All in the <head> – Ponderings and code by Drew McLellan –

Changes Afoot at WaSP

I don’t remember exactly when it was that Jeffrey Zeldman dropped me a line and asked if I’d join the Web Standards Project to help form their first task force. I guess it was some time in 2001 – I’d need to dig a lot of mail out of the archives to find exactly when. Together with Rachel Andrew we formed the Dreamweaver Task Force and began working more closely with Macromedia on improving their product’s support for web standards.

A couple of years later, wanting to get a bit more involved with core activity, I took on the vacant ‘press’ role, wrote some ridiculous press releases, helped launch Browse Happy and eventually found out (almost by accident) that I’d been opted on to the Steering Committee. A year on and I took on the role of Strategy Lead.

This week, along with the wonderful Kimberly Blessing, I took over from Molly and became Group Lead of the Web Standards Project. Yikes. It’s been five years or so, but it feels like it’s all happened rather quickly. No matter.

As a Project, I think we have some work to do. A lot of our activity of late has been behind closed doors and under NDA with one company or another. Let’s not forget that this is critically important work and great things have been achieved. Really seriously fantastic things. But the public-facing stuff is important too. Developer education and awareness is key, and we have a big initiative to launch in the New Year which we hope will create some impact in that area.

Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the web standards war is already won because the blogs we read and other developers we interact with socially are all on the same page as us. The reality is rather different. Brand new, professional sites are still being churned out using tables for layout. Educational institutions across the globe are teaching out-dated techniques, and in some cases only accepting those techniques for credit. Walk into your local bookstore or library and you’ll find a number of their web design titles are still partying like it’s 1999. Accessibility is either a dirty word or a completely unknown issue for many.

We have a way to go, but we’re good at this stuff so it shouldn’t be too hard. The biggest danger is being unaware of the problem.