I was asked how one contributes to standards. Before anything else, it is worth watching Domenic Denicola’s presentation on making friends and influencing standards bodies. It is awesome and will teach you a great deal.
I think the core thing to understand when considering contributing to web standards is that they are created by communities. Typically there are a few people leading the charge and many people contributing with critique, research, and tests. Usually there is a combination of mailing lists, IRC, and the occasional face-to-face meeting, to keep everyone roughly synchronized.
You want to figure out what community to participate in:
Unfortunately there’s a myriad of other smaller lists for particular APIs. Usually the standard you care about has relevant pointers. If it doesn’t, please file a bug or let someone else know as it definitely should.
Studying the output of the community (the standard and tests) and its ongoing progress (the mailing list) is a good way to get a feel for how things work and what you should pay attention to. It can help to read the WHATWG FAQ too as it documents answers to many common questions. Having familiarized yourself with the material and the environment you should feel more than ready to start participating more actively, in particularly if you see something worthy of improvement.
There appears to be trend where specifications monkey patch a base specification. A monkey patch being a subtle change to an existing algorithm only observable if you have seen both the new and the base specification. Some examples: Custom Elements attempts to redefine the
eval(). (Using dated TR/ URLs here as an exception so these examples remain useful going forward.)
Apparently it is not clear that this is bad design. We should avoid monkey patching (hereafter patching). It has at least these problems:
img element definition it would not be clear for someone reading the adopting algorithm that adopting is actually more involved.
If you encounter patching, please file a bug. If you are writing a specification and temporarily want to patch a base specification to help implementations along, file a bug on the base specification so the community is informed of what you are trying to do.
I love figuring out the web platform and making it better.
I moved to the United Kingdom to work for Mozilla last year and it has been excellent so far. Getting close to a full year now. Since I have listed countries in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, I thought I would do it again:
To be clear, the fundamental aspects of promises remain unchanged. And we should continue using them for all new features that require asynchronous values.
IDNA2003 consists of two important algorithms: ToASCII and ToUnicode. Both operate on a single domain label (i.e. not a whole domain name). To obtain one or more domain labels from a domain name it needs to be split on dots (U+002E, U+3002, U+FF0E, and U+FF61).
Apart from doing a range check and checks for certain code points, ToASCII encompasses two major algorithms: Nameprep and Punycode (see Wikipedia’s Punycode). Nameprep is a specific profile of Stringprep. Stringprep in turn, does a number of things: mapping code points, Unicode normalization (NFKC — “Die, heretic scum!”), check forbidden code points, check proper use of bidirectional code points, and check unassigned code points (although this last one will not happen in browsers).
ToUnicode does the reverse, with the caveat that it cannot fail. If it fails at any point the original input is returned instead.
The URL Standard standardizes on IDNA2003 as that is what the most widely deployed clients implement. It does override one requirement, namely to use the latest version of Unicode rather than Unicode 3.2.
The IDNA section of the URL Standard references IDNA2003’s ToASCII and ToUnicode and makes appropriate requirements around them. The status quo now has better documentation than before. It seems unlikely clients will update to IDNA2008 as it’s not a straightforward replacement (it has nothing equivalent to ToASCII and ToUnicode) and is not backwards compatible.
Last week was the second reformed TAG meeting, this time with new chairs, and hosted by me at Mozilla in London. I felt that overall it went well, though there was quite a bit of repetition too. Getting a shared understanding takes more time than desired. Takeaways:
provider.comwith WebRTC or will it need a dedicated API for the next twenty years?
Also, the W3C TAG is now on GitHub. It took some arguing internally, but this will make us more approachable to the community. We also plan to have a developer meetup of sorts around our meetings (a little more structured than the first one in London) to talk these things through in person. Feel free to drop me a line if something is unclear.
There are a ton of features in the web platform that take a URL. (As the platform is build around URLs, that makes a ton of sense, too.)
@font-face, … The semantics around obtaining a resource from such a URL however are not very well defined. Are redirects followed? What if the server uses HTTP authentication? What if the server returns 700 as status code for the resource? Does a
data URL work? Does
about:blank work? Is the request synchronous? What if I use a
skype URL? Or
mailto? Is CORS used? What value will the
Referer header have? Can I read data from the resource returned (e.g. via the
canvas element)? Can I display it?
For what seems rather trivial, is actually rather complicated.
At the moment Ian Hickson has defined some of this in the HTML Standard. In an algorithm named fetch. Then CORS came about (for sharing cross-origin resources) and the idea was that it would neatly layer on top, but it ended up rather intertwined. And now there is another layer controlling fetching, named CSP. To reduce some of this intertwinedness and simplify defining new features that take a URL, I wrote the Fetch Standard. It supersedes HTML fetch and CORS and should be quite a bit clearer about the actual model as well as fix a number of edge cases.
It is not entirely done, but it is at the point where review would be much appreciated.
At Mozilla we’re trying to bring the web platform closer to what is taken for granted in the “walled gardens” of our time (Apple’s App Store, Google Play, and friends). A big thing we need to solve is offline. As applications, sites should just work without network connectivity. Some variant of “NavigationController” (the name is bad) will give us that, but we need to iterate on it more. And in particular we need to test it to make sure performance is adequate and the API simple enough.
We have an API for end-user notifications, but after the site is closed clicking the notification from the notification center will fail (what should happen?) and if there are multiple browsing contexts with the same site open there is also some ambiguity as to which should receive focus. The permission grant is per-origin, but a single origin can host multiple sites. Push notifications face similar issues. The site is not open, but a push notification for it comes in, where should it be delivered?
The idea we have been toying around with is a worker that could be fired up whenever there is some external event that cannot be directly managed by the site (e.g. when the site is not open). This idea is not new, Google suggested it long ago, but it did not take off. A change from their model would be to not make these workers persistent, but rather short-lived so they are not too wasteful. Part of the application logic would move to the server, and push notifications can be used to wake the worker (we have been using “event worker” as a name) to e.g. notify the user or synchronize state for when the user navigates to the relevant site next.