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.

@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.

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.

@freakazoid @ajroach42 @enkiv2 I mean, at the same time, it lets me have a hundred tabs saved that I don't have cluttering up my desktop. Basically lets me put all my windows into a browser box rather then trying to deal with them each one by one.

@Canageek @enkiv2 @ajroach42 Like I said, window management is a disaster. There are a bunch of Linux window managers that let you stack windows into a single tabbed box.

@freakazoid @ajroach42 @enkiv2 Which ones would you recommend? I've only got experience with Gnome and XFCE. I liked KDE3.X when I used it, but it wouldn't run on the linux machine I had back when I was using it daily.

@Canageek @enkiv2 @ajroach42 I have tried dozens of window managers, including many few here will have ever heard of (GWM, for example), and I think i3 is the best one hands down. I tried Awesome and Ratpoison when I was looking for a tiling window manager, and I found Awesome to be too inflexible and Ratpoison to be too minimalist. I3 is fully controllable via CLI (dbus, actually), and its configuration language is powerful without being overly complex.

@freakazoid @ajroach42 @enkiv2 Is that a weird one, or kind of similar to Windows/KDE in how you interact with it?

@Canageek @enkiv2 @ajroach42 It's a tiling window manager. You mostly interact with it via keyboard shortcuts, though I guess theoretically you could bind most actions to mouse events.

@freakazoid @ajroach42 @enkiv2 Yeah, no. I'm not moving my hands back and forth between keyboard and mouse every time I want to resize a window.

@Canageek @enkiv2 @ajroach42 Oh, resizing can be done with the mouse; just drag the borders around. There are keyboard shortcuts to do it, but you don't need them.

@ajroach42 @enkiv2 @Canageek Fluxbox and Pekwm also support tabbed/grouped windows, but otherwise they're more traditional stacking window managers, which might be closer to what you are looking for.

@freakazoid @enkiv2 @ajroach42 I've used Fluxbox with Knoppix, good for loading off a CD quickly, but way more lightweight then what I want.

I liked how KDE2 was like, if Windows just threw in every linux feature they could think of, without breaking the basic design. Window bar at the bottom, start menu, but also able to pin windows to the top, snap them to eachother and so on.

@freakazoid @enkiv2 @ajroach42 When using gnome I discovered focus follows mouse, and was VERY happy (Make the figure I'm looking at nearly full screen and still type into the window under it!)

@Canageek @ajroach42 @enkiv2 I seem to recall GNOME going back and forth on focus-follows-mouse. I've been using X11 since 1995, with my first window manager being TVTWM. I used that one for a long time before switching to FVWM, which I probably used longer than I've used any other manager. i3 will probably surpass it soon in terms of longevity.


@freakazoid @enkiv2 @ajroach42 It wasn't on by default, but it was available. This was before Gnome went crazy, back when it was trying to be Mac OS Classic with more bells and whistles.

A bit after KDE went WIDGETS, WIDGETS EVERYWHERE and then was too slow to run on the Pentium 4 I was using at work.

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