Deciding on Using a Browser Feature via Baseline

Google has this little widget called Baseline. Here’s a screenshot example:

The idea is for it to accompany a web platform feature so you can have a sense of what browsers support it. Web developers are rightfully skeptical of new web tech, wanting to know when they can actually use a feature, so this is helpful.

But there is crucial information missing here. Developers don’t decide to use a feature only based on browser support, but also:

  1. Based on if that feature could be considered a progressive enhancement
  2. Based on if that feature has a polyfill

Jeremy Keith brought this up and has a great point.

Not all browser features work the same way. For features that work as progressive enhancements you don’t need to wait for them to be widely available.

For example, if you’re looking at the View Transitions API, you’ll see:

And perhaps go awww bummer I can’t use it! But that would be wrong. You can use it. The API is designed such that you can write code that will use it if it’s available or not if it’s not. It’s really not a big deal.

That’s a beautiful part of progressive enhancement, as Jeremy says:

… there’s a real irony in a common misunderstanding around progressive enhancement: some people seem to think it’s about not being able to use advanced browser features. In reality it’s the opposite. Progressive enhancement allows you to use advanced browser features even before they’re widely supported.

Need front-end development training?

Frontend Masters logo

Frontend Masters is the best place to grow in your career as a developer. We have courses on all the most important front-end technologies and beyond, from React to CSS, to backend with Node.js and Full Stack.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *