The Firefox Reader View

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Firefox reader view

Less is more so it seems. Want to remove the clutter in a web page and just see the actual content?

By pressing a button or enabling an option in the browser you can eliminate ads, buttons, forms, everything except the main content is possible. Only one browser to date, Firefox, has implemented this feature. They call it the Reader View and has been available since version 38. I got around to using it today after firing up my Ubuntu desktop.

The Good.

My initial take is, it’s a wonderful feature. When you can bring up a web page in its purest form of just content, thats a beautiful thing. It takes away all the busyness and puts focus on what matters. On specialized readers with limited screen space, this comes in handy.

The Bad.

But there is something I’m not too fond of. That is, as a website owner, all the monetization efforts that I put in, goes away. Advertisement is the most important thing for a website owner. Without it, there is really no reason why anyone would blog, let alone run a website.

What Is It Doing?

I took some time to look into how Firefox shows only the main content for a web page. The bulk of the logic is in the Javascript source, Readability.js. What this code does is go through the paragraphs pulling out the inner text HTML. This seems to be error prone and subject to interpretation.

Isn’t there a better way? Look at abbreviated HTML 5 template below:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head><title>This is a HTML 5 web page</title></head>
<body>
  <div id="page">
    <header>Header logo here</header>
    <menu>
      <menuitem>Item 1</menuitem>
      <menuitem>Item 2</menuitem>
      <menuitem>Item 3</menuitem>
    </menu>
    <main>
      <article>
        <h2>The title of the article</h2>
        The contents of the article.
      </article>
    </main>
    <aside>
      <div id="ads">Ad</div>
      <div id="categories">Categories</div>
    </aside>
    <footer>Copyright &copy;Kobashi Computing. All rights reserved.</footer>
  </div>
</body>
</html>

The readability button should only come up in special circumstances. Why couldn’t that be when one is viewing a HTML 5 document and an article tag is the child of a main tag? Then, all one has to do is render whats inside the article tag.

Looking back while moving forward with web development technologies should be discouraged. Setting precedence on what was old to make new today, is wasted effort. We should strive to take what is new today and make better of it. Push forward, not backwards.

Of Interest