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eBay Seller Release: JavaScript and Flash banned by 2017

By Chris Dawson April 5, 2016 - 1:24 pm

JavascripteBay just dropped a bomb shell for many eBay listing enhancement third party providers. From early 2017 eBay will be limiting the use of active content such as JavaScript and Flash in Item Descriptions.

eBay say that “The use of active content in listings, including JavaScript, Flash and form actions can inhibit purchases on mobile devices and can lead to abuse in the marketplace. From spring 2017, we’ll limit the use of active content in all new listings across all devices and it will not appear by default. Later in 2017, we plan to remove or block listings with active content. We encourage you to limit your use of active content now“.

eBay have given plenty of notice for developers to rewrite the code for their content (perhaps using HTML5 standards) and will provide more information later this year about which functionality will be limited and provide the specific timing in early 2017.

eBay are working closely with third party partners in cases where they use active content on your item descriptions.

eBay suggest that you remove active content today for faster load times of your listings, optimisation for mobile devices and importantly a more secure marketplace.

The security aspect is the most important. Historically sellers have used third party tools to add in functionality that eBay simply didn’t have. Sadly scammers use similar code for malicious purposes.

I remember the days when if you wanted a picture on your listing you had to use a service like Photobucket and code it manually. If you wanted an image gallery you had to use some JavaScript and if you wanted to cross promote your other listings you would probably have used a tool like the Auctiva scrolling galleries.

Today eBay have functionality to display images and eBay’s gallery works better for mobile display and for desktop search, they have cross promotion tools and there really shouldn’t be much need to add widgets to your listings. If you do want to then your widget creator will have to use modern code, not active content.

  • Andy R
    1 year ago

    Presumably this kyboshes the Auctiva scrolling gallery used by many sellers.

    • 1 year ago

      Not entirely… 3rd party providers simply need to recode using HTML5 instead of code from the late 1990’s

    • Rai
      1 year ago

      Removing Javascript but allowing html5 would be completely nonsensical. Javascript isn’t ‘outdated’ even if the same copyposted code used by some old service is.

      I think just removing all functionality for such things would be better. Allow basic html or similar assisted WYSIWYG functions for descriptions as it’s all you need.

      html5 is absolutely terrible on phones, too.

    • 1 year ago

      I know, let’s use iframes! :D

  • JC
    1 year ago

    This has been a long time coming, both pieces of software are open to threat and completely obsolete

    Update was going to happen sooner rather than later and I think giving 8 months is a lot of time to do those updates

    I imagine a lot of people will just read the title and flip the lid without reading the actual article that explains the reasons why it needs to be taken off

    Another good change that will go in line with the mobile changes, in which over 60% of all buyers are now using

    • Dan Shepherd
      1 year ago

      Javascript is a programming language not a piece of software. Flash is outdated and obsolete. Javascript is perfectly acceptable language which does simple things HTML5 can’t yet – for instance anchor text links to different parts of the page which isn’t possible in standard HTML on eBay because they use iFrames for the description.
      Javascript also does things with dates and variables (for reusable titles and code) that HTML5 does not – there’s a lot of reason to keep the basic Javascript support (which is already locked down and restricted to nothing damaging anyway).

      I think when you though of outdated software you might have been getting mixed up with Java.

  • james
    1 year ago

    looking forward by walking backward.

    lets take several years (and start late) tailoring everything to the small screen. by the time we’re done, the small screen will be a different size.

    my phone does internet perfectly. it has an option for PC mode, where it doesnt show the crappy, cut-down, low budget version of a website, but the correct, full-fat, as-intended website.
    it works perfectly, on just about the whole internet, bar ebay.

    on ebay, it dont matter if its a plain text description, somehow, ebay manage to put it in an unviewable, unnecessary, viewing frame.

    why not follow best practice, concentrate on one good website, rather than 17 broken ones (mobile version, tablet version, desktop version, app version, google crawler version, version where nobody sees your listings except you)… by the time they get their ship in order, mobiles will all be capable of showing the one working website everyone is looking for.

    I’m relieved this 2016 seller release isnt asking us to WAP-enable our listings.

  • Andy R
    1 year ago

    This is going to mean sellers editing each one of their items to comply. You certainly can’t remove Auctiva by simply closing your account.

    If you’ve got 50,000 or 100,000 listings you are not going to be a happy bunny.

    Shades of the 500 pixels debacle again when sellers were forced to resize each pic, despite Ebay’s own picture service resizing relisted items to 400 pixels !!!

    Took effing months to comply with that one!

    • Gary
      1 year ago

      You can do a mass edit of a standard section of a listing using turbolister.

    • Andy R
      1 year ago

      Yes, but even in TL you’d have to do it one by one, as you can’t mass edit item description, which is where the flash programming is located.

