Progressive Enhancement “Debate”

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Nolan Lawson:

I had a slide in my talk that read:

In 2016, it’s okay to build a website that doesn’t work without JavaScript.

The condemnation was as swift as it was vocal.

Response by Jeremy Keith:

That framing makes it sound like it’s a binary choice: either the website works or it doesn’t. That’s not what I’m suggesting. I’m advocating that the core functionality of a website (which can be as simple as reading some text) should be available without JavaScript (because, let’s face it, that core functionality doesn’t require JavaScript).

Sounds like most people, Nolan and Jeremey included, agree that progressive enhancement doesn’t have to put a website in position of “JavaScript is enabled and loaded, so it works, or not enabled or not loaded, so it doesn’t work.” It’s more nuanced and happens on a feature-by-feature basis of a site.

That’s easy middle ground to agree on. But I think this debate keeps popping up over and over is because “binary” is increasingly how things are done. Not fully loaded JavaScript = white page of nothing. Plenty of folks saying: yikes. Plenty of folks saying: meh.

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