Adobe Systems Incorporated

The Web, Documented

Every great software platform needs some essential ingredients: one or more programming languages, great tools such as editors, compilers and debuggers, frameworks and libraries that make things easier, an enthusiastic community that help each other out and good documentation that helps get the most of the platform. The web platform is probably the biggest, fastest growing and most ubiquitous platform in the (short) history of computing. And while it has many of these essential elements, there is one that was still lacking: official documentation.

Think about what you do when you have a question about HTML, CSS or JavaScript. There are probably a few sites you trust, a few printed books you keep close at hand, if you’re old-fashioned, but more times than not you just search what’s out there and see what comes up. It could be a well maintained, up to date, credible source, or it could be articles or blog posts that are out of date or just plain wrong.

And the web platform is not static! The browsers keep evolving and implement new functionality, specs keep getting updated, and new specs get proposed and implemented. Best practices evolve as well.

Since there’s no single, definitive resource to go to, there’s no way to know for sure, except through trial and error.

All of that is changing today. The W3C – in collaboration with Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, HP, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nokia, and Opera – is announcing the alpha release of Web Platform Docs, a new web destination that will become the definitive resource for all open web technologies. You can find the W3C press release here. The Web Platform Documentation (WPD) will include:

  • API documentation
  • Information on browser compatibility
  • Examples
  • Status of specifications

And the WPD project will be open and community driven, just like the web. WPD is built on top of MediaWiki, the same engine that powers Wikipedia — which means that anyone can contribute. The initial content is being provided by many of the stewards listed above, but anyone with knowledge, examples, snippets or other relevant information is welcomed and encouraged to contribute.

The stewards have been working incredibly hard on this project for a bit over a year, and I want to congratulate them on the launch today. We are very proud to be participating in this effort. This is the culmination of the effort to build this infrastructure, but in many ways this is also a first step. It is now up to the web community to help create and maintain the most comprehensive and authoritative reference for web technologies. So, go check it out and start contributing. Document the web!

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