The Web Standards Project » WaSP Announcement Working together for standards Fri, 01 Mar 2013 18:30:30 +0000 en hourly 1 Our Work Here is Done Fri, 01 Mar 2013 14:20:11 +0000 agustafson When The Web Standards Project (WaSP) formed in 1998, the web was the battleground in an ever-escalating war between two browser makers—Netscape and Microsoft—who were each taking turns “advancing” HTML to the point of collapse. You see, in an effort to one-up each other, the two browsers introduced new elements and new ways of manipulating web documents; this escalated to the point where their respective 4.0 versions were largely incompatible.

Realizing that this fragmentation would inevitably drive up the cost of building websites and ran the risk of denying users access to content and services they needed, Glenn Davis, George Olsen, and Jeffrey Zeldman co-founded WaSP and rallied an amazing group of web designers and developers to help them push back. The WaSP’s primary goal was getting browser makers to support the standards set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

In 2001, with the browser wars largely over, WaSP began to shift its focus. While some members continued to work with browser vendors on improving their standards support, others began working closely with software makers like Macromedia to improve the quality of code being authored in tools such as Dreamweaver. And others began the hard slog of educating web designers and developers about the importance of using web standards, culminating in the creation of WaSP InterAct, a web curriculum framework which is now overseen by the W3C.

Thanks to the hard work of countless WaSP members and supporters (like you), Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of the web as an open, accessible, and universal community is largely the reality. While there is still work to be done, the sting of the WaSP is no longer necessary. And so it is time for us to close down The Web Standards Project.

Many (if not all) of us are continuing to work in the world of web standards, but our work is now largely outside the umbrella of WaSP. If you are interested in continuing to work on web standards-related projects along with us, we humbly suggest you follow these projects:

  • A List Apart – The magazine “for people who make websites” is run by WaSP founder Jeffrey Zeldman and is a consistent source of forward-thinking articles and tutorials.
  • HTML5 Doctor – A solid resource and discussion forum on all things HTML5, brought to you by Bruce Lawson and his team.
  • W3C Community Groups – If you have a passion for a specific web technology, you can help make it better by participating in one (or more) community groups. In particular, you might be interested in one of these: Core Mobile Web Platform, Responsive Images, Web Education, and Web Media Text Tracks.
  • – A fantastic web standards resource, providing up-to-date documentation, Q&As, tutorials & more. Chris Mills, Doug Schepers, and a number of other standards advocates are involved in this project.
  • Web Standards Sherpa – An educational resource founded by WaSP which continues to operate under the leadership of Chris Casciano, Virginia DeBolt, Aaron Gustafson, and Emily Lewis.
  • Web Standards + Small Business – An outreach project started by WaSP that educates small businesses about why they should care about web standards. This project is overseen by Aaron Gustafson.

The job’s not over, but instead of being the work of a small activist group, it’s a job for tens of thousands of developers who care about ensuring that the web remains a free, open, interoperable, and accessible competitor to native apps and closed eco-systems. It’s your job now, and we look forward to working with you, and wish you much success.

Nota bene: In the near future, we will be making a permanent, static archive of and some of our other resources like WaSP Interact to preserve them as a resource and to provide a record of our 15-year mission to improve the web.
Bruce Lawson and Steph Troeth contributed to this post.

]]> 89
The Sherpas are Here Sun, 13 Mar 2011 16:49:51 +0000 agustafson Today, I am very proud to announce the launch of our newest endeavor: Web Standard Sherpa. This project has been the better part of a year in the making and we’re really excited to see it finally launch.

Web Standards Sherpa came about because we wanted to create a repository of best practices information while, at the same time, providing mentorship opportunities for practicing web professionals. With those goals in mind, we began to throw around ideas of what that could look like and we realized a pseudo-critique site could fit that bill perfectly. We say “pseudo” because the reviews we’ll be posting on Web Standards Sherpa are not traditional critiques, but rather focused reviews of a particular aspect of a site.

