WPW Week 1: Array

Here we are at Web Platform Wednesdays Week 1 for the JavaScript language reference! There’s a reason why organizations and individuals have come together to document the web platform here. The content can be used and reused anywhere, without complex terms. What you contribute is for everyone’s use. It’s sort of documentation neutrality. So while this may appear to be just another JavaScript reference that we’re embarking on, it really is different.

We’ve got the scaffolding down, thanks to Microsoft, but let’s add some magic — that special something that comes from giving a gift, unconditionally.

We’re starting with Array this week, focusing on the object, itself, the constructor, and those few properties that make Array a special object, such as length and isArray. When working with basic reference content, we have the opportunity to add some wise words (such as, unless there’s a reason not to, create an array using literal notation). And let’s up the ante with examples. What kinds of code helps you when you’re learning a new feature? What did you wish you knew back way back when you were starting with JavaScript?

There’s plenty to do, even if you’re not a JavaScript expert: check the values against those in the spec, make sure all of the content from the MSDN page were imported, or find great blog posts and articles. Join us this week as we get the facts down, provide clear information about the language, and share the magic. Check out the language elements and how the activities break down, then let us know what you want to do by emailing the public list.

Web Platform Wednesdays, meet JavaScript!

You’ve been waiting for a space to share your most treasured thoughts on JavaScript? Well, the wait is over. We’re ready for the second content project on webplatform.org. The JavaScript reference pages that Microsoft donated have been imported. That means we’re ready to make them ours! So, we’ll start up Web Platform Wednesdays again. There are about 350 language parts to review and improve.

Next week, we’ll have a list of JavaScript language elements that folks can add their wisdom to. We’ll publish the lists on Tuesday evenings PST, so that folks in Europe can start their Wednesdays with a fresh list.

Email the public list <public-webplatform@w3.org> with the pages you want to work on, and what you’re taking on (basic facts, explanations, samples, 3rd-party links…). If you’re interested in working on something not listed, no problem. Just let us know.

And if you’re particularly talented, we could use your help constructing what we call a gold standard page — an example that all other contributors can reference to see what we consider a great page. If you’re available now to work on a part of the gold standard, just email the public list <public-webplatform@w3.org> to sign up.

We’ll be live on the IRC channel #webplatform to help out on Wednesdays — we’re actually there a lot of the time — so join the channel and don’t be shy.

See you next week!

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

Birthday-party-slash-Doc-Sprint, Amsterdam, October 12, 2013

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead

Also, never doubt that a small group can get a lot done at a doc sprint, and the group at the Amsterdam doc sprint, however small, accomplished a lot of work on Web Platform Docs, moved the web forward, and changed the world. A small group, however, does have trouble polishing off a huge, chocolatey birthday cake, and we really could have done with more attendance on that front.

Indeed, the cake was not only not a lie, it was delicious. Careful with the knife, Doug.

The cake, the catering, and the venue, The Hub co-working space, were all orchestrated by our host, Paul Verbeek. Paul also coordinated with the Fronteers organization, which helped publicize the doc sprint, as it followed the Fronteers 2013 developer conference. Everything came off with great panache! Thanks, Paul!

The big story coming out this doc sprint is that we finished some 53 CSS properties, to bring the total number of CSS properties completed to within twenty of our goal for the project. Some of the work on those 53 properties was already done, in other doc sprints and by other contributors, so we mostly reviewed and put the finishing touches on these properties, and we were able to move very quickly through the list.

There are opportunities for us to add value to the web, apart from great documentation. In documenting the new auto value of the outline-style property we discovered that the specification did not describe exactly how the auto value should work as a standard, the spec leaves it up to the user agent, and when we tested it in several browsers on several systems, we were unable to discern a common pattern. This struck us as falling short, so we dispatched a missive to the CSS working group, recommending that the behavior of the auto value be more clearly defined. We’re waiting to hear back from them. But the point is, we took the opportunity to not only document the auto value, but to help shape its specification and participate directly in building the web.

Some prefer to sprint in their socks.

Many of the participants here in Amsterdam have also attended one or both of the other European doc sprints. Rodney RehmVivienne van Velzen, and Francesco Iovine, veterans of the Berlin and Zurich doc sprints, made a mountain of edits to the CSS properties and HTML attributes documentation.

Is it time for cake yet?

We also signed up several new members, one of whom, Tom Schuller won the raffle prize, a Chromebook provided by Google.

Show up at a doc sprint, win free stuff!

The local luminaries also graced us with not only an appearance, they chipped in on the CSS properties and worked on developing automated compatibility information for WPD. Peter-Paul Koch of Quirksmode fame, Ronald Mansveld, and Niels Leenheer of HTML5Test are working with Doug Schepers of the W3C to aggregate compatibility information from across the web and display it on Web Platform Docs.

