How to detect if JavaScript is disabled?

How to detect if JavaScript is disabled?

There was a post this morning asking about how many people disable JavaScript. Then I began to wonder what techniques might be used to determine if the user has it disabled.
Does anyone know of some short/simple ways to detect if JavaScript is disabled? My intention is to give a warning that the site is not able to function properly without the browser having JS enabled.
Eventually I would want to redirect them to content that is able to work in the absence of JS, but I need this detection as a placeholder to start.


Solution 1:

I assume that you’re trying to decide whether or not to deliver JavaScript-enhanced content. The best implementations degrade cleanly, so that the site still operates without JavaScript. I also assume that you mean server-side detection, rather than using the <noscript> element for an unexplained reason.

There is not a good way to perform server-side JavaScript detection. As an alternative it is possible to set a cookie using JavaScript, and then test for that cookie using server-side scripting upon subsequent page views. However this would not be suitable for deciding what content to deliver as it would not be able to distinguish visitors without the cookie from new visitors or visitors who are blocking cookies.

Solution 2:

I’d like to add my .02 here. It’s not 100% bulletproof, but I think it’s good enough.

The problem, for me, with the preferred example of putting up some sort of “this site doesn’t work so well without Javascript” message is that you then need to make sure that your site works okay without Javascript. And once you’ve started down that road, then you start realizing that the site should be bulletproof with JS turned off, and that’s a whole big chunk of additional work.

So, what you really want is a “redirection” to a page that says “turn on JS, silly”. But, of course, you can’t reliably do meta redirections. So, here’s the suggestion:

    <style type="text/css">
        .pagecontainer {display:none;}
    <div class="noscriptmsg">
    You don't have javascript enabled.  Good luck with that.

…where all of the content in your site is wrapped with a div of class “pagecontainer”. The CSS inside the noscript tag will then hide all of your page content, and instead display whatever “no JS” message you want to show. This is actually what Gmail appears to do…and if it’s good enough for Google, it’s good enough for my little site.

Solution 3:

noscript blocks are executed when JavaScript is disabled, and are typically used to display alternative content to that you’ve generated in JavaScript, e.g.

<script type="javascript">
    ... construction of ajaxy-link,  setting of "js-enabled" cookie flag, etc..
    <a href="next_page.php?nojs=1">Next Page</a>

Users without js will get the next_page link – you can add parameters here so that you know on the next page whether they’ve come via a JS/non-JS link, or attempt to set a cookie via JS, the absence of which implies JS is disabled. Both of these examples are fairly trivial and open to manipulation, but you get the idea.

If you want a purely statistical idea of how many of your users have javascript disabled, you could do something like:

    <img src="no_js.gif" alt="Javascript not enabled" />

then check your access logs to see how many times this image has been hit. A slightly crude solution, but it’ll give you a good idea percentage-wise for your user base.

The above approach (image tracking) won’t work well for text-only browsers or those that don’t support js at all, so if your userbase swings primarily towards that area, this mightn’t be the best approach.

Solution 4:

This is what worked for me: it redirects a visitor if javascript is disabled

<noscript><meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=whatyouwant.html" /></noscript>

Solution 5:

If your use case is that you have a form (e.g., a login form) and your server-side script needs to know if the user has JavaScript enabled, you can do something like this:

<form onsubmit="this.js_enabled.value=1;return true;">
    <input type="hidden" name="js_enabled" value="0">
    <input type="submit" value="go">

This will change the value of js_enabled to 1 before submitting the form. If your server-side script gets a 0, no JS. If it gets a 1, JS!

Solution 6:

I’d suggest you go the other way around by writing unobtrusive JavaScript.

Make the features of your project work for users with JavaScript disabled, and when you’re done, implement your JavaScript UI-enhancements.