2nd Doc Sprint in Amsterdam!

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Last year we made a grave mistake when we scheduled the doc sprint in Amsterdam to follow the Fronteers conference. As Scott Rowe mentioned in his blog post, Amsterdam is a great city. Well, it seems that most people found the city a little too great (that is, partied a bit too hard during and after the Fronteers conference) to make it to the doc sprint. And we don’t blame you!

So for this year, the party starts at the Doc Sprint! The day before the Fronteers Conference, the 8th of October, when everybody is still full of energy, Indivirtual will host a fantastic day of pushing the web forward, meeting new people, and learning even more than you already know about the web! Come collaborate with us on ideas and problems and help build a better Web Platform with the best technical documentation for the web community.

Register Here

Join us the day before Fronteers

Will you be in Amsterdam for the Fronteers conference? Will you be visiting the city for work? Do you live here? Will you be in Amsterdam on holiday? If you can answer yes to any of these and want to meet-up with fellow front-end developers, join us for the second Amsterdam Web Platform Doc Sprint (#WPDS). The sprint will take place right inside the main office of Endemol, in the GTST-room, 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central Station. There will be experts from the Web Platform Stewards (Jake Archibald, Martin Beeby and Mathias Bynens) as well as the community (Rodney Rehm, Christian Schaefer and me, Paul Verbeek) that provide introductory talks and ideas on what to work on.

You can choose to write documentation, add some examples or best practices, fix typos or organize information better, or just hang out with us and leave an excellent impression of yourself.

Is this interesting for me, regardless of whether I’m a beginner or expert?

Yes! Whether you are new to the web or a pro; whether or not you are already a member of the web platform community; if you haven’t used WPD at all; heck, even if you don’t know what WPD is; you’ll find use in attending. The doc sprint is valuable for everybody.

  • If you’re new to the web community or new to Web Platform Docs, we’ll help you get started contributing to the documentation. This is a great way to learn about web development and meet other web professionals.
  • If you’re an old pro on the web but new to Web Platform Docs, you’ll easily get up to speed and start contributing your expertise to the benefit of the whole community. Maybe you can add knowledge about edge cases. Perhaps you want to see some robust samples for your area of interest.
  • If you’re coming to Amsterdam for the Fronteers conference, drop by the doc sprint for a few hours or the whole day and start your networking a little early.
  • If you’re already a member of WebPlatform.org, just jump right in and start contributing. And, please come help people new to the project
  • We’ll have specific areas of content for you to work on, and if you have other content that you want to contribute or other projects that you want to work on, you’re certainly welcome to do that, too.
  • Did I mention that we’re giving things away?

Free lunch, giveaways and drinks – all day

We will provide comfy seating, power, WiFi, a plan what to work on and of course we will feed you over the day. There will also be swag and a bunch of great raffle prizes provided by the Web Platform Stewards!

Fronteers Jam Session to finish the day

We’ll stop at 19:00 and take the train back to Amsterdam Central. From there everybody can go and grab a bite to eat and go straight to the Fronteers Jam Session, to finish the day with beer and lightning talks!

See you at the Doc Sprint!

*Paul Verbeek

Fluent 2014 Doc Sprint (& You’re invited too!)

A group of us working on WebPlatform Docs will be hosting a Doc Sprint at Fluent 2014, in San Francisco, on March 11th! O’Reilly has generously provided the facilities and experts through the Fluent conference, but the doc sprint is open to the general public.

We receive content from various sources: companies, individual contributors, standards groups, and more. When we get the content, we review it, improve it, and add “that little something more.” For example, right now, we’re concentrating on JavaScript language reference content. A doc sprint is a period of concentrated effort by a number of people to improve that content, or really, any part of the site that you’d like to work on. It’s like a hackathon for documentation.

No experience is necessary! At a doc sprint, beginners can learn how to get started. We have some basic tasks that anyone can do with support. And we’ll be there to support all contributors. Folks with more experience can make great progress on deeper tasks. We’ll all collaborate on the site: extending it and building the content, itself. Bugs get fixed on the spot. We do usability testing. We eat and drink and… Well, doc sprints are great places to geek out, make new friends, and meet old ones. To get a sense of past doc sprints, check out our previous posts.

Just go to Eventbrite to sign up. We look forward to seeing you there!

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

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!

The 1st European Doc Sprint is Feb 8+9 in Berlin!

People all over the web are contributing great ideas and tools, and the momentum for viable, open, global web standards is growing every day. Unfortunately disparate, inconsistent, and outdated information still needs to be collected and perfected in one place we all can rely on.

WebPlatform.org is an idea that is coming into being through corporate sponsors, open web stewards, and — most importantly — individuals who are taking charge and creating a workspace for quality documentation. Everyday people volunteer their ideas and their time and build great content in a single place. But we still have a lot to do.

Logo of Web Platform Doc Sprint

One way we get folks inspired is through our Doc Sprints. These concentrated days of documentation work allow people to get started, really get stuck in, and make rapid progress. They also provide direct face-to-face contact between community members who previously only chatted online. Doc Sprints are places with lots of great ideas flying around. Bugs get addressed on the spot. Mini projects spring up and get prototyped and utilized right away. But mostly, it’s a time to gather together individuals who care about the web to work towards common goals.

So without further ado … it is a privilege to announce that the very first European Doc Sprint is taking place, in Berlin, on February 8-9, hosted by Adobe.

The main focus will be on improving WebPlatform.org content, but in addition we also want to put weight on encouraging web community managers to run their own Doc Sprints. If you are a web community manager and would like to organize a Web Platform Doc Sprint of your own, we would love you to join us in Berlin so we can give you the information you need to get started! Make sure you select the appropriate ticket category on registration so we can have your special Doc Sprint Starter Kit prepared for you.

