Removal of "Enable JavaScript" and "Load images automatically" in Firefox 23

klasse at klasse at
Fri Aug 9 06:29:29 UTC 2013

Hi Gavin,

Actually, my arguments rest on the premise that the entire preference 
pane is not relevant to the vast majority of your users. But I don't 
want to give you any ideas here - please don't remove it. :)

Anyway, thank you very much for your professional response to my 
grumbling. I appreciate it.

Am 08.08.2013 22:46, schrieb Gavin Sharp:
> Hi klasse,
> Thanks for the feedback. I think most of your arguments rest on a
> false premise: that the motivation behind this change was to
> accommodate lazy or malicious web developers. As I mentioned in the
> bug, the primary motivation was to simplify our preference pane to
> remove options that are not relevant to the vast majority of our
> users, and that produce a negative experience for the vast majority of
> Web use cases.
> It's great that you've been able to make use of NoScript and live
> without JavaScript on the web, but I don't think your experience is
> reflective of our user base in general.
> Thankfully, given Firefox's strong add-on ecosystem and built-in
> configurability (including about:config), the small set of users who
> need to address these use cases can continue to do so.
> Gavin
> On Thu, Aug 8, 2013 at 1:19 PM,  <klasse at> wrote:
>> Folks, I have to express my strong objection to the removal of the "Enable
>> JavaScript" and also the "Load images automatically" settings from the
>> easily accessible "Configuration" dialog in Firefox 23. (And yes, I do know
>> that they are still present in "about:config".)
>> Reasons:
>> 1) "Enable JavaScript": The much-quoted ( see e.g.
>> ) point of view at
>> is a point of view of a web developer,
>> not a consumer. And not a very good web developer either - the good ones
>> will place a warning inside tag <noscript>, letting the visitor know they
>> need to enable JS for the site to work properly, instead of letting their
>> website fail silently/disgracefully.
>> The given reason to remove that setting has been to not let "nontechnical"
>> users disable JS based on an uninformed decision. In my experience, though,
>> the "nontechnical" users don't ever open the "Configuration" dialog, let
>> alone change anything there - they are rightfully afraid of changes breaking
>> their browsing experience. So, the "Enable JavaScript" option was actually
>> something for the "techie" users using a quick way to disable JS, without
>> the need to go to about:config and having to remember the name of the
>> affected parameter. (And possibly having to search the web to make sure that
>> "javascript.enabled" is actually the one needed, or how about, e.g.,
>> "pref.advanced.javascript.disable_button.advanced" and friends? And which
>> one is it in the current version of Firefox, or the version I'm currently
>> using at a PC which is not mine?)
>> I do agree that the NoScript add-on is a better way for disabling JS, and I
>> am, in fact, its long-term happy user. (Including forcing HTTPS for certain
>> sites, its "Application Boundary Enforcer", etc.) But I only use NoScript on
>> my main Firefox profile, on my main non-administrator Windows account. On
>> the other hand, I keep the number of installed Firefox add-ons on my Windows
>> administrator account at zero, for security reasons. And, for the same
>> reasons, I also have JS disabled on it most of the time, using the Firefox
>> "Configuration" window.
>> Also, I sometimes use a Linux LiveCD which does not have the NoScript add-on
>> installed. And the Firefox "Configuration" window offers a quick way to
>> disable JS there, for security and privacy reasons. Instead of having to
>> waste time and RAM (that's where a LiveCD runs) for NoScript.
>> Unlike what some web developers claim, JavaScript is not needed for most of
>> the sites I visit. I don't need it for most of my web activities, such as
>> reading news and forums, looking up words in online dictionaries (their
>> forms work without JS), etc. And I don't even need JS for my banking website
>> ( ) - only their auto-log-out
>> countdown won't show - that's what I call "good" developers. And if ever,
>> very rarely, I come across a web site failing entirely without JS, it
>> usually warns me about it using the <noscript> tag. (And they sometimes show
>> the warning while still working good enough for just reading them.) And a
>> growing number of sites use HTML5 and CSS animation for many things anyway.
>> I understand website owners being upset about disabled JavaScript, as it
>> limits their ability to track and advertise, but I am the browser user, not
>> them. And forcing their point of view down "technical" users' throats is not
>> the way to go - it will just annoy them. And there are quite a few of those
>> with Firefox. While the "non-technical" ones are not affected - they don't
>> know what JS is or how it can be disabled in the FF "Configuration" window
>> in the first place.
>> 2) "Load images automatically": There are remarkably few voices against