The elevator pitch on the site sets it up well:

Web Standards Sherpa’s experts provide helpful, pragmatic and up-to-date advice on best practices for web professionals everywhere.

In terms of format, our plan is to bring on amazing authors for a period of 3-6 months or more at a time, with new articles coming out weekly. We’ve kicked things off with pieces by Erin Kissane, Jared Spool, and yours truly; Dan Rubin and Derek Featherstone are on deck for the next two issues.

In order to get the ball rolling, we’ve chosen a handful of sites to look at, but our goal is to have users submit their own work to get honest feedback. We’re not looking to tear down your work, but we are looking to help everyone get better at their job. If you’re struggling with your navigation, for instance, you could submit your site and ask for our thoughts. If you’re unsure your approach to scripting a particular widget is the most efficient or are concerned about its accessibility, you should submit that too. We see Web Standards Sherpa as a way to let you glean advice from some of the smartest folks in the industry and provide you with the opportunity to learn from real world examples of what people are doing right and where there is room for improvement.

We hope you’ll help us out by “feeding Shirley” (our mountain goat mascot) and submit your sites for review.

]]> 2
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.

]]> 42
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.

]]> 11
EduTF Report Highlights Curriculum Project Fri, 16 May 2008 15:41:16 +0000 hmkoltz The WaSP Education Task Force (EduTF) report updates our activity, announces new members, and offers a report on a Web standards based Curriculum Project.

In the past year, the EduTF has been quieter than previous years. We have gone through a few changes, though our mission remains the same.

The WaSP Education Task Force was created in 2005 to work directly with institutions of higher education to help raise awareness of Web standards and accessibility among instructors, administrators, and Web development teams.

Our mission is not a small one. Our work and message needs to reach beyond our reading audience and the Web standards community in order to get information, help, and resources to more people. EduTF is discussing and looking at a variety of ways in which we can help.

To help with our mission, EduTF has added new members, including: Aarron Walter, Gareth Rushgrove, Lars Gunther, Jeffrey Brown, Kathy Keller, Christopher Schmitt, and Virginia DeBolt. Each member has experience with education and a strong passion for improving education in the area of Web standards and technologies.

One task the EduTF has been working on is the publication of the EduTF Survey results. We are reviewing the final draft of the publication and hope to share this information very soon.

The survey results have been very helpful in highlighting key needs, challenges and issues within the educational community and these will be addressed by the EduTF and also through our Curriculum Project.

The Curriculum Project will be a resource that could be used by those in education, as well as, anyone needing to update knowledge on Web related technologies.

Aarron Walter is leading our Curriculum Project and has this informative report to share:

The quality of Web design and development education in our schools is perhaps the most significant barrier preventing the world-wide adoption of Web standards. The EduTF has been hard at work this year developing a curriculum to address this issue. Our goal is to create a curriculum that is modular allowing courses to be selectively integrated into existing programs that need updating, or adopted entirely to serve as the foundation for new Web design and development programs in colleges, universities, and high schools around the world.

This is a big project. We’ve sought guidance from talented educators already teaching standards, and top industry professionals who have helped us identify the tools and topics each course should include. The EduTF is teaming up with Chris Mills of Opera who is leading an initiative to create a broad series of detailed articles that teach basic principles of front end development. These articles will be integrated into a number of courses to provide educators and students with practical references and a solid foundation in Web standards.

The curriculum will be released in stages, the first of which will include a core set of courses that address foundation topics such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, accessibility, information architecture, usability, and the history of the Web. In subsequent releases, courses will be added that address more advanced topics, and specific tools popular in the industry.

Each course will contain a collection of tools for educators including:

  • A course overview
  • Recommended course dependencies indicating what students will need to know before beginning each course
  • Learning competencies describing what students must master in order to receive a passing grade
  • Assignment recommendations and test questions that allow educators to measure a student’s mastery of each competency
  • Recommended readings from Chris Mills’ article series on Web standards and other reputable sources

We hope to release the curriculum in March of 2009 in an online format that will make it easy for educators to access and contribute back to the project. We view it as a living system which will be greatly enhanced by community contributions.

