The ability to turn off animations in browsers

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The ability to turn off animations in browsers

Hidvégi Gábor
Hello everyone,

I'm new to this list, but not to the web, I've been working with it since
1999. My concerns about the destruction of our environment (thus the
extinction of species) and the growing hunger for energy (but the lack of
cheap renewable energy) have led me to ask developers to reduce the
energy-consumption of the websites we create. This can be achieved by giving
the users the ability to turn off animations browserwide to save energy and
time.

Theory

a, Most of our energy resources pollute or danger the environment:
1, petroleum is still cheap, but it is going to deplete in our future, and
it's polluting
2, coal is polluting
3, solar energy is expensive
4, nuclear energy is dangerous because no governments can ensure the
guarding of nuclear waste for 10 000 years (until then they can be used to
build nuclear weapons for example by terrorists)

b, Even though the number mobile devices is growing, but the technology of
battery cells is developing much slower, leading to user inconvenience.

c, Website animations come with two problems:
1, they cost energy to render
2, many user interactions can only be started only after an animation has
already finished, so users' time is wasted
By summarizing these little seconds in global, we are talking about years
and gigawatts.

Proposal

I propose to make two little additions to the browsers:

1, a global / per site setting to turn off animations
This can be done for example by setting the durations of animations to 0
second

2, a global variable that can be read to determine of the animation setting
This can be used by libraries like jQery to set their animation durations to
0
For example it could be read like this:
if (window.animationsTurnedOff) {
  (...)
}

Gábor Hidvégi
Hungary




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Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers

Tim Leverett
I'm intrigued by this request. Would you mind sharing your data that shows how animations specifically produce a significant difference in power consumption across devices?



On Thu, Jun 6, 2013 at 6:57 AM, Hidvégi Gábor <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hello everyone,

I'm new to this list, but not to the web, I've been working with it since 1999. My concerns about the destruction of our environment (thus the extinction of species) and the growing hunger for energy (but the lack of cheap renewable energy) have led me to ask developers to reduce the energy-consumption of the websites we create. This can be achieved by giving the users the ability to turn off animations browserwide to save energy and time.

Theory

a, Most of our energy resources pollute or danger the environment:
1, petroleum is still cheap, but it is going to deplete in our future, and it's polluting
2, coal is polluting
3, solar energy is expensive
4, nuclear energy is dangerous because no governments can ensure the guarding of nuclear waste for 10 000 years (until then they can be used to build nuclear weapons for example by terrorists)

b, Even though the number mobile devices is growing, but the technology of battery cells is developing much slower, leading to user inconvenience.

c, Website animations come with two problems:
1, they cost energy to render
2, many user interactions can only be started only after an animation has already finished, so users' time is wasted
By summarizing these little seconds in global, we are talking about years and gigawatts.

Proposal

I propose to make two little additions to the browsers:

1, a global / per site setting to turn off animations
This can be done for example by setting the durations of animations to 0 second

2, a global variable that can be read to determine of the animation setting
This can be used by libraries like jQery to set their animation durations to 0
For example it could be read like this:
if (window.animationsTurnedOff) {
 (...)
}

Gábor Hidvégi
Hungary





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Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers

David Woolley (E.L)
Tim Leverett wrote:
> I'm intrigued by this request. Would you mind sharing your data that
> shows how animations specifically produce a significant difference in
> power consumption across devices?

The extreme case would be e-Ink based devices, which have very low idle
power consumptions, but the trend with "web designers" is to use all the
processing power that they can get their hands on, in order get the
attention of jaded users, at a time when hardware is getting better and
better at power management.  Low end gaming GPUs can have a power
consumption change of 60 watts between a static picture and maximum
animation, and CPUs may also vary by about that much.

I'd actually want this for accessibility and usability reasons.  For the
elderly and people with more formal cognitive disabilities, the
animation is distracting - its often meant to be - its there to get
people to look at the advertising, rather than the editorial.

Actually, I'd also suggest the increasing number of pages that seem to
be continually running scripts also has an impact on energy wastage.  I
tend to see this in terms of hogging the CPU on a single core system,
but, on a modern system I'm sure that produces a quite significant power
consumption.

This is all really a "web design" rather than an HTML issue.
>


--
David Woolley
Emails are not formal business letters, whatever businesses may want.
RFC1855 says there should be an address here, but, in a world of spam,
that is no longer good advice, as archive address hiding may not work.

