Lynx : When Text is All You Need

The Lynx Users Guide v2.8.3 describes the Lynx browser as

… a fully-featured World Wide Web (WWW) client for users running cursor-addressable, character-cell display devices (e.g., vt100 terminals, vt100 emulators running on PCs or Macs, or any other character-cell display). It will display Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) documents containing links to files on the local system, as well as files on remote systems running http, gopher, ftp, wais, nntp, finger, or cso/ph/qi servers, and services accessible via logins to telnet, tn3270 or rlogin accounts (see URL Schemes Supported by Lynx). Current versions of Lynx run on Unix, VMS, Windows3.x/9x/NT, 386DOS and OS/2 EMX.

In English, it means you can surf pages really, really fast with this free browser because it excludes images, Flash, Javascript and other things that aren’t represented as text.

Why is this important to you and your church web site? Because many individuals who are visually impaired use Lynx, often coupling it with a system that will render the text as audio or in Braille. Lynx is also a good way to see what search engines and aggregators see.

As a programmer, I personally like Lynx when I need to wade through a long list of blogs. That and it can be combined with various programming languages such as Python, PHP and Perl to achieve an effect similar to Perl’s LWP::Simple — though using Lynx does mean running a system command (a potential security risk). Also, when used with the -source argument, Lynx becomes yet another way around those insidious anti-right click Nazis.

While Lynx is insanely small and easy to install, you may be in a situation where you cannot or don’t want to install Lynx — not at least without first seeing it in action. No problem. For that, I suggest a visit to Delorie’s Lynx View page.