It’s a very big undertaking, but one that we believe could make a significant impact not only on the quality of Web design and development education offered in our schools, but also on the adoption rate of Web standards. If you’re an educator with pedagogical materials or ideas to share, please join the mailing list and our IRC channel to become part of the conversation. We welcome your support and inputs as we proceed with the development of the WaSP Web standards curriculum.

]]> 12
Announcing the Adobe Task Force Mon, 10 Mar 2008 17:27:58 +0000 Stephanie (Sullivan) Rewis The Web Standards Project Dreamweaver Task Force was created in 2001 to accomplish two tasks: to work with Macromedia (later Adobe) to improve the standards compliance and accessibility of Web pages produced with Dreamweaver and to communicate effectively within the online Dreamweaver community. Having successfully completed its initial goals, WaSP announces that the Dreamweaver Task Force will be renamed the Adobe Task Force to reflect a widened scope. The Adobe Task Force will collaborate with Adobe on all of the company’s products that output code or content to the Web, and will continue to advocate compliance with Web Standards and accessibility guidelines by those who use Adobe’s products to design and build Web sites and applications. Read the press release to learn more.

]]> 16
Acid3: Putting Browser Makers on Notice, Again. Mon, 03 Mar 2008 10:00:17 +0000 drewm It’s been three years since we told browser makes that we want to see them smile, but now we wanna hold their hand.

Acid3 goes beyond the CSS tests implemented by Acid2 and tests a browser’s DOM Scripting capability, as well as continuing to probe visual rendering of CSS, SVG and webfonts. Further information can be found on the Acid3 page, in the press release, or you can just go ahead and take the test.

We know that work is already underway based on the Acid3 previews, but time will tell which browser is the first to pass all 100 tests fully, and with default settings. This is going to be interesting.

]]> 34
DOM Scripting: A Web Standard Wed, 20 Feb 2008 22:26:03 +0000 adactio Following @media 2005 — the first Web Standards conference in Europe — a group of front-end coders gathered in a pub in London to discuss JavaScript. JavaScript had a problem. Its reputation was tarnished, to say the least. The common perception of client-side scripting was frozen in the late ’90s era of browser-specific DHTML. Most people thought it unusable and inaccessible. In truth, the Document Object Model had better cross-browser support than CSS. This misperception needed to be addressed and the gang of geeks gathered on the banks of the Thames were just the bunch to tackle it. That’s how the DOM Scripting Task Force was born.

Steve Balmer once said “Developers! Developers! Developers!” Tony Blair once said “Education! Education! Education!” Put the two together and you’ve got the very straightforward raison d’etre for the task force: to educate developers about the mature state of JavaScript and the DOM. DOM Scripting was the missing piece of the Web Standards puzzle: markup for structure, Cascading Style Sheets for presentation and DOM Scripting for behaviour… provided it was implemented with thought and care.

The Web Standards Project was started because browser makers didn’t implement the DOM as a web standard consistently. The DOM Scripting Task Force formed much later to encourage browser makers and developers to manipulate web sites with JavaScript in a meaningful and standards-oriented way — scripting the DOM.

Fast forward to today. JavaScript has come a long way. I wish the DOM Scripting Task Force could take the credit but the real impetus came from the rise of Ajax. The Web has changed in many ways as a result of that scripting technology: some good, some bad. But one unmistakable consequence has been the recognition of JavaScript as a powerful tool for web development.In fact, the technology is in such demand that the members of the DOM Scripting task force have barely had time to devote to furthering its cause. Another change in the market has been the rise and wide adoption of libraries that offer easier access to the HTML content and fix browser implementation bugs of the DOM standard for you.