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Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers

Hidvégi Gábor
In reply to this post by Tim Leverett
Hey, I have just found a pdf about advertisements energy consumption - made
by a dutch university -, which is not 100% relevant, but you can get the
picture:
http://eprints.eemcs.utwente.nl/18066/01/Hidden-Energy-Costs.pdf

Personally I haven't made any measurements yet, but for me it's quite
obvious that displaying content with no animations costs less energy than
the same with animations turned on. I'm planning though to create test cases
and measure how animations affect battery drains on mobile devices.

Don't forget that we are talking about huge numbers. Hundreds of millions of
people use the internet day by day, if only 10 percent of them would turn
off animations to save energy, that could save the output of hundreds of
wind turbines for example - worldwide.

Gábor Hidvégi


----- Original Message -----
From: "Tim Leverett" <[hidden email]>
To: "Hidvégi Gábor" <[hidden email]>
Cc: <[hidden email]>
Sent: Monday, June 10, 2013 6:04 PM
Subject: Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers


I'm intrigued by this request. Would you mind sharing your data that shows
how animations specifically produce a significant difference in power
consumption across devices?




On Thu, Jun 6, 2013 at 6:57 AM, Hidvégi Gábor <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hello everyone,
>
> I'm new to this list, but not to the web, I've been working with it since
> 1999. My concerns about the destruction of our environment (thus the
> extinction of species) and the growing hunger for energy (but the lack of
> cheap renewable energy) have led me to ask developers to reduce the
> energy-consumption of the websites we create. This can be achieved by
> giving the users the ability to turn off animations browserwide to save
> energy and time.
>
> Theory
>
> a, Most of our energy resources pollute or danger the environment:
> 1, petroleum is still cheap, but it is going to deplete in our future, and
> it's polluting
> 2, coal is polluting
> 3, solar energy is expensive
> 4, nuclear energy is dangerous because no governments can ensure the
> guarding of nuclear waste for 10 000 years (until then they can be used to
> build nuclear weapons for example by terrorists)
>
> b, Even though the number mobile devices is growing, but the technology of
> battery cells is developing much slower, leading to user inconvenience.
>
> c, Website animations come with two problems:
> 1, they cost energy to render
> 2, many user interactions can only be started only after an animation has
> already finished, so users' time is wasted
> By summarizing these little seconds in global, we are talking about years
> and gigawatts.
>
> Proposal
>
> I propose to make two little additions to the browsers:
>
> 1, a global / per site setting to turn off animations
> This can be done for example by setting the durations of animations to 0
> second
>
> 2, a global variable that can be read to determine of the animation
> setting
> This can be used by libraries like jQery to set their animation durations
> to 0
> For example it could be read like this:
> if (window.animationsTurnedOff) {
>  (...)
> }
>
> Gábor Hidvégi
> Hungary
>
>
>
>
>


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Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers

David Woolley (E.L)
Hidvégi Gábor wrote:
> Hey, I have just found a pdf about advertisements energy consumption -
> made by a dutch university -, which is not 100% relevant, but you can
> get the picture:
> http://eprints.eemcs.utwente.nl/18066/01/Hidden-Energy-Costs.pdf
>

The problem with this proposal is that very few end user will go to the
trouble of using this feature, or even be aware of it.  That's already a
problem with accessibility and security features.  As the advertisers
fund the web industry, there will be strong pressures to not enable it
by default.

If there is some take up, there will be pressure on site designers to
design sites in such a way that the editorial is not really usable with
the feature enabled; that is something that, for example, makes elective
decisions to block scripting, for security reasons, unworkable in practice.

Don't get me wrong, I do think it would be a desirable feature, but, if
implemented, it is likely to end up on an advanced options tab, where
only <1% of users enable it, and its usability will erode with time.

You might want to note that, quite a few years ago, the main focus of
HTML discussion moved to a much more commercial wants oriented, non-W3C,
mailing list, where support for animation was one of the main wants.
The www-html list probably has a disproportionate number of people who
still believe in the concepts like the semantic web, and the original
divergence in the design philosophy of HTML from the state of computer
mediated advertising at the time.

--
David Woolley
Emails are not formal business letters, whatever businesses may want.
RFC1855 says there should be an address here, but, in a world of spam,
that is no longer good advice, as archive address hiding may not work.