      Seems Ebay make a change each year now requiring mass editing of listings.

      But they never come up with a tool to help sellers do this, other than by hours and hours of pointless unpaid labour.

      If they make these changes, they should say here is the tool to make it easy for you.

    • Andy R
      1 year ago

      There should be people on the Ebay board who have experience as sellers, to ensure their view is heard.

      These sudden announcements are never thought out properly.

      How many have to be cancelled / revised / postponed due to not forseeing the problems it would cause.

      Yes, make changes to help mobile users buy on Ebay, but talk to sellers and develop the tool to enable them to comply.

      Ebay management are lazy, thoughtless buffoons.

  • Mike
    1 year ago

    Just wanted to clarify that this isn’t going to affect the pictures I use on eBay which are hosted from a different website – they’re just jpegs, nothing whizzy… if it does, I’m beyond stuffed…

    • 1 year ago

      Nope, you’ll be fine if they’re simply inserted with an ‘img’ HTML tag, or if you put them in as eBay Gallery images.

      However it’s much better to upload images to eBay as they’ll optimise them to the nth degree for display on mobile…

    • Ian A
      1 year ago

      I use img tags in the description as I spend ages doing pro photos then eBay optimise them reducing the definition

    • james
      1 year ago

      yeah if by “optimise” you mean “make really crappy” then ebay just love optimising everything for you.

  • Max
    1 year ago

    I’ve been told by our listing design service that not all types of Javascript are being banned and that all their templates should be fine? I don’t know any coding so I don’t really know what they mean by this. Is anyone able to clarify this at all?

    • 1 year ago

      eBay have made two statements:

      From spring 2017, we’ll limit the use of active content in all new listings across all devices and it will not appear by default.
      eBay haven’t yet defined what “limit the use of” means but the elements which use active content might not show or your entire description may disappear. Check back nearer the time…

      Later in 2017, we plan to remove or block listings with active content.
      Speak to your designer again in a few months when eBay have had time to release more detailed information.

    • Max
      1 year ago

      Thanks Chris.

    • 1 year ago

      The good news (without wanting this to sound like a scare tactic) is that your listing designer will want to get it right before any hard deadline or overnight they’ll not only use you but all their other customers will dump them too….

      I would let your provider worry about it for the moment :-)

    • Andy R
      1 year ago

      Yes, but any changes may not work retrospectively.

      With Auctiva, for example, the programming is embedded into each listing, so it can only be edited individually. No third party modification will change that.

      My point again, is that Ebay should provide the tools to deal with any issues, rather than expect sellers to spend endless hours editing, sometimes pointlessly, as Ebay backtracks so often anway.

      Besides, there are so many technical issues on the site, there are enough problems for sellers.

      It would be interesting to compare a list of priorities from serious sellers on Ebay compared to Ebay management.

    • Max
      1 year ago

      Could you not just bulk find and replace the javascript / active content within the listing descriptions. The auctiva “sellathon counter” and other bits they add in use scripts. I presume the code is the same on all listings you’ve published with auctiva?

  • Andy R
    1 year ago

    Actually is seems there is a way to remove the auctive scrolling gallery on Ebay.

    You have to cancel auctiva first and then bulk edit and replace the word “auctiva” in the item description with nothing.

    Seems to work.

  • Joseph Pong
    1 year ago

    These announcements are always comical, would love to see how ebay will explain to all of the national brands ie. Coach, ToysrUS, Pep Boys etc that you are not going to be able to brand yourself on eBay any longer because 90% of their branded design is run off javascript of some kind.

    This announcement is similar to that of the one a couple of years ago about the new store experience not allowing any kind of html however the back lash from bigger brands was so severe they still allow for custom stores.

    And lastly, they limited active content back in 2002, and if you drop Java onto a template or store NOW you get the error, so what the actual hell? lol

    • JC
      1 year ago

      Quite a lot of the larger stores are not ran off of java at all, the majority would use HTML5 as it makes viewing on a mobile much much easier

      Its unlikely a big store would be using something obsolete like java or flash

      With the majority of eBay sales going through mobile devices now it makes sense to make the viewing of an item better on that platform, ie what big brands have been doing for the last few years anyway

      Alls this announcement is doing is trying to get people that are using old software up to speed for security and ease of use on mobile

    • Dan Shepherd
      1 year ago

      You’re getting Java and Javascript mixed up, Java is obsolete software, Javascript is a perfectly current and legitimate language that is used lots online and offline.

  • 1 year ago

    This is actually good news – especially because there is a growing proportion of buyers who use mobile devices and the best way to optimise a listing is to keep it as simple as possible. Yes it is going to be a hard slog for those who need to adjust their listings but as someone else mentioned it has been a long time coming so I am glad it’s sooner than later!

