Gusty doc sprint at UW in Seattle

What do you get when you mix WebPlatform Docs, University of Washington, Western Washington University, W3C spec editors, web developers of all levels, a winter storm with gale-force winds, loss of power to 20,000 Seattleites, and a few bowling lanes? The second Seattle Doc Sprint, of course.

University of Washington entrance

This past Saturday, Microsoft hosted a doc sprint at the University of Washington. This was another successful mingling of WPD community members, coming together to beef up the content portfolio we maintain. We specifically reached out to students at UW and at Western Washington University (and bravo to those who made that two-hour trip, given the horrendous weather) to create a mix of people who are still learning and those who are actively practicing web development. All-in-all, about 45 people met in the Husky Union Building (the HUB). We kicked off the day with delicious Italian pastries and good strong coffee, and then got right to it. We had great energy in the room, and it showed in what we accomplished.

Doug Schepers’ talk, delivered from the East coast via Skype, kicked things off. Doug talked about the importance of the project, and more poignantly, why it was a good idea for everyone to give up their Saturday and venture out in the storm. After Doug’s talk, I gave some quick background about WebPlatform (you can see the slides on my share) and what we were working on. Then Alan Stearns spoke about what’s happening in CSS, how to edit a CSS property page, and where to get help for editing MediaWiki. Then, we were off to the races.

We had only a few goals for the sprint:

  • Review CSS property pages that have been marked as done
  • Review HTML element pages

But that was plenty! The low-hanging fruit were the pages that just plain looked good, and we found a lot of those. Others were missing a value or example. Some needed just a tad of editing. In reviewing the pages, some contributors felt more comfortable marking down in notes what needed further work, some ran into issues in creating content, but most just hit the edit button and just went for it.

Working at the doc sprint with various levels of success

The HTML elements were a little more uneven. Some of the pages have received a great deal of love and looked bellisimo! We gave some other pages a little extra TLC, in order to make them as beautiful as that first set. And there were times when working on some of the elements required working on some attribute pages as well, so we did that, too (thanks, apexskier!).

A big shout out to all who attended and took part in the doc sprint. This was a ridiculously hard working group of contributors. I practically had to beg everyone to break for lunch. When all was said and done, these hard-working souls reviewed, edited, created, and curated 201 topics by the end of the day, an astounding amount! We all were rewarded by the knowledge that we did a lot of good work. And everyone who participated was further rewarded with a WebPlatform t-shirt and John Allsopp’s book, “Developing with web standards.” And one fellow with abundant good fortune won a Microsoft Surface Pro.

Winner of the Surface Pro

We’re looking forward to more doc sprints both here in the Puget Sound region and around the world! And in case you were wondering, no, we did not lose power on campus.

Special thanks to Alan Stearns of Adobe and David Storey, our local CSS and WebPlatform gurus, who tirelessly roamed the room and answered questions about HTML, SQL blocks, CSS, what makes good pizza, and many other topics.

Post-doc sprint bowling in UW's HUB

Post-doc sprint bowling in UW’s HUB

WPW: Reading, writing, and CSS properties

Are you finding it difficult to think about reference documentation when fall is in the air?

I stood in the playground at my son’s school this morning, watching the kids kick balls, play hopscotch, and text each other across the school yard. The leaves on the trees were beginning to show the autumnal colors that mark the end of summer. The bell rang, marking the start of the day, and the children grabbed their shiny backpacks from where they had dropped them. They headed off into the school, toward their individual classrooms, prepared to face their lessons and assignments.

hopscotch

Likewise for us, the halcyon days of summer have drawn to a close. I left the playground and travelled until I walked up to the front door of my office building and took note of the leaves changing colors (as well as my coworkers kicking balls around the parking lot and playing hopscotch on the sidewalk). I though about the kerjillion leaves I will soon have to rake up, and I literally sighed as I opened the door, my laptop weighing heavily in my backpack.

But I am an optimist, my friends, and so I soon turned my frown upside down. For the beginning of fall means heading back to school and work to dig into those special projects we’ve recently neglected in favor of frivolous summer pursuits. But which projects to tackle first?

“Why, what a lucky day,” I thought!  “There are CSS properties just waiting for our WPW fall cleanup!”

When you’ve finished your lunch (don’t forget to drink your milk), grab your coat and join me out in the WPD school yard. We’ll head to the Web Platform Wednesdays page where we’ll see that for the 2013 Sep 4 entry, we’ve got this pithy request:

Go through the Web Platform Wednesday past reports and choose one that hasn’t been completed. You might want to start with last week’s list, revisit summer with all of August, or look for outliers in July!

Oh, but I know that you’re a tetherball champion. And you–yes, you–didn’t you swing over the top of the bar last spring? So sign up for two CSS properties! Heck, I double dare you to choose three. And let’s see how many of the properties we can get cleaned up before the last leaf hits the ground.

Thanks so much for your help. And thanks for indulging my inner child.

Web Platform Wednesday: text adornment

Why, oh why, would you want to use text without adornment on a webpage? That’s so 1990’s. This week we focus our Web Platform Wednesday work on some more CSS properties that take plain text and make it stand out in a crowd. We’ve selected a little over a dozen CSS properties from the CSS3 Text, the CSS Exclusions Module Level 1, and the CSS Line Layout Module Level 3 specifications, and we’re looking for volunteers to create, edit, and review the reference content for each of them on Webplatform Docs.

Sure, this is just a subset of what you can do with text using CSS, but I’d like to think that these properties enable the tasteful accessorizing of text, adding just the right touch to your work (without going so far as to be tacky, a la the CSS WG’s April fool’s joke from 2012).

And so this is where you come in. You’re unique; you have that certain je ne sais quoi about you. Bring that panache, that élan, and use it to help document the web. And as you can see, a number of the properties are either obsolete or unsupported and require minimal documentation, so this week’s group is fun and easy!

Let one of the coordinators know which CSS properties you are interested in documenting. Make sure you have a user account for Webplatform Docs. And then follow the guidelines on the Web Platform Wednesday page. There are lots of people to help, should you run into any snags. And, voila, you’re documenting the web!

What is Web Platform Wednesday?

There are many contributors doing work throughout Webplatform Docs. Some are working on infrastructure, some on community, some in content, and some lurking in the corners, waiting for the perfect opportunity. Web Platform Wednesday is a way to find a volunteer opportunity for those looking to add some value to the project. In the weekly meetings, we choose areas of priority for the project and then actively solicit help. Right now, we’re working on completing a pass on our CSS property docs. Join in. Bienvenue!

Inaugural Doc Sprint for Seattle, June 22!

Webplatform.org continues to grow in all facets: breadth of content, accuracy, community health, and site usefulness. It’s a testament to the vibrancy of our community that we now have almost twenty thousand registered users! And though we are making great progress in building our “community-driven site that aims to become a comprehensive and authoritative source for web developer documentation,” there are still plenty of opportunities to make significant contributions.

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