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Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers

David Woolley (E.L)
In reply to this post by David Woolley (E.L)
David Woolley wrote:

> attention of jaded users, at a time when hardware is getting better and
> better at power management.  Low end gaming GPUs can have a power
> consumption change of 60 watts between a static picture and maximum
> animation, and CPUs may also vary by about that much.
>

Some more subtle ways in which they increase power consumption is that
they force the continual updating of PCs to more powerful ones, which
means that the baseline power consumption tends to stay the same, rather
than taking advantage of increases in the processing power to electrical
power ratio and actually results in higher peak power consumptions. Also
there is an energy cost (which could exceed the running cost) in the
manufacturing of the ever more powerful PCs needed to continue to obtain
the same quality of editorial content.

--
David Woolley
Emails are not formal business letters, whatever businesses may want.
RFC1855 says there should be an address here, but, in a world of spam,
that is no longer good advice, as archive address hiding may not work.

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Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers

Patrick H. Lauke
In reply to this post by David Woolley (E.L)
On 11/06/2013 08:06, David Woolley wrote:
> The
> www-html list probably has a disproportionate number of people who still
> believe in the concepts like the semantic web, and the original
> divergence in the design philosophy of HTML from the state of computer
> mediated advertising at the time.

It also has a disproportionate number of people who write about "web
designers" or "stylists" (in quotes, for effect) to show their disdain,
it seems ;)

P
--
Patrick H. Lauke
______________________________________________________________
re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
[latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]

www.splintered.co.uk | www.photographia.co.uk
http://redux.deviantart.com | http://flickr.com/photos/redux/
______________________________________________________________
twitter: @patrick_h_lauke | skype: patrick_h_lauke
______________________________________________________________

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Web Designers (was: The ability to turn off animations in browsers)

David Woolley (E.L)
Patrick H. Lauke wrote:
> On 11/06/2013 08:06, David Woolley wrote:

>
> It also has a disproportionate number of people who write about "web
> designers" or "stylists" (in quotes, for effect) to show their disdain,
> it seems ;)

The reason I put "web designer" in quotes, was that the web is actually
the hyperlinks that produce a rich network between multiple sites,
whereas most people designing documents are not interested in designing
to create such a web, and the network of links is a very low priority.

A web designer is really a designer of media for consumption using the
graphical rendering capabilities of "web" browsers, rather than their
web capabilities.

I don't think I have ever used "stylists" in quotes.

I would note that I find a lot of people, at least amongst the over 45s,
who really would prefer simple, static, "web site" design, and really do
not like the trend to pop-ups, disguised links, etc.  These are not
people of whom I've been asking leading questions.

--
David Woolley
Emails are not formal business letters, whatever businesses may want.
RFC1855 says there should be an address here, but, in a world of spam,
that is no longer good advice, as archive address hiding may not work.

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Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers

Hidvégi Gábor
In reply to this post by David Woolley (E.L)
The browser vendors could also benefit from this ability. Last week I read
this article which gave me the idea:
http://blogs.windows.com/ie/b/ie/archive/2013/06/05/internet-explorer-10-is-the-most-energy-efficient-browser-on-windows-8.aspx

Many people care about the environment, just think about the ones who buy
electric/hybrid cars; turning off animations would only need a few
clicks/taps. The first browser vendor who could define its product as
"green" would be a great opportunity. For example Mozilla / phone operators
could turn this feature on by default on their low cost/slow hardware mobile
devices to offer even more power.

Gábor Hidvégi


----- Original Message -----
From: "David Woolley" <[hidden email]>
To: <[hidden email]>
Cc: "Hidvégi Gábor" <[hidden email]>
Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 9:21 AM
Subject: Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers


> David Woolley wrote:
>
>> attention of jaded users, at a time when hardware is getting better and
>> better at power management.  Low end gaming GPUs can have a power
>> consumption change of 60 watts between a static picture and maximum
>> animation, and CPUs may also vary by about that much.
>>
>
> Some more subtle ways in which they increase power consumption is that
> they force the continual updating of PCs to more powerful ones, which
> means that the baseline power consumption tends to stay the same, rather
> than taking advantage of increases in the processing power to electrical
> power ratio and actually results in higher peak power consumptions. Also
> there is an energy cost (which could exceed the running cost) in the
> manufacturing of the ever more powerful PCs needed to continue to obtain
> the same quality of editorial content.
>
> --
> David Woolley
> Emails are not formal business letters, whatever businesses may want.
> RFC1855 says there should be an address here, but, in a world of spam,
> that is no longer good advice, as archive address hiding may not work.
>
>


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Re: Web Designers (was: The ability to turn off animations in browsers)

Hidvégi Gábor
In reply to this post by David Woolley (E.L)
Besides what you write ("A web designer is really a designer of media for
consumption") another problem is with the current approach is the overuse of
javascript also makes the content they produce to be harder to index. What's
the use of a cool application if less people find it actually? But it should
have been expected, since in HTML 5 and CSS 3 the visuals have been
developed, and almost nothing about semantics.