The Syndics revisited. This time, it’s the fabric of the web.

Okay, one last cheesy mashup featuring the work of Dutch masters of the Golden Age, just to tie up the analogy above, and hopefully put an end to all the silliness of the last three blog posts:

The real Syndics did show up, but left abruptly when we told them the Linen API wasn’t standards-track. [The Syndics of the Drapers' Guild, by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, courtesy of the Rijksmuseum.]

So, even if we couldn’t finish the cake, we certainly took a big bite out of the work on Web Platform Docs. As this post goes to press, the CSS properties are being finished and the last loose ends of that project are getting tied up. We look forward to developing a new JavaScript reference and over-hauling our HTML elements and attributes in up-coming doc sprints. We hope you’ll join us!

WPW: a maker’s manifesto, revised

Last night, the HTML5 meetup in Sacramento, California, invited Rebecca Hauck, Larry McLister, and myself to talk about Test the Web Forward and WebPlatform.org. We met up at the Hacker Lab, where there is also a maker’s lab. So while we were talking about the Open Web, there was a laser-cutting workshop going on in the back. By now, the relationship between the rise of the maker’s movement and hackerspaces has been codified in Wikipedia. But the Sacramento Hacker Lab summaries it nicely on their meetup page: “Hacker Lab is a collaborative workspace and organization of hackers, makers, and entrepreneurs. We foster technology through community education and mentorship. Together we are building a startup community and innovative ecosystem! Join us! BUILD CODE UNITE!”

BUILD CODE UNITE! I don’t know where that manifesto came from, but sign me up! Whether you were wandering around Silicon Valley electronic surplus stores in the 70s or have recently encountered NodeBots, you know how addictive it can be to gather up components and create something of your own. And that’s what hackers/makers/creatives are doing every day. And open web designers and developers are definitely part of this movement.

Of course, I’d like to insert a little edit into that manifesto: BUILD CODE DOC UNITE!

We need to document what we’re doing: we need to build and code the web, but also, communicate, introspect, customize, and improve the web. So, please join us. Help us build this site. Share some of your coding best practices. Write an article about a topic you know and love. Edit a reference page so it is clearer to that genius child who is tinkering with — or inventing — the next web technology.

That genius child just may need a quick reminder about the latest layout properties, which is where our focus is right now. To help with the CSS properties project, visit the Web Platform Wednesdays page. Go through the Web Platform Wednesday past reports and choose one that hasn’t been completed. Coordinators are ready to help you help others, so hop on to the #webplatform IRC Channel or sign up for the mailing list. Let us know you’re ready to join the movement!

Web Platform Wednesday, Week 17: Something For Everyone!

Last week saw our fondue pot of left over properties go down well as we started recapping, with the help of the Switzerland Doc Sprint.

This week, we thought we would ease into our next Web Platform Wednesday as everyone starts to get back into the swing of things. As we start to revise all the hard work that everyone has put into the previous weeks, getting all the CSS properties documented, we thought we would continue to work on and cover any and all properties that may have been missed along the way. This can range from working with layout and grid properties to putting your typographer’s hat on and immersing into the world of CSS text properties.

No matter what your strength is, or the extent of your knowledge, this week’s Web Platform Wednesday has a little something for everyone. If you are still not sure if there is something for you, then head on over to the #webplatform IRC channel and chat with this great community or even send us an email on our mailing list as there will always be someone happy to help.

From everyone on the Web Platform team, happy documenting the web.

Switzerland Doc Sprint sets some new records!

The first ever Swiss Web Platform Doc Sprint is a wrap! Pure stat hunters might have liked to see more attendees: 15 out of 31 registrants attending resulted in a 52% no-show, which is pretty unusual for Switzerland; this was probably due to the current holiday season as well as the pouring rain. But hey, this is clearly about quality not quantity, so let’s talk more about the longest traveller to the sprint: Francesco, who came in from Rome, Italy. Or how about probably the youngest ever Doc Sprint attendee, Samarth (age 13), who made the script tag shine on Web Platform Docs!

Chris Mills from Mozilla presented a guide to using the Wiki, making edits, and what work we aimed to achieve. The fifteen very motivated and skilled contributors were a fairly even mix of Web Platform veterans and newcomers, and jumped head-first in to a variety of tasks ranging from bug investigation to example coding and doc writing.

We’d like to say a special thanks to Mike West (Google) and contributor Rodney Rehm (who already attended the Berlin Doc Sprint) — they helped attendees with 1:1 support on various questions over the day. Next, let’s give a big shout-out to our lovely venue sponsors Colab Zurich, who provided delicious catering for the full day, and to Adobe, who made the event possible by providing everything throughout the day.

