Chrome & Noscript - It's finally here

Updated: May 29, 2019

For many years, Firefox had a distinct advantage over other browsers - a superb array of add-ons that could do pretty much anything and everything. Come the era of WebExtensions, this advantage has largely been erased. But one rather important tool (extension) that remained the sole domain of Firefox was the clever and totally awesome security suite called Noscript - the ability to control Javascript on each and every site.

Well, now, there's a fresh version of this add-on also available for Chrome users. Giorgio Maone has decided to try his luck with Chrome, too, and has offered his tool to, well, given the current browser landscape, pretty much everyone. This is an interesting development. Because I'm thinking - will this work on Android? Aha. Anyway, test we must, so test we shall. Let's see.

Teaser

Short and sweet

I don't have too much to share here. I installed the extension from the official Chrome store, and I had the familiar no-parking icon pop up next to the address bar. The look & feel as well as the functionality are identical to Firefox. You can perma-allow or temporarily allow script, you can whitelist domains, and you have the option to configure default permissions for different zones (trusted, untrusted, default). I've got two guides on this topic, so you might want to consult them - Noscript guide numero uno and numero zwei. Indeed.

Test

Settings

Chrome, Noscript default whitelist

Default whitelist - all of it goes away.

But Chrome is teh securest!

This is a good point - and not the point. I've written about this too, a long time ago. For me, the primary purpose of Noscript isn't security. It's the peace and quiet. Instead of waiting seconds for bloated sites to load, you get instantaneous text-and-images stuff, no frill. And sometimes sites don't load at all, in which case you shouldn't bother reading anything that needs Javascript to display text.

You get no popups, the social media isn't profiling your kitten-and-gym habits, you don't even need an ad blocker until you enable a domain and let its scripts load. Very handy, and makes the Internet behave the way it should be 99% of the time: simple content. Sometimes, yes, you need to interact with websites, but then, you can temporarily turn the scripts on.

If you're using Chrome, Noscript gives you that ability to enjoy the quiet. It also puts Firefox in a difficult spot with the techies, for whom this extension was the one straw keeping them Mozilla-bound - this plus the upcoming changes in the adblocking scene. Now, if you ask me, I still think Firefox is the least annoying browser of all (currently, all of them are annoying), so this does not change the situation, plus you should favor the underdog because monopoly ain't good for you - unless it's the game, which is a great way of alienating family members.

Conclusion

I both like and dislike this development. Being part of an exclusive club felt ... well, exclusive. Now that Chrome users also get Noscript, I fear Firefox could become even less relevant than it used to be. WebExtensions didn't help it grow, they just gave skeptics an easy way out. And we actually need a strong Firefox, because otherwise, the future of the Web won't be that marvelous. Remember 2003? On the other hand, with proposed changes in Chrome adblocking, there's almost cosmic balance in the browser scene. Still, remember 2003?

Philosophy aside, Noscript for Chrome works as intended - fast, lean, simple to use and configure, and it sanitizes the pages from so much nonsense you can't believe what the modern Internet is like until you get to see the difference. You also benefit from some extra security and privacy too. All in all, a good day for Chrome users. But is this a cataclysmic turning point for the wider Web? Maybe. Maybe not so dramatic. Then again, this also gives us fearful Firefox users some hope. If Firefox ever disappears, we will still be able to use Chrome in a more controlled way. I wouldn't want the first eventuality to happen, but if it does, having extra options is always good. We shall see what happens.

Cheers.

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