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Woolley" <[hidden email]>
To: "Patrick H. Lauke" <[hidden email]>
Cc: "W3C HTML Mailing List" <[hidden email]>
Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 9:41 AM
Subject: Web Designers (was: The ability to turn off animations in browsers)


> Patrick H. Lauke wrote:
>> On 11/06/2013 08:06, David Woolley wrote:
>
>>
>> It also has a disproportionate number of people who write about "web
>> designers" or "stylists" (in quotes, for effect) to show their disdain,
>> it seems ;)
>
> The reason I put "web designer" in quotes, was that the web is actually
> the hyperlinks that produce a rich network between multiple sites, whereas
> most people designing documents are not interested in designing to create
> such a web, and the network of links is a very low priority.
>
> A web designer is really a designer of media for consumption using the
> graphical rendering capabilities of "web" browsers, rather than their web
> capabilities.
>
> I don't think I have ever used "stylists" in quotes.
>
> I would note that I find a lot of people, at least amongst the over 45s,
> who really would prefer simple, static, "web site" design, and really do
> not like the trend to pop-ups, disguised links, etc.  These are not people
> of whom I've been asking leading questions.
>
> --
> David Woolley
> Emails are not formal business letters, whatever businesses may want.
> RFC1855 says there should be an address here, but, in a world of spam,
> that is no longer good advice, as archive address hiding may not work.
>
>


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Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers

Stu Cox
In reply to this post by David Woolley (E.L)
On 10 June 2013 17:59, David Woolley <[hidden email]> wrote:
The extreme case would be e-Ink based devices, which have very low idle power consumptions, but the trend with "web designers" is to use all the processing power that they can get their hands on, in order get the attention of jaded users, at a time when hardware is getting better and better at power management.  Low end gaming GPUs can have a power consumption change of 60 watts between a static picture and maximum animation, and CPUs may also vary by about that much.

I'd actually want this for accessibility and usability reasons.  For the elderly and people with more formal cognitive disabilities, the animation is distracting - its often meant to be - its there to get people to look at the advertising, rather than the editorial.

Actually, I'd also suggest the increasing number of pages that seem to be continually running scripts also has an impact on energy wastage.  I tend to see this in terms of hogging the CPU on a single core system, but, on a modern system I'm sure that produces a quite significant power consumption.

This is all really a "web design" rather than an HTML issue.


I think being able to disable power-intensive browser features would be a very good thing. With FF OS apparently targeting low-cost devices & emerging markets, it's something I could imagine being very beneficial there – and something I've thought about myself.

However, in order for it to *work*, designers and developers would have to shift their thinking. Even with feature detection, loads of assumptions are still frequently made: that support for X implies support for Y (because all current browsers which support X also support Y).

Developers define their browser support and assume they have everything those browsers support, then feature detect thereafter. Being able to disable features turns every "yes" in a caniuse.com table into a "maybe" and gives a minimum spec less meaning: an app supporting IE10+ would still need to feature detect animations.

I actually think it would be very beneficial for browser and device compatibility and accessibility if developers took an "assume nothing" approach and considered that any individual browser, device or user capability may or may not be present. Education would be a serious challenge though.

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Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers

Philip Taylor (Webmaster, Ret'd)
In reply to this post by Hidvégi Gábor


Hidvégi Gábor wrote:

> I'm new to this list, but not to the web, I've been working with it
> since 1999. My concerns about the destruction of our environment
> (thus the extinction of species) and the growing hunger for energy
> (but the lack of cheap renewable energy) have led me to ask
> developers to reduce the energy-consumption of the websites we
> create. This can be achieved by giving the users the ability to turn
> off animations browserwide to save energy and time.

To be honest, I do not think that animations /per se/ are a major
cause of concern, either from the energy perspective or from
the perspective of wasted computer resources.  Of far greater
concern, from my perspective at least, is the use of video-based
advertising.  Quite clearly I (and 99.999% of others) have zero
interest in the content, yet without my consent it is streamed
using my bandwidth and displayed using my resources, not only
when I visit some web pages (where at least AdBlock Plus can
assist) but also (for example) when I use the "Home" option
in Skype (where AdBlock Plus is of zero benefit).  If we could
successfully address this issue, we might effect far far greater
savings in resource utilisation than could ever be achieved by
preventing animation from occurring.

