Jeffrey Zeldman: 20 Years of Web Design and Community

This is a wonderful film everyone should watch, especially young people just starting out making web sites who have not lived through the last 20+ years with Jeffrey as their spirit guide.

The film is one of a documentary series from Lynda.com.Thank you to lynda.com for making this one available in its full length free.

There are many other fascinating documentaries on creative topics at lynda.com/vimeo. You must be a paying member of lynda.com to watch them. If you are, I especially recommend that you also watch Creative Insights: Lauren Bacon on Web Design.

The Web Standards Project Closes: “Our Work Here is Done”

With little ceremony other than an announcement written by Bruce Lawson and Steph Troeth on the Web Standards Project blog, the volunteer army of people who worked to bring web standards into common use have ceased their organizational work.

I want to quote the entire announcement. I know you can go to the WaSP blog and read it, but it seems like something of an homage to the important work done by so many dedicated designers and developers for the past 14 years to reprint it below. And I’m  proud of my small part of the work as a member of the education task force and the development of a web standards based curriculum.

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.
  • WebPlatform.org – 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.

Congratulations and a big thank you to everyone who gave time and talent to the Web Standards Project. WaSP changed the world.

Move the Web Forward

Yesterday on Blue Beanie Day, Stephanie Sullivan Rewis announced a new web project on the blog at web standards project. Her post was called Beyond the Blue Beanie.

Today I’m happy to announce a new project, put together by a group of very passionate web folks, that can enable your entry into the process of moving the web forward—no matter what skill level you’re currently at—Move the Web Forward.

The purpose of the new Move the Web Forward site is to help people give back to the web community. Here’s their objective:

Whether you’re a talented web developer, web-slinging since the days of tables and font tags, or you’re a hobbyist hacker, there are a number ways for you to give back. Below, we list some of the ways that anyone can contribute back to the web platform.

Our goal is to make it easy for anyone to get started contributing to the platform, whether that’s learning more about how it works, teaching others, or writing specs. The web has grown due to people like you, and we want to make it even easier for people like you to give back.

There are a multitude of ideas there for how you can level up, dig deeper, or contribute as a guru. No matter what your level of expertise, it’s possible to get involved.

See Also: Smashing Magazine’s The Smashing Guide to Moving the Web Forward.

Defining front end engineering

Nate Koechle from Yahoo! talks about what front end engineers actually do. Don’t start it unless you have plenty of time to watch, it’s nearly an hour and a half long. But it’s worth it, especially if you are teaching HTML, CSS, JavaScript, web development, or any related class.

The reason I’m hoping you’ll take the time to watch this video is because it so clearly states, from an industry perspective, why the WaSP InterAct curriculum project is so important and what it’s actually about. Industry needs graduates who know what Nate is talking about when they are fresh out of school. InterAct means to help you achieve that goal in your own curriculum.

I found this at Yahoo! Video, where you can find links to other talks by Nate Koechley. Nate is an excellent lecturer, well organized, clear, with well presented material. A lesson can be learned  by educators just from watching how he moves through the long talk and keeps you with him. And, the talk is an outline of what curriculum needs to be.

Useful Links: Online Lectures, CSS3 modules, the canvas element, menu possibilities, Boagworld

100 Free Online Lectures that will make you a better teacher is from Best Universities, which is amassing some intresting link resources such as this one on its blog.

Four new W3C modules for CSS3 are in the proposal stage and would support the canvas element. Links to each module are availble here, at CSS3.info.

Speaking of the canvas element, Laura Carlson put together some Use Case examples on the ESW Wiki. If you have a browser other than Internet Explorer, you can take a look at some of the possible uses of the canvas element.

Project Seven is testing a new menu system which is very exciting in terms of the design possibilities it may open up.

Boagworld interviewed Aarron Walter this week. Paul gave Aarron a chance to talk about how the WaSP InterAct came into being, where it’s going next and what it means.

How Educators Can Get the Most from WaSP InterAct

Educators, this one’s for you. The WaSP InterAct Curriculum Framework is now available. The curriculum is for high school, community college and universtity level teaching of  Web Design and Development. The focus is on using best practices and web standards to create students trained and capable in the skills most needed by industry.

The eleven completed courses (with more to come) that comprise the initial release are grouped into learning tracks.

