The Web Standards Project » Training Working together for standards Fri, 01 Mar 2013 18:30:30 +0000 en hourly 1 Beyond the Blue Beanie? Wed, 30 Nov 2011 15:53:17 +0000 Stephanie (Sullivan) Rewis You put on your blue beanie every year. But you can make a difference throughout the year.

blue beanie for web standardsFor several years, web workers passionate about web standards have donned blue beanies for one day to bring attention to the importance of using web standards, keeping the web open, and continually moving it forward. We dutifully change our avatars on social media sites and the pictures on our web sites for a single unified day—this year on November 30. Of course this bewilders high school, college, and other non-tech friends on sites like Facebook, but we disregard their confusion in our eagerness to advocate the advancement of something we believe in. The following day, we return to our typical avatars and photos, all while making plans for a funnier, more creative blue beanie avatar for the next year.

What if there is more?

What if wearing that cute little blue toque was only the beginning of a continual journey?

  • But I’m just a single developer…
  • I don’t have an organization behind me…
  • The company I work for doesn’t really care…
  • I can’t really effect anything, why bother…
  • I already work 60 hours a week—I can’t fit anything else in…
  • I don’t really have any original ideas…
  • Other developers know so much more than me…

These are just a few of the excuses that play in our heads when we contemplate doing more than putting on the beanie once a year. Today I’m happy to announce a new project, put together by a group of very passionate web folks, that can enable your entry into the process of moving the web forward—no matter what skill level you’re currently at—Move the Web Forward.

From the site:

Our goal is to make it easy for anyone to get started contributing to the platform, whether that’s learning more about how it works, teaching others, or writing specs. The web has grown due to people like you, and we want to make it even easier for people like you to give back.

The web page is packed full of a generous range of ideas, from how to learn, and how to help other people learn, to how to hack the web and contribute to specs. There are few excuses left when the ideas are well organized allowing you to pick and choose what you, or your organization can handle. I’m impressed with the generosity of time and effort this group of devs have contributed to put this amazing resource together. Don’t miss it — Move the Web Forward!

You can make the web as awesome as you want it to be. Browser vendors, standards editors and library creators actively seek your voice and your contribution. Together we can move the web forward.

Also check out Addy Osmani’s article on Smashing Magazine with more details on just how you can help move the web forward.

As the saying goes, many hands make light work. How fantastic would it be if there were so many hands that the burden didn’t fall on just a few? Together, let’s make the web rawk even harder!

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A New Direction and a New Project Tue, 02 Feb 2010 17:08:12 +0000 agustafson A lot of you are probably wondering where the WaSP of the late ’90s or even the early ’00s has gone. Where are the actions? Where is the advocacy? Who should we be mad at today?

The truth is that this organization is evolving. For the last two years, a large amount of our focus has been placed on education, realized in our creation of the InterAct curriculum framework and the birth of the Open Web Education Alliance. With the lion’s share of our talent and energy devoted to these efforts, things have been noticeably quiet on this blog, but that’s not an excuse…we can and should be doing more to promote the understanding and use of web standards. After all that’s what we were formed to do.

For the last two or three years, WaSP’s relevance has definitely diminished. With a few exceptions, browsers are doing a darn good job of promoting standards. Techniques we championed, such as Unobtrusive JavaScript and Progressive Enhancement, have become engrained in the methodology of many great web agencies and in-house web teams. In many ways, it seems WaSP has won the war for web standards, but has it really? There are still a ton of small web companies and small to mid-sized businesses building websites with little or no regard for cross-browser /cross-device compatibility. Inaccessible sites and applications, especially in this age of Ajax, seem to pop up every few seconds.

These projects have been put together by web designers and developers we’ve never reached and, for the last few years, we’ve been trying to figure out how to change that. Sure, our education effort is a logical means of teaching the next generation of web designers and developers to do things the Right Way™, but what of the practicing professionals who either have not been exposed to web standards or have been reluctant to upgrade their skill set? How do we reach them?

One way we hope to move this group in the right direction is by doing an end-run around them in reaching out to small businesses.

Small businesses drive our national economies and are responsible for millions of websites worldwide. Of course, most small businesses don’t know (or even want to know) about the technical aspects of web standards, but they do want to know what will save them money and help them run their businesses more efficiently.

As the first project in our small business outreach effort, WaSP will be developing a resource to be used when interviewing individuals and teams to do web work. The focus of this effort will be a series of questions that, when asked of applicants, will help a small business determine whether or not they have the skills necessary to build a modern website. Each question be coupled with background on the associated topic that outlines why it is important and tips for determining how well the question was answered.

Our goals for this project are two-fold:

  1. To support small businesses by protecting them from bad developers and making sure they get the best websites possible; and
  2. To expose individual designers and small web shops to web standards when they go out to bid on projects in hopes that they will choose to upgrading their skills in order to continue getting work.

In order to make this project a success, we need your help. Whether you are interested in helping us collect and organize the content or are keen to promote the resource once it’s complete, we want you to be involved. If you can lend a hand, please say so in a comment on this message and I will be in touch at the beginning of next week.

