Federated Republic of Sean is a user on retro.social. You can follow them or interact with them if you have an account anywhere in the fediverse.

So web browsers are bad, right?

And web browsers being bad is making the internet bad, right?

Or maybe the internet being bad is making web browser bad.

Doesn't matter.

The upshot is that we should stop using bad web browsers recreationally, and stop using services that can only be accessed from bad web browsers.

And when that isn't possible, build alternatives that work from not bad browsers.

That's why I'm so happy that Brutaldon exists.

So, what are the core features a good web browser should have?

What shouldn't it have?

If you were redesigning the web, today, knowing what you know about popups, cookies, malicious javascript, etc. What would you design?

@ajroach42 I guess the question is, how would you *split up* the web, so that applications that really do need the abused functionality went off into their own space (perhaps with its own protocol), while the pieces we like would stay in their own space in which annoyances are relatively difficult to implement.

@freakazoid Right. I'm not suggesting that we try to replace the web entirely. It is very useful, as much as it is a giant problem.

I'm wondering aloud what the core functionality of a modern document delivery platform should look like.

A thing that does what the web was supposed to do, rather than what the web does.

@ajroach42 @freakazoid
I've made the argument before that what HTTP does well gopher does better. For delivery, I'd probably opt for gopher.

With regard to formatting -- well, a subset of html might do, but maybe markdown would be better. Give the user complete control over fonts, sizes, and colors. Eliminate scripting entirely.

@enkiv2 @ajroach42 @freakazoid I mean, I'd rather something more LaTeX like then markdown like. The problem with that of course being LaTeX is Turing-complete so you'd want a subset of it, rather then just moving from Javascript to TeX as your programming language.

But LaTeX is focused around good text layout by default, and has every tool you'll need for that without style sheets or other garbage.

@Canageek @freakazoid @enkiv2 I don't want anything other than very basic layout to be pre-defined.

The author of a document won't know the configuration of my screen. Plaintext reflows very well.

Give me some very basic rich text. I don't need anything more than that.

@ajroach42 @enkiv2 @freakazoid

I should be able to write stuff like this on the web without trying.

@Canageek @enkiv2 @ajroach42 At the other end, there's the criticism (from Alan Kay?) of the fact that we've essentially replicated paper books on computers. So maybe we're taking too narrow of a view and over-simplifying. Perhaps we're limiting ourselves too much by trying to make annoyances impossible; maybe that's a problem to be solved socially instead of technologically, except perhaps for the elimination of 3rd party content (or at least cookies).

@ajroach42 @enkiv2 @Canageek What we've described so far couldn't even express a typical PLATO lesson.

@ajroach42 @enkiv2 @freakazoid I just thought of something: Browsers are going to have to help control text width if it isn't specified in the document. Ever tried to read a raw text file on a wide monitor? Once you are over a few inches across its just unworkable.

But I don't want to have to resize my browser constantly.

On the other hand, if there are apps and everything uses the same formatting then one window size would be fine? But if I hit maximize getting it back might be a pain.

@Canageek
Wrap is a solved problem for plaintext. Even word wrap: backtrack to word boundaries unless the token is longer than the line, in which case switch to character wrap.

This mechanism works so long as you don't switch text directions in the middle of a line & don't try to apply restrictions like non-breaking spaces to character wrap.

@ajroach42 @freakazoid

@enkiv2 @ajroach42 @freakazoid 1) I mean, how do you pick how wide a column to show? In HTML either it is as wide as the window (Fine when we used 800x600 monitors, not fine at 1920x1280!) or the document specifies a width.

If the document doesn't specify a width, and we don't want it full window width wide, browsers are going to have to handle that.

@Canageek @freakazoid @enkiv2 right. Hence user styles.

Have a clearly defined, sane max-width default, and make it user overridable.

Just like we do now, but in the control of the user, not the publisher.

@ajroach42 @enkiv2 @freakazoid I was thinking of the actual layout within the window.

Would tabs still be the best approach if you aren't going to be using all the space at the sides? I've thought they should move UI elements to the left and right sides of the screen for a while.

Or would it be better to go back to a multiwindow model so the OS can do nice layout things?

Would it be better to have split windows inside the browser, or open two browser windows, etc?

@Canageek @freakazoid @enkiv2 ah. A valid discussion. Ultimately, IMO, that should beg left in the hands of the user. Set some sane defaults, allow for simple customization.

I like the idea of pulling in content from multiple sources in to multiple columns on one screen, personally. But I suspect there is no “right answer” here.

@ajroach42 @enkiv2 @freakazoid Right, but feature support has to be there. I think Vivaldi is experimenting with some of these features actually.

@Canageek @freakazoid @enkiv2 sure. If someone implements a windowing system that can handle these things, I don’t see a reason not to support them.

But most of that should be handled by the windowing system, I think?

GUI design is not my area of expertise.

@ajroach42 @enkiv2 @freakazoid The issue is due to tabs, browsers are basically window managers now.

@Canageek @enkiv2 @ajroach42 Tabs are a hack around the fact that the window management available to most users is an utter disaster.

Which brings up an interesting point: applications are hobbling themseves by being crossplatform. They're stuck either not integrating in any interesting way or doing their own bespoke internal integrations that don't match anything else on the platform.

Federated Republic of Sean @freakazoid

@ajroach42 @enkiv2 @Canageek What I'm thinking of is the way ACME works with Plan 9.

· Web · 0 · 1

@freakazoid
If acme did hypertext -- well, we wouldn't have a browser exactly, but we'd have something that does better on all the things that we're looking to keep browsers doing.

@Canageek @ajroach42

@freakazoid
I was working on a lightweight hypertext thing with parallel windows (not transpointing but spans are color-coded and aligned) & acme would probably be a substantially better model than the UI I currently have for it.
@Canageek @ajroach42

@enkiv2 @ajroach42 @Canageek Even X11 apps used to use multiple windows quite extensively. Not sure what led to the switch. We're not quite back to MDI, but the main difference between the current approach and MDI is that we have little to no control of the layout of subwindows within the main window.