There is no further need for a task force to promote DOM Scripting. Don’t get me wrong: there’s still plenty of work to be done in the realm of client-side scripting. But it no longer makes sense to treat DOM Scripting as something separate to Web Standards. JavaScript — or, more accurately, ECMAScript — is now an accepted part of the front-end stack along with with (X)HTML and CSS. Rather than keeping discussion of the DOM sequestered in a task force, it will now take place alongside its fellow Web Standards.

The task force has had a good run: my sincerest thanks go out to my fellow task force members. There’s plenty of more work ahead of us. At the same time as we bid farewell to the DOM Scripting Task Force, we greet DOM Scripting as one of the core technologies championed by the Web Standards Project.

]]> 7
Hug your bike, drink a beer and discuss a browser Tue, 05 Feb 2008 22:33:33 +0000 faruk March is coming up and for most people in the web standards community, that means at least one thing: SXSW! The Web Standards Project will be present again this year, with our annual meeting (held on Monday the 10th, exact details to follow soon).

Because there’s so much going on in the world wide web today (IE8, HTML5), this year we’re doing an additional event in association with Bike Hugger: the Bike Hugger Beer & BBQ. It’s open to all SXSW interactive attendees, with free beer, free food and free (?) WaSP members present to discuss the state of the browser landscape.

This will be similar to the WaSP Cafés which, by the by, have been held in Tokyo, France and Spain over the last year, with 2008′s first WaSP Café (held in Paris) having a grand total of 70 people attending!

The core topic for the WaSP discussion will be the IE8 versioning proposal, which clearly has been a hot topic since the very moment it was announced on A List Apart. All the WaSPs that will be at SXSW will be present, so we hope to see you there as well!

The Bike Hugger BBQ event runs from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm on Saturday, March 8 and will be held at Brush Square Park, North Tent (across from the Austin Convention Center).

Polish translation by Sebastian Snopek

]]> 7
Opting-in to standards support Tue, 22 Jan 2008 14:21:26 +0000 agustafson A List Apart, I was (finally) able to reveal Microsoft's new strategy for forward-compatibility, a strategy that was developed hand-in-hand with several of us here at WaSP.]]> When IE7 came out, sites broke. Folks throughout the web community posited many reasons why, but none mentioned the fact that all standards-enabled rendering engines are triggered by an assumption we affectionately call the “DOCTYPE switch.” I’ll truck out a dusty old cliché here: “when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.”

So what does that have to do with the DOCTYPE switch? Well, the DOCTYPE switch assumes that if you are using a valid DOCTYPE for a “modern” language (e.g. HTML 4), you know what you’re doing and want the browser to render in standards mode.

That assumption could have worked out all right, had it not been for authoring tool makers who—with the best intentions and under pressure from us (the web standards community and WaSP, in particular)—decided to include valid DOCTYPEs in new documents by default, thereby crippling the DOCTYPE switch because it wasn’t an explicit opt-in. Now add to that the fact that IE6 had the lion’s share of the browser market for so long—thereby becoming the primary browser in which many developers tested their work—and you have a recipe for disaster: developers assumed (there’s that word again) the layout they were getting in IE6 was accurate, not realizing they had been opted-in to accept rendering engine upgrades as the browser evolved (all of which was reinforced by the 5 years of stasis in terms of IE6′s rendering).

So along comes IE7 with it’s tuned-up rendering engine and, well, it caused sites to broke.

Not wanting to see that happen again, Microsoft approached us (WaSP) to help them find a better way of enabling standards support through an explicit opt-in. You can read more about the thought process we went through in my article on A List Apart. The issue also features a commentary piece by WaSP alum Eric Meyer (who was not involved in the development of the solution, but was asked for feedback on our work) that takes you on the mental journey he took in reaction to our recommendation. The series for ALA—on what we are calling “browser version targeting”—will wrap in two weeks with a piece by Peter Paul Koch—who, like me, was involved in the development of this technique—that will cover application of the browser targeting mechanism in IE8 and beyond.

This buzz has been translated into Polish.

]]> 9