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The Dawn of the Education Era Mon, 16 Mar 2009 20:27:03 +0000 feather It is with great pleasure that we unveil the WaSP InterAct Curriculum, an initiative that aims to unite industry, educators, and practitioners with one common goal: to improve the quality of education that the next generation of web professionals have available to them. Combining best practices in web design and development with best practices in education and human resources, we have assembled a group of passionate leaders that care deeply about education and that want to ensure that regardless of who you are, or where you’re learning about building the web — on your own, in an education institution or even on the job — you learn best practices and have the skills that your employers want and need.

I was priveleged to see a glimpse of this in action at Web Directions North and saw the Shared Passion that was demonstrated by everyone there, and this initiative is nothing less than thrilling. We at WaSP hope that you’re as excited about this as we are.

Please join me in openly congratulating our team members of the WaSP Education Task Force that were so instrumental in planning and executing this unmatched resource: Aarron Walter, Steph Troeth, Leslie Jensen-Inman. There are many more contributors to this project, but without these three, this simply wouldn’t have happened. The three of you are inspirational to us all and give us a taste of what can be accomplished.

It doesn’t end there, though. The web evolves. Web Standards evolve. And so will this resource. If you have a passion for education and making a difference, we’d love to have you involved.

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Shared Passion Mon, 16 Feb 2009 03:49:43 +0000 feather Something magical happens when you put a group of people that have a shared passion in the same room together. We’re not just talking “excitement” here, either. We’re talking passion — the kind that keeps the fire in the belly burning; the kind that brings people together from far away lands and unites them in a way that instantly seems like they’ve been friends forever.

This was the feeling in Denver at the education-focus day “Ed Directions North” (held in conjunction with Web Directions North). The day included teachers from high schools, from colleges and universities and from industry. The premise was simple: bring together educators, web professionals and industry representatives to create a kind of think tank on improving the quality of education for the next generation of web professionals.

I say “we” but really I mean to say that there were a few key people that were involved in putting this together:

The tireless work of these people, especially Steph, Aarron and Chris with the hands-on work, and John for his support of the concept and the event combined with the work of Leslie Jensen-Inman and Bill Cullifer for their “Web Professional Education Summit” made for an excellent event with a focus on education like we haven’t seen before.

I was asked to share my expertise in accessibility (and teaching accessibility), others were there to share other specialties: Dave Shea, Mike ™ Smith, and Christian Heilmann (though I ended up delivering Christian’s slides on JavaScript as he got stuck in London with flight delays)

The bottom line? This was one of the most exciting events I’ve participated in. It was more than just a pre-conference. It was a group of people with a shared passion for education. It was enough to give me goosebumps, and others tell me they got an incredible buzz from it as well. This sounds incredibly corny to write, but on that day, we came away feeling like we really could make the world a better place. We had new friends, allies and conviction to improve the curriculum and teaching and learning materials for tomorrow’s web designers and developers.

This passion is what you’ll see when you come see the WaSP panel at SXSW and learn of the work that we’re doing on the education front. This passion is what you’ll see as we create our direction forward as the Web Standards Project. This passion is what you’ll see as WaSP implements a vision of improving and continuing education about web standards and accessibility best practices. I hope you share the passion that we do.

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Call-to-action: Save the UT Accessibility Institute Fri, 29 Aug 2008 21:27:43 +0000 jcraig The University of Texas is closing its Accessibility Institute today. Non-profit Knowbility has started a petition to save it.

Though you may not have heard of the Accessibility Institute, you have been influenced by its work. Its late founder, Dr. John Slatin, was the former co-chair of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG2), and was an influential mentor to many of the web standards evangelists, including myself and current WaSP group manager, Glenda Sims. If you’ve ever attended SXSW, you know Austin has one of the most vibrant web accessibility communities in the world, thanks to the hard work of Knowbility and the University of Texas Accessibility Institute. The knowledge shared by these groups has influenced web and software developers worldwide, resulting in a more accessible web used and enjoyed by all of us, disabled or not.

The importance of accessibility research and development was echoed this week by retailer Target’s decision to settle its web accessibility discrimination lawsuit by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). The story was covered in many US and international news outlets, and the the outcome of the case is a timely wake up call to the business world that good design is accessible, universal design.

The Accessibility Institute’s influence for the greater good cannot be overstated. The decision to close it on the eve of the universal design revolution is a poor choice by the UT Administration. If you agree, please sign the petition to keep accessibility research and development alive and well.

Update: This post has been translated into Polish.

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W3C Offers Online Training Course: Mobile Best Practices Sun, 04 May 2008 17:43:34 +0000 hmkoltz The W3C Mobile Web Initiative is offering the online training course: An Introduction to W3C's Mobile Web Best Practices from May 26 - June 20, 2008. The course is free, registration is open, but limited.

This course is aimed at experienced Web developers and designers who are interested in learning to develop content for mobile Web access using W3C’s Mobile Web Best Practices.

Participants will have access to lectures and assignments providing
hands-on practical experience with using W3C’s mobile Web
Best Practices. They will have direct access to W3C experts
on this topic who are the instructors for this course. Participants will also
be able to discuss and share experiences with their
who are faced with the challenges of mobile Web design.

