Last night, I decided to not-so-carefully run a couple of Web 2.0 apps through the old-school Web 0.1 Lynx browser to see which would work best, or work at all. It occurred to me that in the Web 2.0 world, Lynx might be thrown onto the trash heap of history, made useless by whiz-bang AJAX development. That would be a shame (though the life of Lynx could very well be extended by folks using the
lynx -source [URL] command to dump the source from cool AJAX apps)
All this aside, I really just wanted to see what would happen when a Web 2.0 AJAX app got run through the Lynx HTML meat grinder — kind of the same impulse that led me to put various things in the microwave in my youth. For this test, I chose Gmail and 37Signals’ Backpackit.
For these tests, I used this version of Lynx:
Lynx Version 2.8.5rel.1 (04 Feb 2004)
libwww-FM 2.14, SSL-MM 1.4.1, GNUTLS 1.0.16
Let the games begin! First, the Gmail login screen was a bit of a mess under Lynx (username label off to the right, login on the second screen), but ultimately useable.
After login, I jumped through a series of redirects before ending up on this page:
And the experience ended there — no more redirects, just that raw screen. Game over, Google. Yes, I could cut and paste the long URL from the screen into a browser, but then I wouldn’t be testing Lynx any more, would I? Gmail is definitely NOT Lynx-certified. Stay away, Lynx fans.
Next, 37Signals’ Backpackit. The login screen in Lynx is very nice and simple with elegant alignment, all on one page so I didn’t have to resort to the dreaded space bar to advance to the next page:
I navigated a bit and decided to add a note using Lynx.
It worked, as you can see when I checked in Firefox:
Update: In my cheekiness about Lynx, I didn’t think about one aspect that Eugene Chan has pointed out in the comments: “As Lynx goes so does screenreaders for the blind. So it does mean that web designers who are not thinking about web 0.1 may leave an important segment of users behind.” Very good point.