WPW Week 3: What type of contributor are you?

When I first edited a webplatform.org page, I was very nervous. I have experience (I won’t mention the number of years…) with both technical content and editing. So I expected to come to webplatform.org and dig into the content and change it easily. That wasn’t my experience. Whether it’s because of the MediaWiki markup or the expert eyes on the content or the instability of the site, I’m not sure, but I was intimidated. It didn’t help that just about the first contribution I made (after consulting with a couple of folks) was reversed by someone halfway around the world, in the middle of my night.

I’d consider myself a “Nervous Nelly” as they say. Or after that first experience, I’d call that contributor “Tim Idreget.”*

tim idregret_sm

Yes, that was me: timidly pushing ahead only to regret doing so. But that’s ridiculous. No one cared. I made an edit, someone thought it wasn’t correct and changed it back. Someone just as unfamiliar with the site as I was. Someone who wasn’t privy to our discussion around the table. Someone who was trying to get through the tasks he wanted to do.

But what to do? Change it back to my way? Play tug-o-war? Leave it quietly and walk away? What to do?

Ask Shepazu! And of course, that was the best, because he said – and I’m not quoting here, but something to the effect of – This indicates that one of you doesn’t understand what the other is doing. Send a query and get it cleared up. And I did and it did.

rip enburn_smBut that brings me to another type of contributor. Let’s call him Rip, Rip Enburn. His sense of self proceeds himself. He’s not concerned with the page’s history: who edited this when and exactly what did they do – who cares? He’s on a roll, taking no prisoners, going for speed, and all that. Fortunately, I haven’t come across any of these on webplatform.org. But they’re out there. As an innocent lamb, if some of your content has been ripped to shreds, follow up. Make sure you know why. Get a second opinion. Rip may, in fact, not be right, or have even noticed that he clobbered something – or someone – along the way.

OK, I have to say it. Although they will not be given a stage name, there’s another contributor that is hard to take. It’s the armchair contributor.
armchair contributor_sm

Named after the armchair philosopher, they observe, they postulate, they provide commentary, but they don’t edit the actual page! (There’s an interesting discussion on wikipedia.org about armchair philosophy under the heading “Armchair theorizing.” A more visceral definition can be found in the Urban Dictionary.)

And, to tell you the truth, I’ve been one of these myself. It’s so much easier to lie in wait for someone else to make a contribution, and contribute suggestions on how they contributed. I have been to “community” sites and said “this is really bad” or “just bad,” and even left a comment to that effect. But did I stick around to offer a solution or take it to a resolution?

At any rate, what I want to be – what I want for you to be – is a confident contributor, like Connie Fident. She has a lot of hands, because she can work so creatively and smoothly, always knowing what to contribute, and how, within just the right amount of time.

connie fident_sm

But, really the only way we’re going to get there is to actually edit the pages themselves, and share our experiences and help each other improve, and then edit the pages themselves.

Whatever type of contributor you are, please do join us this week as we continue to improve the Array object and its properties, function and methods. We’ve broken out some of the tasks involved with editing the basic facts. So let us know if that takes off the edge to editing a page. Or let us know what type of contributor you are and how we can improve the experience for you. Don’t be shy, just edit a page and let us know how it went by emailing the public list.

* Persons depicted herein are fictional and do not represent any real persons living or dead, except for Shepazu.

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!

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.

Web Platform Wednesday, Week 16: Left-over Fondue!

Sound the alphorns! This week we salute our friends at the doc sprint in Zurich, Switzerland and anticipate a lot of great work on the CSS properties. If you can’t make it to Zurich, you can at least be with the doc sprinters in spirit as they and you dip into this week’s cheesy (or chocolately) pot of CSS properties.

Indeed there is a veritable Matterhorn of left-over properties that we need to revisit from previous weeks. So, don your crampons, ascend to the Web Platform Wednesday page and pick a route, er, property. Your coordinators, or Peters Taugwalder, will be ready to guide you. And I think I’ve beaten the mountain climbing analogy sufficiently into the pack ice.

You don’t have to be a genius like Albert Einstein (aw, come on, you saw that coming) nor a visionary like Albert Hofmann (not that one, though, I bet), but being a good sport like (wait for it) Roger Federer (for the win!) certainly helps.

If you have any questions or 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 a volunteer who will be happy to help, like (one more for the road) the Red Cross!

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: 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!

Web Platform Wednesday, Week 12: Emphasizing text properties

This week, we’re putting an emphasis on text properties. That’s right: text-emphasis, text-emphasis-color, and text-emphasis-style. We also want to cover some text decoration properties. Learn how to fine-tune your text while contributing to Web Platform Docs.

We’re coming to the end game for this project. We’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure the properties pages are looking good. You may see some slight changes to the pages as you’re editing them. For example, we’re adding an infographic to the top of the page to make it easy for the user to identify the status of a spec. If you notice some of these changes, and you want to provide feedback, please email the public list with your comments.

It’s Summer, we know. But we have one contributor who is working from the beach with the sun, the surf, the kids, the beach balls and Web Platform Docs! You can pick a task, such as Basic facts, Explanatory text, Examples or Links, and do it while you’re taking a break from the sun under that umbrella. Cool off while earning that fire starter badge.

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. Then contact the coordinators through the #webplatform IRC Channel or on the public email 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 tell us what you did on your summer vacation!