Documenting the webplatform(.org)

About a year ago, a small group – including people of W3C, Opera, Microsoft, Mozilla, Google and others – started talking about a new documentation project for information covering open web standards. Yes, there are lots of documentation sites already available, but some of them are low quality, out-of-date, or both. Some have great information about some subjects, but not others. And generally it takes web developers a lot of time to find all the information they want. It would be great for all the information providers to get together and produce one authoritative resource to tell web guys all the information they need to know to do their job!

The idea was very warmly received by all parties involved, and so we all started solving problems together, working out an infrastructure for the project that would scale well and handle lots of different contributors, working out marketing and business plans, and putting together a large list of content from different resources – such as HTML5 rocks, MSDN, MDN and Opera’s web standards curriculum – that would act nicely as seed content to get the project started. Ideally, we wanted this to be an ever-evolving project controlled and written by the community, rather than a bunch of big name vendors telling everyone what to do. As the founding companies, we just wanted to act as guides, as custodians, empowering the community to document their web as effectively as possible!

It was hard work leading up to initial launch of the project, especially as we wanted to get enough done on the content and site styling to ensure that it would look unfinished but not embarrassing, and therefore attractive for other contributors to come on board. On October 8th, we launched Webplatform.org on the world, and got a really marvellous response, with loads of people jumping on the project to help out.

I think we’ve been fairly successful. The site looks cool, the IRC and Q&A are active and breeding healthy conversation, the blog has articles in the works, and more importantly, the Web Platform Docs Wiki is online with close to 3000 articles of reference and tutorial content already published, covering HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SVG and more, and a whole host of contributors helping to hammer the articles into shape.

And it doesn’t stop there! One we’ve got the existing content in better shape, our community will be adding more and more as we forge ahead. We’ll be adding resources for teachers wanting to teach web standards-related subjects. We’ll be adding live sandboxes to run and edit code examples. And much more! Please come and look around, and tell us how you’d like your webplatform to be improved! Hell, write some code to add the features you want.

It is October 2012, and life is looking good. As days grow shorter, the webplatform.org team can at least afford to take a breath before we make our next move, safe in the knowledge that we have at least taken cursory steps to unleashing the future of open web documentation upon the world. But there is still much to do, and we need all the help we can get! To learn more, hop on over to Web Platform Docs, sign up for a free account using the “Login / create account” link at the top, and then read our “Getting Started” guide to find out what needs doing, and how to do it.

Published by Chris Mills

Open standards evangelist and dev.opera.com editor, Opera Software Co-chair, web education community group, W3C Author of "Practical CSS3: Develop and Design"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>