Join us in Berlin. And if you can’t be there in person, please join us on the Freenode IRC channel #webplatform. We are looking forward to seeing you at the first ever European Doc Sprint!

Agenda, more information and registration:
http://web-platform-doc-sprint-berlin.eventbrite.com

Doc Sprint Mountain View

A splendid time was had by all! On Wednesday, December 12th we gathered at Google in Mountain View, California to work on Web Platform Docs. We had over 35 attendees who worked on the site for a whole day. Google provided snacks, beverages, lunch, and a wine/beer reception afterward with live music. There was, of course, the usual t-shirts, and other cool swag – see below.

Premium Web Platform Doc Sprint Swag

Many of the attendees were new to Web Platform Docs – we registered 15 new users. So we spent some time early on walking them through the site and the Getting Started pages. Once they got going, they caught on pretty quickly. Having a group of folks doing a small task across a broad area really makes a big improvement. This is the power of a doc sprint, turning what would be a tedious and daunting chore into something doable; having company makes it fun and many hands make light work.

Matthew and Tony

We also had several people who just knew how to pick up a shovel and start digging. Many of these folks follow this forum, the e-mail list, the IRC channel, and other forums; they and you are lending your expertise where it really matters. One area of expertise you may have that we can really use is in the domain of user testing, heuristics, and user experience design. These docs sprints provide a perfect laboratory – albeit without the one-way glass. If you’ve been behind the glass, you probably would prefer the chummy doc sprint to that sterile, Observer effect-infected environment. The data is bound to be better, too.

As it is, we have only a limited amount of data from this doc sprint, and none of it scientifically sanitized. Here’s what we got:

  • Attendees: 35+
  • Commits: 375 (apprx.)
  • New WPD members onboarded: 15
  • Pictures: see: G+ event and Meetup.

Dilip, Dickson, Scott Eliot, and Ming Ming

Search

  • Renato developed a Web Platform Search Companion search extension to Chrome. Install this extension from the Chrome Web Store. Just type “wpd”+space on your Chrome omnibox (that box where you type URLs) and the extension will be activated. Then, type whatever – a CSS property, for example, and you will get direct URLs to the corresponding webplatform.org pages.
  • Dan implemented a MediaWiki search extension, helping to resolve bug 19401. This, too, provides pop-up results, but in the Search field on the wiki page.

New articles

Other Updates

Impressions

Lacking any methodology whatsoever, and while at the same time juggling three questions at once – I know, you’ve been there, too – I gathered the following impressions from the session.

  • Most of the attendees were familiar with web development concepts and technologies
  • Some attendees were exploring web development for career opportunities
  • Some attendees were attending the doc sprint looking for business opportunities
  • Some attendees were here to help build the barn – pure generosity (yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus)
  • Many people had trouble reading the Getting Started documentation
  • Most people were forgiving of the site’s usability shortcomings (like the infamous session ID loss).

And on. I have more, and I’m sure you do, too. Point is, we need to set out to prove or disprove some of this stuff and develop some metrics around our community, how much they know, why they’re in this, how well our documentation reads and works, how well our user interface performs.

Next steps

Part of our doc sprint methodology should include appointing someone (or some many) to gather user feedback – go around asking pointed questions, challenging participants to solve specific problems, just like one of those highly-paid consultants in there with the (bribed) user test subject in the room with the big mirror that everyone tries to pretend isn’t there. This person should be dedicated to that task, gathering user feedback only, and to reporting the findings – not like this blog post, but much better. We could develop a standard questionnaire, assign points to ranges, the whole nine yards. The goal is to figure out how well our site works for contributors, and we don’t need to be too data-centric to accomplish that, but if we could chart our progress against changes, that would be a bonus.

With each doc sprint we do, we’re getting better at running these, and @peterlubbers is developing a “Doc Sprint in a Box” that captures some best practices and provides tools to make it easier for any of our members to start a doc sprint. We welcome any pointers from attendees and others running doc sprints as well. We need to keep having an active conversation about how to best use our doc sprints to develop the site and its content.

Thanks to everyone for their dedication and contributions!

—Scott Rowe

Web Platform Doc Sprints off to a Good Start

On Saturday, November 3rd we held the first ever Web Platform Doc Sprint* at Adobe in San Francisco. It was a joint effort by Adobe, the San Francisco HTML5 User Group, and Google. We had a great and very productive day and onboarded 34 brand new members. The majority of the 50-60 attendees stayed the whole day, from 9 am until after 5 pm) and, from reading through the logs, I see that we made over 800 changes to the site that day. We had people working on tasks that ranged from simple to very complex. Some folks spent the whole day writing in-depth documentation while others dove into backend architecture tasks or created new prototypes of possible new site features. 

SFHTML5 Web Platform Doc Sprint at Adobe

A huge thanks to Adobe for not only hosting the event, but also providing breakfast, lunch, dinner, a full bar, and awesome swag (the exclusive WPD notepads)! Everybody went home with a new WPD t-shirt as well (they came in just in time). Good times all around. Pictures of the event can be found on the SFHTML5 event page.

So now it’s time to keep the momentum going! The next WebPlatform Doc Sprint is already planned for December 12th at Google office in Mountain View. Scott Rowe and I are organizing that one and we will have some really cool, exclusive swag items. You can sign up at http://goo.gl/iBkiu. We hope you’ll join us.

* A doc sprint is a period of concentrated effort by a number of people to improve documentation.