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!

JavaScript reference docs land on WPD

The goals of webplatform.org are bold, its projects large and ambitious. As have many other volunteers before me, I caught a sense of that vision and decided to make it my own while working on a particular ambitious project: documenting JavaScript on Web Platform Docs.

I’m happy to say we’ve just completed a major milestone in documenting JavaScript on WPD. The first part of the project was to take JavaScript reference material donated by Microsoft and reformat and import it into Web Platform Docs, fitting it into templates and forms to make the content match the WPD structure.

I took charge of detailing the structure of the page content, and importing, normalizing, and converting the original HTML into wikitext, while in parallel Eliezer Bernart created the Semantic MediaWiki templates for each page. Eliezer started out knowing nothing about Semantic MediaWiki, but with enthusiasm and skill quickly learned how to build the templates and worked closely with me to create the framework to hold the content in a structured way. This kind of teamwork across nations and continents (Eliezer in Brazil, and me in North Carolina, USA) is what makes a project like this special.

Building a dream, making real what you have envisioned, and materializing ideas ultimately comes down to sharing your dream with people who will build with you, who are willing to take a series of smaller steps as their own. Though the contributors at WPD are divided across various projects, locations, and teams, we work under just enough guidance to aim in the same general direction. Your dream becomes the larger dream, and those smaller steps feel lighter and less difficult to the person fueled by a sense of accomplishment passing milestones of completion towards the building of what they deem good and useful.

Along with this dream came inevitable disagreements, volunteers whose hours don’t always coincide, people who have to go away a few weeks on another project before coming back to help, and other pesky irritations that are really the human backdrop every team has to face. It’s the nature of collaboration.

But this dream also meant making new friends: two people each driving halfway across a state to meet up and discuss the project, working with others who excel in their own area, feeling you are part of something bigger than yourself. Some contributors and colleagues to be called out by name include Doug Schepers, Eliezer Bernart, Eliot Graff, Julee Burdekin, Rick Byers, Rick Waldron, and Renoir Boulanger. I thank each person and am glad to have met you!

What this initial JavaScript import means is integrity and reliability of information, ongoing relevance as that information changes, and designers to improve its usability. Webplatform.org is not just another site, it’s a plan to building resources for a better web. This first phase created an initial corpus. We’ll follow this with additional work to attach additional semantic data, add topic clustering, generate automatic subpage listings, and best of all, enforce cross-checking with and cross-referencing to original ECMAScript standards. Keep checking this blog for announcements about how you can help with all this. Come catch the dream.

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: 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 15: Finishing round one of CSS properties

Ding-ding! This week, we finish up with the first round of editing and adding samples to CSS properties. We’ll need to go back and pick up properties that weren’t completed or were recently added. But this is a great week to pick up a random property and add some quality to it. Position, clip, visibility, and other properties are waiting for basic facts, useful explanations, examples, and links to great articles.

So, 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 are not sure where to start, come and chat with the coordinators in the #webplatform IRC Channel or via email on the mailing list, as there is always someone who will be happy to help.

WebPlatform Wednesday, Week 14: Grids

A lot of folks are vacationing now, far away from gridlock. But wait! Grid layout needs your help!

Up to this point, our main focus was to edit content graciously donated by Microsoft, updating it to match the latest specs, and adding more examples and details. With this week’s properties, we’re mostly starting from scratch. We’ve created the pages, but there’s no content at all. So when you go to contribute, you have a tabula rasa – a blank slate – or should we say a template rasa, because the template is there. You get to fill it in.

As NicdaCosta mentioned in an earlier blog post, these new properties allows developers to create fluid grids without having to resort to older techniques. And here’s a great article to get you started on Grid Layout. Also, make sure to check out a fantastic new editor’s draft on CSS Grid Layout that explains the background and motivation, and provides many enlightening examples.

What’s better than a fresh start and a good reference? Well, maybe a few things, but here at WebPlatform.org, we rank these pretty high.

So, 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 are not sure where to start, come and chat with the coordinators in the #webplatform IRC Channel or via email on the mailing list, as there is always someone who will be happy to help.

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!