Philip Taylor

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Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers

Patrick H. Lauke
So, now that we've had a go at venting about "web designers" who use all
our CPU for animations and scripts, and advertisers for pushing wasteful
video our way (not just in the browser, but also in unrelated
technologies like Skype's native client) - and I'm surprised the old
"dark websites use less power on my CRT than bright websites" - the more
fundamental question:

Why is this being discussed on www-html? Are we proposing some change to
HTML that will solve these issues?

If we're saying "we'd like a setting in browsers that allows users to
suppress animations, scripts running in the background, video/audio
content autostarting, etc" then should this kind of request not be
directed at individual browser manufacturers? Or is there some new
element/meta/HTTP-header we're trying to come up with here?

P
--
Patrick H. Lauke
______________________________________________________________
re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
[latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]

www.splintered.co.uk | www.photographia.co.uk
http://redux.deviantart.com | http://flickr.com/photos/redux/
______________________________________________________________
twitter: @patrick_h_lauke | skype: patrick_h_lauke
______________________________________________________________

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Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers

Simon de Vlieger
Gabor,

your idea is fantastic even though I personally found the motivation a bit "much".

It is a good idea to give users the option to turn animations off. Full stop.

I see some people are worried about how users will find this out but there is no reason to worry about this, laptops, netbooks and such already make their power profiles known and browsers could respond to this by automatically turning off animations when a device is on low power or in power-savings mode.

However I do think the problem is twofold, there is one part where your idea of adding a globally accessible variable for javascript, which is good but does sadly depend on implementations by frameworks and will never catch old unmaintained hand-written animations (god even I might still have a few of those out there).

This is something we can probably never change.

The other part is that CSS3 transitions are becoming more prevalent. Both in javascript frameworks relegating to the browsers in lieu of their old setInterval/setTimeout ways but also in the case of people writing them ourselves.

I think browser makers can implement this setting directly in the way they handle CSS3 transitions but I do not know how this will pan out for developers who do not take into account handling certain cases gracefully (there is probably some code out there which assumes a certain thing to last a certain time and then does something else).

Regards,

Simon de Vlieger


On 12 June 2013 11:07, Patrick H. Lauke <[hidden email]> wrote:
So, now that we've had a go at venting about "web designers" who use all our CPU for animations and scripts, and advertisers for pushing wasteful video our way (not just in the browser, but also in unrelated technologies like Skype's native client) - and I'm surprised the old "dark websites use less power on my CRT than bright websites" - the more fundamental question:

Why is this being discussed on www-html? Are we proposing some change to HTML that will solve these issues?

If we're saying "we'd like a setting in browsers that allows users to suppress animations, scripts running in the background, video/audio content autostarting, etc" then should this kind of request not be directed at individual browser manufacturers? Or is there some new element/meta/HTTP-header we're trying to come up with here?


P
--
Patrick H. Lauke
______________________________________________________________
re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
[latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]

www.splintered.co..uk | www.photographia.co.uk
http://redux.deviantart.com | http://flickr.com/photos/redux/
______________________________________________________________
twitter: @patrick_h_lauke | skype: patrick_h_lauke
______________________________________________________________


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Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers

Hidvégi Gábor
In reply to this post by Patrick H. Lauke
Hey Patrick,

thanks for the answer, what's the best way to contact browser
vendors/responsible leaders?

Gábor


----- Original Message -----
From: "Patrick H. Lauke" <[hidden email]>
To: <[hidden email]>
Sent: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 11:07 AM
Subject: Re: The ability to turn off animations in browsers


> So, now that we've had a go at venting about "web designers" who use all
> our CPU for animations and scripts, and advertisers for pushing wasteful
> video our way (not just in the browser, but also in unrelated technologies
> like Skype's native client) - and I'm surprised the old "dark websites use
> less power on my CRT than bright websites" - the more fundamental
> question:
>
> Why is this being discussed on www-html? Are we proposing some change to
> HTML that will solve these issues?
>
> If we're saying "we'd like a setting in browsers that allows users to
> suppress animations, scripts running in the background, video/audio
> content autostarting, etc" then should this kind of request not be
> directed at individual browser manufacturers? Or is there some new
> element/meta/HTTP-header we're trying to come up with here?
>
> P
> --
> Patrick H. Lauke
> ______________________________________________________________
> re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
> [latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]
>
> www.splintered.co.uk | www.photographia.co.uk
> http://redux.deviantart.com | http://flickr.com/photos/redux/
> ______________________________________________________________
> twitter: @patrick_h_lauke | skype: patrick_h_lauke
> ______________________________________________________________
>
>