Ben Langhinrichs

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Graceful degradation or Progressive enhancement

Thu 8 Jan 2015, 10:34 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
No, I'm not talking about getting older, though my knees are certainly experiencing (graceful?) degradation and my glasses provide progressive enhancement. Instead, I am talking about two ways of viewing the design of complex web content so that the experience is as good as the device or browser or client allows, but does not break if the device or browser or client doesn't support some feature.
Since our area of expertise is rendering email from Notes to... anywhere, we face this issue from both directions. GMail and Outlook in Office 365 are both known for non-support of some HTML/CSS features (it isn't only Notes that gets grumbled about, and in fact Notes is better than either when simply reading MIME emails). On the other side, Apple's devices including the iPhone and iPad support HTML5 and CSS3, though I'll save that for another demo. Thus, when we generate high quality MIME in CoexLinks Fidelity, we must be mindful of how to degrade gracefully and allow progressive enhancement so that everybody gets the optimal experience.
I decided to focus on two of the images I showed in my last post, as they demonstrate this difference clearly but it might be missed if you didn't pay close attention.. In the Notes client, these display with a small box either empty (unchecked) or filled in (checked). Standard Domino mail doesn't offer a way to distinguish these, so the meaning is lost. Gmail and Office 365 don't allow for specialized list images, though most browsers do (including Firefox and the browser on the Android phone I use). But we still must distinguish between checked and unchecked, so we use the standard circle and bullet to represent unchecked and checked, but when the browser supports it, we replace this with images that look like Notes.
Look at just the right hand side of each image, at how the unchecked and checked item are represented. That is the sort of graceful degradation/progressive enhancement built in to CoexLinks Fidelity. We generate the same MIME for both, but take into account the impact of different rendering in Outlook, GMail, etc.
(Of course, you could easily try for yourself. Request an evaluation license today.)
Graceful degradation? (Outlook in Office 365 has limitations on what it can display)

Progressive enhancement? (Browser/mobile based email allow finer control)

Notes client 

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