For more information about the course, instructors, topics, and to view a free sample course, visit Online Training Course: An Introduction to W3C’s Mobile Web Best Practices

Thanks also go to Henny Swan for posting an entry about this on her site at Want to Get Your Content Mobile.

Update: Registration is full and now closed.

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Showing Off My <body> and Loving It Tue, 08 Apr 2008 03:40:41 +0000 cschmitt Naked Day? Now you have my full attention]]> The third CSS Naked Day will be held on Wednesday, April 9. This annual event is intended to promote the POSH portion of the Web Standards trinity by having designers and developers remove all CSS from a Web site — thereby stripping it of its design and thus underscoring the concept of separation of presentation and content.

To get involved, just delete or comment any references to CSS on your Web site during Wednesday.

Exhibitionists can even advertise their page’s nakedness on the official event site. Also included on the site is a PHP function to automatically remove CSS references from your site for the big day.

Why won’t WaSP get naked?

The Web Standards Project Web site gets a lot of traffic each day from curious folks who are new to Web Standards and may not yet understand concepts like POSH and progressive enhancement. We want them to see a styled site on each and every visit so they can witness these practices in action. And as one might suspect, it’s hard to teach with your drawers showing, much less off your <body>.

That said, many popular Web developer tools (including the Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar and the Web Developer Toolbar for Firefox/Flock and Seamonkey) give a user the ability to easily disable CSS, thus rendering the same unstyled experience whenever you want and not just on one day.

So, please give these tools a try to see how WaSP structures its sting and be sure to enjoy CSS Naked Day this Wednesday.

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Street Team: Make Your Mark Sat, 08 Mar 2008 18:06:28 +0000 goodwitch Warning! This Book Could Be Hazardous to the Web!

How many outdated web design and development books are lurking in your local library, school or college, waiting to corrupt an innocent mind? Want to warn the unsuspecting of these hazardous materials while encouraging librarians to update their shelves? Join the WaSP Street Team by downloading and printing copies of these bookmarks (PDF 3.4MB). Then place these bookmarks in harmfully outdated books. We’d love to see the bookmarks in action and hear what you have been up to – upload your photos to Flickr and add them to the WaSP Street Team Bookmarks group, tag any photos or blog posts with waspstreetteam.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, will be to track down and identify dangerously outdated web resources and expose them as the misleading charlatans they truly are.

Common Crimes Against the Web:

  • Using table layout (rather than CSS layout)
  • Abusing (X)HTML markup (rather than using semantic markup)
  • Building inaccessible sites (rather than insuring that all content and functionality are available to people with disabilities)
  • Creating pages that only work in non-standards compliant browsers (rather than coding to web standards then hacking back for deviant browsers)

Caution: As much as these books need to be removed from public circulation and replaced with good books, you should never attempt to harm or destroy outdated books. Please treat these inaccurate tomes as ancient museum relics. Remember, that in addition to providing free access to knowledge, libraries are charged with maintaining history. All we are trying to accomplish here is to move these relics over to the outdated archives, you know, next to the “world is flat” and “pluto is a planet” sections. So, what are you waiting for? Go make your mark! Leave a comment on the Street Team website

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Notable web experts who are [x]: Women and non-Caucasians Sun, 25 Feb 2007 14:59:17 +0000 bhenick [To those who are advocates of politically correct language, I apologize in advance for the blunt way in which I frame the role of race in this post.]

Between Jason Kottke and WaSP founder Jeffrey Zeldman, the buzz is building yet again on the subject of conference panel composition… specifically, the fact that most participants are white men.

This is a standards issue, too. For reasons of culture and temperament, people who aren’t white men bring something to the theory and practice of Recommendation track technologies that would otherwise be totally absent from the evolution of those technologies. While those voices are present to a degree, it seems likely they are present to a much smaller proportion than their counterparts n the web user population as a whole.

While it’s difficult to prove the consequences of this under-representation, I offer a simple exercise: how would a well known standard, say CSS, behave if more women had participated in its formulation?

In any case, there’s no doubt in my mind that women and non-whites are under-represented in the larger public dialogue about web technologies because they are under-represented in the population of web professionals.

Do you agree with my assertion? If so, why do you believe it’s true? If you identify as a member of a group I’ve labeled here as under-represented, what obstacles or disincentives have you faced when attempting to raise your profile as a web expert? What stops you from successfully encouraging women and non-whites to pursue their vocations on the web?

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Video Presentation: Douglas Crockford on the “Theory of the DOM” Wed, 18 Oct 2006 21:09:23 +0000 cheilmann Douglas Crockford, discoverer of JSON and JavaScript evangelist/veteran has given a training on the theory of the DOM lately and the videos are available on the web.

The course takes you through the theory of the DOM, how browsers implement it and what the problems with the DOM and the implementations are.

Each are half an hour long, and – having been in the training myself – I must say they taught me more about JavaScript and the DOM than a lot of books and hours of researching why something just didn’t work.

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