Enhancement vs. degradation? 

Yahoo’s senior web developer Nate Koechley has published a very nice article about today’s browser support

This article can, as is, be added to the codex of web standards based web development. Nate managed to distillate some important web standards related techniques into a very clear and pure methodology called ‘graded browser support’. It’s like jigsaw pieces falling in place. 

The most important thing lies in the word support. Support doesn’t mean moving the earth trying to give everybody the same. Support means that everybody at least will be able to absorb content. How it looks and behaves will depend on the richness of the agent. This is called ‘graded browser support’.

There is just one little point i want to discuss. Nate puts progressive enhancement in favour of realizing graded browser support. The way I see this, is that a hybrid approach is more common. Using graceful degradation and progressive enhancement together. Just take a look at the figure above. I see both techniques more as a reactive and active way of dealing with browsers. When web standards related web development is your starting point, you have automatically implemented a graceful degradation mechanism. Web standards related web development means also:

  • using semantic mark-up
  • using css for layout and styling
  • do accessibility
  • decoupling the mark-up, style and behaviour layers.

Lack of standards support will degrade the content gracefully to its pure form. From this point on, browser’s grade of standards compliancy and added richness like plug-ins can be used to progressively enhance the user’s environment actively with behaviour and style.