  • Steve
    1 year ago

    Maybe before they start messing about with anything else they could fix the intermittent

    Page not responding error

    when clicking on messages its now very very annoying when coming back to work on a Monday to dozens of messages only to find eBay messages is still broken and defective

    Rant over

    • james
      1 year ago

      it can take up to (literally) five minutes for an ebay message to open.

      the past week or two i’m having every second message hang for 60 – 90 seconds, then fail to open.

      frustrating is not the word.

      I believe if ebay wanted (for whatever reason) to aggrevate sellers as much as possible, this would be a great way to go about it.

      theres no need for a basic (not even fully functioned) plain-text messaging system to be so ludicrously awful. its a joke.
      digital messaging systems were pretty much perfected back in the 90’s. many have evolved, ebay still fail to manage 20 year old basics.

      – i say failed, they have little or no interest in facilitating sellers and buyers to communicate effectively, they’re probably doing a great job of mining every piece of meaningless data out of every conversation, even if the net result is making the site unusable, i’m sure they’re all very happy with themselves and their messaging system.

  • George
    1 year ago

    Another huge change for sellers, yes it does appear these come every year. Oh just change all of your pictures to the new standard.

    Oh look your rival didn’t and now they have taken the best match. Never mind we will promise to look into it and do nothing.

    This latest one is particularly funny as

    ebay states it is to give a better experience on mobiles, yet has not stated that all html descriptions must be html responsive. ( Surely this would have made a lot more sense )

    ebay has already hidden the descriptions on mobile, made it almost impossible for users to view a sellers other items or shop front when the user is viewing from a mobile. ( still increased shop fees though) Aren’t 60% of visitors now using a mobile ?

    After attending a key merchant event where we were all told,” switch your descriptions to mobile responsive”. We paid a company to design our new template and then updated thousands of listings. To now find out oh you need to change all that. ( sales are up considerably) Guessing sales will drop again and as per usual no one ebay will give a

    One comment stated

    “Its unlikely a big store would be using something obsolete like java or flash” As of this writing just checked Argos, yes JS is present, infact check any of the big brands or top sellers from any one category and you will see JS is present. That is how the features work. Or how about ebay itself, iframes the descriptions in, and is heavily reliant on javascript, why do you think there is an ebay app ??

    Spoke with an ebay developer and he told me that ebay just don’t open up simple calls via the api which means even simple things like updating a sellers categories are not possible. He told me it has been that way for the last 8 – 10 years.

    OH and what about youtube videos, they are active content. Are they going to block these as well ?

    I am guessing from previous abortions ebay have birthed this will be another half arsed poorly implemented botched job.

    Roll on ebay managers making one bad disastrous decision after another, forcing your sellers in to hours of unpaid work, for an ever smaller margin.

    I checked before for iphone 6s case, the premium service was offering delivery next Wednesday ( its currently Friday) the quickest I could get any case was Tuesday.

    Ebay seems to be a revolving door for fools to get management positions. Ebay has failed to take the lead on so many good ideas no wonder the share price is around £25 and Amazons is around £525.

    Rant over

  • Max
    1 year ago

    Any idea on how this will affect store fronts? Is it being banned across them as well? Javascript has been really useful for our shop.

  • jason
    1 year ago

    With more and more online retailers using active content to help sell there items with videos, spiny round images that allow you to see the item from any angle and sound snippets for music retailers, eBay seems to take the opposite view to everyone….again. Remember the 10p Tax for unsold items on line for more than 18 months, well this again seems like the un-joined up thinking from a top team at eBay that are simply out of touch with there customers. What makes this announcement even stranger is the fact that eBay recognises the commercial need for videos from there corporate clients like Green Flag and Barclaycard who stream adverts on eBay but as for the rest of us the great unwashed who simply ignorant to the online world apparently. Rather than combating the failing infrastructure of this now vintage marketplace by investing in building a faster stronger online system, eBay once again ignores it’s own failings and points a suspicious finger at us the sellers. But the truth is, Holiday Settings, Add To Basket and the mobile app are just not fit for purpose. And removing active content is a large step backwards, I look forward to the Autumn update to see if eBay abandons the internet for a physical catalogue instead.

  • George
    1 year ago

    @Jason “I look forward to the Autumn update to see if eBay abandons the internet for a physical catalogue instead.” That is why they are so chummy with Argos.

    Priceless , I think they may see that comment and think it is a great idea.

    I wouldn’t panic to much our designers already contacted us and told us they are already working on a system that will be fully compliant and still allow ( at the minute 98 % of features to remain).

    (( NO we don’t use the most expensive 3 column design company ))

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