standards

A Short History of WaSP and Why Web Standards Matter

In August of 2013, Aaron Gustafson posted to the WaSP blog. He had a bittersweet message for a community that he had helped lead:

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.

If there’s just the slightest hint of wistful regret in Gustafson’s message, it’s because the Web Standards Project changed everything that had become the norm on the web during its 15+ years of service. Through dedication and developer advocacy, they hoisted the web up from a nest of browser incompatibility and meaningless markup to the standardized and feature-rich application platform most of us know today.

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Meet the New Dialog Element

Keith Grant discusses how HTML 5.2 has introduced a peculiar new element: <dialog>. This is an absolutely positioned and horizontally centered modal that appears on top of other content on a page. Keith looks at how to style this new element, the basic opening/closing functionality in JavaScript and, of course, the polyfills that we’ll need to get cross-browser support right.

Also, I had never heard of the ::backdrop pseudo element before. Thankfully the MDN documentation for this pseudo element digs into it a little bit more.

Further working mode changes at WHATWG

The Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) announced that it has adopted a formal governance structure:

The WHATWG has operated successfully since 2004 with no formal governance structure, guided by a strong culture of pragmatism and collaboration. Although this has worked well for driving the web forward, we realized that we could get broader participation by being clear about what rights and responsibilities members of the community have. Concretely, this involves creating an IPR Policy and governance structure.

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Chrome is Not the Standard

Chris Krycho has written an excellent post about how us fickle web developers might sometimes confuse features that land in one browser as being “the future of the web.” However, Chris argues that there’s more than one browser’s vision of the web that we should care about:

No single company gets to dominate the others in terms of setting the agenda for the web. Not Firefox, with its development and advocacy of WebAssembly, dear to my heart though that is. Not Microsoft and the IE/Edge team, with its proposal of the CSS grid spec in 2011, sad though I am that it languished for as long as it did. Not Apple, with its pitch for concurrent JavaScript. And not—however good its developer relations team is—Chrome, with any of the many ideas it’s constantly trying out, including PWAs.

It’s also worth recognizing how these decisions aren’t, in almost any case, unalloyed pushes for “the future of the web.” They reflect business priorities, just like any other technical prioritization.

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