Bookmark: "The Optional Chaining Operator, 'Modern' Browsers, and My Mom"

Sebastian Greger


These are the kind of stories that would deserve so much more space in education and practice of technologists:

The real-life impact of our technical decisions really hit home to me once again: my Mom had trouble volunteering and participating in her local community because somebody shipped the optional chaining operator in their production JavaScript.

Now, frankly the true issue is that Apple has locked down their OS so much that users cannot update to a newer browser engine (but are expected to, what, buy the new model?). But this is also a flaw in the website shipping JavaScript code where owning a slightly outdated device renders the entire service unusable.

This brings me back to this brilliant article from this summer:

For some reason, the myth that users without JavaScript don’t exist, refuses to die. So thank you to the author of this comprehensive collection of both statistics (1% of millions is still a lot of people!) and – more importantly – all the other reasons that may, even temporarily, turn web users into “users with no JavaScript”.

The story told by Jim Nielsen is a prime example of a “user who does not have JavaScript” (because of a technical issue with the JS code). Q.E.D.

It is fine to use whatever latest techniques there are, but websites are built for an extremely heterogeneous audience. Progressive enhancement solves any issues like this; but this needs to be in the DNA of everything we do.

I'm Sebastian, Sociologist and Interaction Designer. This journal is mostly about bringing toge­ther social science and design for inclusive, privacy-focused, and sustainable "human-first" digital strategies. I also tend to a "digital garden" with carefully curated resources.

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