Questions and Answers

1) Without JavaScript or the more advanced HTML 5.0, W3M clearly cannot render much of the modern web. How can it thus serve as a primary browser?

Short answer:

True, but it need not serve as your exclusive browser. With some readaptation in your browsing habits, it can handle 80% of cases while you appeal to the ordinary graphical browser for the exceptions. A mere keystroke redirects the url.

Longer answer

I imagine the following broad tiers of web content:

  1. Simple, predominantly textual pages (ie search engines, Wikipedia, many forums and blogs, and arguably the greater portion of the pre-HTML 5.0 web. As well as traditional, non-JavaScript form submissions.
  2. Richer, yet still 'strippable' content (non-critical JavaScript, pop-ups, limited CMS)
  3. Pages severely or entirely driven via CMS and JavaScript/Ajax (ie E-Commerce or Quora, or similarly dynamic pages that gradually load content as you navigate)

Tier 1 lends perfectly to a terminal-browser such as W3M.

Tier 2 renders either mostly or partially usable (requiring the graphical browser for some minority of features)

Tier 3 might either load severely hampered, or not at all.

Ultimately, refer to the short answer avove. Browsing habits aligned with simplicity, W3M can handle the majority of the important cases.

2) What about the lack of images?

I find this more of benefit than a hindrance.

True, much of the web consists of images. But what portion of all those images constitute crucial information (or even conductive art), and what portion strictly noise and bloat?

If your workflow demands consistent graphical throughput (ie image galleries), or you're a visually oriented web designer, you may be better off in a graphical browser.

If, however, like myself and many of us, the viewing of that legitimately critical image falls more along the exceptions, simply hover over the image placeholder and press the respective key to view that one image in an external viewer. Or if need be, load the entire page in the 'normie' browser (also via a single keystroke).