Logo of Web Platform Doc SprintWe can report the following work stats:

David Maciejewski from t3n Magazine attended, and, in addition to contributing edits to the site, wrote a nice (german) review about the sprint and its motives, encouraging the community to organize similar events.

A huge thank you to all attendees of this Doc Sprint!

Web Platform Wednesday, Week 10: Animation & Masking

This week’s Web Platform Wednesday has a theme that every CSS geek will find exciting and many have been waiting for: Animations and Masking!

CSS Animations need no introductions for many of you. They are a pretty stable feature that allows designers to create anything ranging from simple transitions or incredibly complex animation effects, bringing websites into the 4th dimension.

CSS Masking is much newer and has less browser support, but it’s not any less exciting: It will allow authors to crop any CSS element in any possible shape, defined through images. Until now we could only do that in SVG, but CSS Masking will bring this to the world of HTML content as well, opening up a wide range of possibilities. Since CSS Masking is new, there is not much documentation material around it. So, if you help with those properties, you will be one of the first few people documenting this. If you like exploring new territory, this is for you!

Don’t worry if you don’t have much time in your hands, you don’t need to write an entire page to help. You can help to complete subsections of a page, such as Basic facts, Explanatory text, Examples or Links and get credit for the sections you helped on. Also, you don’t need to be an expert on these features to help: You can study them and document them at the same time, effectively helping both yourself and others learn more about them.

To view a full list of all properties we will be covering this week, head over to the WPW page, pick one or more properties you find interesting and want to help with and contact the coordinators through the #webplatform IRC Channel or email on the mailing list to ensure you won’t be doing duplicate work. There is always someone willing to help, so feel free to contact us if you have any questions, problems, feedback or just want to say hi!

A huge thank you to everyone who will contribute or has contributed in a previous WPW! WebPlatform.org could not even aspire to be great without this amazing community!

Web Platform Doc Sprint
August 28th 2013, Zurich, Switzerland!

Followers of the WebPlatform.org effort will remember that we ran our groundbreaking first European Web Platform Doc Sprint on February 8-9 in Berlin, Germany. This went down well, and a lot of good work was done on the CSS property and API documentation. The latest good news is that we are running another Doc Sprint — this time in Zurich, Switzerland, on August 28th!

Our new Doc Sprint is being run to coincide with Switzerland’s premier front end developer conference, Frontend Conference Zurich, which happens in the two days after the sprint. Use this as a great opportunity to attend a great conference, and make a great contribution to front end web documentation, all in one trip!

Aims of the Doc Sprint

Logo of Web Platform Doc Sprint

Doc Sprints are great places to have a great and geeky time, make new
friends, and meet old ones. At this event:

  • Beginners will learn how to get started as WebPlatform.org contributors
  • Those more experienced can dive in and make great uninterrupted progress on content
  • Great new ideas will form and grow through collaboration, including demos, plugins and more
  • Bugs will get fixed on the spot
  • Food and drinks (including but not limited to: beer) will be provided throughout the day
  • Swag will be tossed into the crowds
  • Winners will be crowned and prizes raffled away
  • A lot of fun is waiting for attendees!

The main focus topics at this event will be CSS properties and HTML elements/DOM, but if you would rather work on something else inside the WebPlatform.org documentation remit, we are more than happy to accommodate you! If you want to check up on what is ok to work on and suggest ideas, please tell us via the public mailing list.

Doc Sprint Venue and Sponsors

This Doc Sprint is organized by Adobe and being held at the awesome Colab Zurich, who are hosting the event as a sponsor and contributor to WebPlatform.org. Find full address details and directions on their website at http://colab-zurich.ch.

Sign me up!

Please sign up for the event at our Eventbrite page. We are looking forward seeing you in late August in Switzerland!

Web Platform Wednesday, Week 9: Layout

Last week we decided to take a small break to give everyone a rest and let you enjoy the holidays, so this week we are coming back in full force to tackle the next batch of CSS properties. This week, we will be focusing on layout based properties, which are fundamentally the foundation properties of all websites.

These properties that we will be covering, range from padding and size to positioning properties such as top, left, right, bottom and float. If you aren’t too familiar with these properties, here are some great reference materials on some of the CSS properties.

Position

Padding

Float

To view all the properties that we will be covering this week, head on over to the Web Platform Wednesday page and see where you can help. If you find any properties that you want to help contribute to, have any questions or even not sure, come and chat with the co-ordinators in the #webplatform IRC Channel or via email on the mailing list, as there is always someone who will be happy to help.

Until next week, happy documenting!