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Progressive Enhancement of data

Factmint’s suite of data visualizations, Factmint Charts, are fundamentally based upon Progressive Enhancement. Maybe you are not sure what Progressive Enhancement is, or how it affects data visualization, but it is the real differentiator between Factmint Charts and the other data visualization tools out there. So, here is an explanation as to what it is and why it matters:

Most data visualizations use some model (often JavaScript objects) as the underlying data; that’s fine for producing the visualization but the data itself is completely invisible to search engines, screen-readers, etc. If JavaScript is disabled or if some required feature is missing, the user sees nothing. That is a problem.

Factmint Charts work by progressively enhancing HTML tables. That is, our users start with a simple HTML table as the representation of the data, then our scripts and CSS enhance that view of the data into a Pie Chart, or Bubble Chart or whatever.

Progressive enhancement focuses on the content. Note the difference: I didn’t even mention browsers. – A List Apart

In comparison to the alternatives, that means that the underlying data is completely visible to search engine crawlers, old browsers, screen-readers, people who disable JavaScript and Smart Fridges (maybe). As with all PE techniques, if the JavaScript is disabled or fails the HTML table is still there – the basic representation works in all cases. This approach is semantically accurate and readable, as well as increasing your addressable audience and search rankings.

Relative to some popular alternatives that stands the PE approach in good stead.

Interactive Accessible to old browsers Crawl-able by search engines
Factmint Charts Yes Yes Yes
Google Charts API Yes Yes, except Material designs No
Highcharts Yes Yes No
D3 Yes No (there are projects) No
Screenshot (JPEG) No Yes No, but may have metadata

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