry about wiping out any settings I may have forgotten to sync.

Lastly I do keep a browser, Safari in this case, with minimal customizations for when I don’t want to risk a site breaking. If I am buying difficult to get tickets for a show, let’s say. There I would use my clean browser. Otherwise I run the risk of being kicked out of line when I hit a resource I didn’t think to whitelist.

Beyond that though, this has been a far more pleasant experience than I expected.