Posts tagged "Web Platform Docs"

Adobe Supports OpenStand

On March 9th, at the Open Future  reception at SXSW, Adobe announced support for the OpenStand  initiative. Our rationale for this was simple – OpenStand is good for the Web, good for users, and good for Adobe. It increases innovation, openness, and allows greater participation in evolving the Internet.

The Internet is built on standards. These standards come from all sorts of organizations – some formal and supported by governments, some less formal and created by industry associations, and some driven by users who believe in collective action. OpenStand takes a simple position on these organizations – if the organization is open, transparent, balanced, has due process in creation, and has broad consensus – then the organization and its specifications are legitimate.

The approach advocated by OpenStand seems to be intuitively obvious; good technical standards which are accepted and implemented by the industry should be judged not on their origin, but rather on their utility to the industry. A poor standard with a “proper background and backing” is still a poor standard.

The Internet is ubiquitous – from mobile phones to tablets to desktops – all form factors, all types of information, design, and literally “everything”.  It is a golden age for creative display and use of information – all driven by innovation, which then is “standardized” so users can access it and interoperate with complementary services.

Adobe has contributed significantly and will continue to contribute to efforts to document and test these innovative activities in conjunction with W3C with the Web Platform Docs (WPD) project and Test the Web Forward.   We have also (along with Microsoft and Google), supported the HTML5 editor as this standard moves to completion and we are also active in WebKit specs, as well as in formal metadata standards. All of these venues are important – and all build the ability of the market to innovate, grow, and change. And that’s what OpenStand is all about, which is why Adobe has chosen to support it.

Carl Cargill
Principal Scientist

W3C Web Platforms Docs: A Standards Perspective

Recently, Adobe, along with many others in the community, initiated a major community effort to build a common suite of developer-oriented documentation of the Open Web Platform as a community effort sponsored by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) .

One of the problems with standards is that generally, they are meant more for implementors and less for users of the standards (often by design). Those who actually write the standards and work on the committees that create them know that they are fragile interface descriptions – and this fragility is what requires the care in their crafting.

Standards specifications are necessarily quite detailed, in order to really promote interoperability and ensure things work the same. And this is where things get sticky. The implementations are based on the standard or the specification, and all standards (well, nearly all) are written in native language by people who are usually specialists in technology, as are many people who implement the developer-oriented documentation.

What’s exciting here is that the Web Platform Docs (WPD) effort is really targeted at the user community to help document the standards in a way that is useful to that community.

But a standard really only gains value when it is implemented and widely deployed. And this is why the WPD is so innovative. WPD is about use and deployment of the standard. It has tutorials on how to use a feature; it has examples of uses. This is the kind of material that the W3C working group does not have time to create, but values. It is what the vendors provide to get their implementations used.

The importance of the site, from a standards point of view, is that it helps build an informed user base. Not at all a simple task.

The Web is evolving – and in its evolution, it is forcing others to change as well. Ten years ago, this type of common activity, open to all (for both contributions and information) would have been if not unthinkable, at least foreign. With this announcement, the contributors and the W3C have (hopefully) begun to change the way standards are seen – to an easier and kinder environment.  And this is a good thing.

For an Adobe developer’s view, see: What’s one of the biggest things missing from the Web?