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.