>> removing of this one from the "Configuration" window. I found its easy
>> disabling an advantage, too. I travel a lot, to different countries. And
>> don't always have WiFi nearby and then use the GSM tethering instead, which
>> often has speeds comparable to the good old modem dial-up. Having been able
>> to quickly disable image loading when on such connections (sometimes along
>> with JS), and then re-enable it again when on WiFi, has been a great
>> advantage. (Even my mobile browser offers that, also great when on GSM.) It
>> greatly limits load times and money spent on data download. While, again, I
>> don't need images to browse news, forums, dictionaries, etc. They are "nice
>> to have", but one can easily do without for a while. (Although advertisers
>> would disagree, I am sure.)
>> That, again, is a setting a "technical" user would use, while others don't
>> know it exists.
>> Now, with the setting only present in "about:config", I face the same issues
>> as with "javascript.enabled": which parameter is it (in the FF version I
>> use)? Do I have to remember that? For all browsers I use?
>> Oh wait, I just accidentally changed another "about:config" parameter, which
>> sounded similar, and forgot to re-set it back - so why does my browser
>> behave differently now while "syncing"? Is it a Firefox bug? I think I need
>> to report it in Bugzilla. (Just an example.)
>> -> There is a reason for that big fat warning when opening "about:config" -
>> it is not meant to be changed frequently. No matter how "technical" one is.
>> So, please, bring both those settings back to the "Configuration" UI. Their
>> easy and safe access has been one of the advantages of Firefox.
>> Code/UI clean-ups are a generally a good thing, but this one went too far.
>> Configurability is a big advantage of Firefox. Also, it's a bit
>> hypocritical: the "technical" users are advised to use the "NoScript" add-on
>> (again, others don't know it exists), but each new version brings additional
>> "Developer Tools" (I'm not complaining, I like it, actually), despite the
>> also existing "Firebug" add-on.
>> And to close with an anecdote, referring to the "Google broken with disabled
>> images" argument in
>> My completely "non-technical" sister asked me recently why I had configured
>> Google search as her home page, shown on browser start-up. Her argument to
>> change it (to her mail/news provider's page) was: "Why do I need that Google
>> search page - isn't that what that search bar in the top right corner is
>> for?"
>> So much to the "we just broke the internet" claim. And Firefox better be
>> fixed if disabled images prevent displaying of forms on it. Unless it's
>> Googles intention, as advertiser. (Unfortunately, I can't test that claim
>> now with FF 23, as don't know which "about:config" parameter disables images
>> loading :), but on Opera Mobile 12 the Google search field is present with
>> images disabled. And no need to go to "opera:config" to do it there, by the
>> way.)
>> Thank you!
>> P.S.: I sincerely hope that the other "killing" configurations mentioned in
>> (concerning SSL/TLS, etc.) won't be
>> removed in future Firefox versions, or it would, indeed, have "disastrous
>> effects" on its users.
>> If someone is looking for meaningful improvements affecting all users: How
>> about the long overdue implementation TLS 1.1 and 1.2 (hopefully
>> configurable as now with TLS 1.0), and also "certificate pinning" as done by
>> the "Certificate Patrol" extension (
>> )? (Or
>> "key pinning" as Chrome does it?) The latter would require some UI design
>> too, but would be a major improvement. As "techie", I like the
>> configurability of "Certificate Patrol" in its UI, not "about:config". It
>> can easily be made as unobtrusive or "panicy" as one likes, even if it's
>> just a once-and-for-ever configuration step.
>> For "non-techies", it seems that the Firefox "reset to default" button is
>> all they'll ever need. Maybe it should be moved out of its current hiding
>> somewhere easier findable by them, e.g. an own menu item under "Help" (with
>> an appropriate big fat warning)? (I personally have never used it so far,
>> but I might need to in future, if I manage to mess up "about:config"
>> parameters, deejaying the JS and image settings above in future. So far, I
>> have used "about:config" for some "once-and-for-ever" configuration only,
>> e.g. some security and privacy related hardening.)
>> Please don't take this as critic of any future UI changes. Normally, I
>> consider Firefox changes to be improvements - e.g. the new "selected search
>> engine applies to the whole browser" (i.e. also the address bar), new
>> development tools, etc. Neither will I complain about the missing
>> "blinking". (It's not in specs, with FF the only one having supported it,
>> and there are other specified ways to make things blink. But UI is not
>> covered by specs.) This is the first time I consider the change a change for
>> the worse. So much as to send my first e-mail to "firefox-dev".
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