Fix or kill automatically installed JavaScript?

This article was first published by Julie Marchant under the license CC BY-SA 4.0.

In Richard Stallman's essay, "The JavaScript Trap", it is pointed out that people run proprietary software which is silently, automatically installed into their browsers every day. In fact, he very much downplayed the problem; not only are most users running proprietary programs every day merely by browsing the Web, they are running dozens or even hundreds of such programs each day. The JavaScript Trap is very real and prolific; the Web is said to be so broken without these non-standard, usually proprietary extensions to HTML that Web browsers have moved toward not even offering an obvious option to disable JavaScript; disabling JavaScript, it is argued, will only cause confusion.

It's obvious that we need to solve this problem. However, in focusing on whether or not scripts are "trivial" or libre, Mr. Stallman misses a crucial point: this behavior of automatic, silent software installation is, itself, the main problem. That most of the software in question is proprietary is merely a side-effect.

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Disable JavaScript easily in Firefox and derivatives

Given the "trap" that supposes the presense of JavaScript on the web, we could be executing proprietary software without realising. This software can compromise our privacy or do tasks that we don't want. Maybe we don't want to run JavaScript because we're testing how a page functions without JavaScript during the creation of a website.

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Bootstrap navigation bar without JavaScript

Bootstrap is distributed with a JavaScript file called bootstrap.js which requires jQuery. This file allows, among other things, making the navigation bar work when there are dropdown menus, and toggle the navigation links, which are hidden in low-resolution screens.

The problem is that Bootstrap doesn't offer the same basic functionality without JavaScript. Namely, if you don't have JavaScript enabled, you cannot access the dropdown menu nor toggle the navigation menu in mobile or low-resolution devices. However, it's possible to offer this features without JavaScritp. In this article I show you how to do it.

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