  • foundations
  • front-end dev
  • design
  • user science
  • server-side dev
  • professional practice

The eleven currently available courses are:

  • Internet Fundamentals
  • Web Design 1
  • Web Design  2
  • Accessibility
  • DOM Scripting 1
  • Findability
  • Digital Design Production
  • Information Architecture 1
  • Internship
  • Professional Practice
  • Independent Study

If that list does not contain a course you need or currently teach, there are ways to help WaSP develop future courses. First download a PDF of the framework to see the entire range of courses planned. You can help with the courses still in the planning stage in several ways. You can contribute

However, the best way to help with this curriculum is to TEACH WITH IT.

Teach With It

The framework is ready for education and ready for teachers. The courses are modular. That means you can cherry-pick parts and add them into your current classes to see how they work and fit. Or you can choose to take an entire course and use it from start to finish in a semester. Read the Integration Guide to get a comprehensive set of ideas on using the curriculum.

The framework is ready for education and ready for teachers. It contains competencies that can be measured. Exam questions for assessing the competencies are provided. Assignments are provided that address the competencies, with grading rubrics  to help with evaluation.

The framework is ready for education and ready for teachers. Books and resources are listed for core assignments, exploration, online assignments, and external reading assignments. Lab and discussion assignments are suggested. Student blogging assignments are provided. Other outstanding curriculum materials such as the Opera Web Standards Curriculum materials are integrated with the InterAct courses.

Why?

The WaSP InterAct curriculum emphasizes best practices and web standards. Why? The InterAct site says,

Web standards are technologies that are free to use, and work the same, regardless of device or platform. Provided you build a website using web standards and best practices, it will be usable by anyone, regardless of their location, the device they are surfing the Web with, and any disabilities they may have.

Standards for HTML, CSS, JavaScript and the other languages that make up the fabric of the Web are critical for its continued growth and success.

Give students a strong grounding in web standards based education and they are ready for the demands of industry, better equipped to find a job in a fast-changing environment, and prepared to step into a job without any additional training from an employer. This last point is a big one with industry, because many companies spend large amounts of time and money training college graduates to do the things they should have learned in college.

Look at the testimonials in support of the WaSP InterAct Curriculum Framework. The people with the jobs to offer your students are stepping up and saying, “We want to hire people with the skills they get from this curriculum.”

Let others know

If you use the materials in the curriculum, let others know. Let the WaSP people know, and offer feedback on the problems and successes you found with the curriculum. It’s a living, changeable framework and your input matters. If you write about your experiences with the curriculum, make sure the WaSP InterAct team knows about it so they can take what you are saying into account.

Let others know who might be interested in teaching with the materials so that the curriculum is adopted in more and more classrooms.

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Education leads the latest issue of A List Apart

Two of the important members of the WaSP Education Task force who have been hard at work on the WaSP Curriculum Framework (WCF) were featured in this week’s issue of A List Apart.

Brighter Horizons for Web Education is by the WaSP Edu TF head Aarron Walter.

If you’ve interviewed candidates for positions in the web industry, you’ve probably heard firsthand the heartbreaking stories of recent graduates who are woefully unprepared to enter the workforce. When this happens, we usually respond by cursing the school that miseducated the applicant and return to our work, only to relive the experience with every new round of interviews.

No industry can sustain itself if it doesn’t master the art of cultivating new talent—an art that requires close ties between practitioners and educators. Passively watching education struggle to bridge the divide only contributes to the problem.

. . .

In our ongoing fight to establish wide adoption of standards in our profession, those of us involved in The Web Standards Project have begun trying to tackle the education issue. Industry experts and veteran educators on the WaSP Education Task Force are currently working to develop the WaSP Curriculum Framework (WCF), a modular curriculum that can be used to improve existing curricula or serve as the foundation for emerging programs.

Aarron also describes similar programs from Opera, the Information Architecture Institute, IxDA, and Web Directions North.

Elevate Web Design at the University Level by Leslie Jensen-Inman.

About a year ago, I embarked on a journey to discover where we are in web education and where we need to go.

I interviewed thirty-two web design and development leaders. Each of them expressed interest in the formal education of the next generation of web professionals. Most emphasized a challenge common to higher education: technology moves too fast for curriculum to keep up with it.

. . .

I understand these frustrations. We’re not preparing students and that has a lot to do with the educational bureaucracy and institutions. However, educators should have help shouldering the burden. In partnership, web educators and web professionals can be pioneers for change.

Leslie mentions a number of ways web professionals, businesses, and educators can work together for change.