Test the Web Forward
There was a time, long, long ago, when writing a standard was a simpler, more
angelic process than it is now. If you had a good idea, you could just write
it up succinctly, send it to a mailing list, and if people liked it it would get
added to a specification with a few tweaks — and then ship. In those days, large
handwaving features roamed free across the Web's tundra, grazing peaceably from
host to host.
I for one recall fondly those sleepless nights of passion when as a fledgling
Web developer I would tweak the innards of a page to make that table cell just
the right shade of chartreuse green.
But that came at a cost. The time you spend tweaking a basic feature to make it
work everywhere is time you can't spend with friends and family, exploring the
deeper meaning of life, finally writing that action movie adapted from Descartes'
"Meditationes de Prima Philosophia", or, you know, hacking on yet something
Today, far more care goes into writing stricter specifications. But that alone is
not enough: the way to properly ensure interoperability is to write test suites.
Years ago, W3C had a QA Activity that
produced a lot of excellent work that is still the foundation of much of what we do
today. But in those times there was still too little interest in testing, and it
eventually had to be shut down for lack of participation.
Thankfully, interest in testing has done nothing but grow in more recent times,
and we can dedicate resources to testing again. One project that we in W3C are
particularly fond of is Test The Web
Forward. Part of the larger Move The Web
Forward initiative — a grassroots movement true to Web form — it endeavours to
get developers “more involved in contributing to the web platform [they] help define”.
More specifically, TestTWF is running events that are part-conference, part-hackathon, in
which Web experts from Adobe, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, and W3C are
at your disposal to help you write tests for W3C specifications.
Why would you want to attend? First, you'll learn a lot about Web technology, from
some of the best experts that can be found. By expanding the number of tests and becoming
a contributor, you're making the Web a better place. That's obviously good for karma,
but it's also great for yourself a few months down the line when you'll be spared tearing
your hair out thanks to a test you wrote. Overall, such improvements to the Open Web
Platform are ripe with virtuous circles: by making the platform more interoperable you're
not just helping yourself down the line, but you're also helping countless others, some of
whom will use that saved time to craft awesome libraries you might use, write informative
blog posts you might read, or simply contribute more tests themselves.
So Test The Web Forward is a great occasion to come be a hero and help save the Web from its
That's why W3C is proud to sponsor TestTWF, why we'll attend and help, and why we
encourage all developers who can to join! There's a session in
Beijing on Oct 20-21,
and another in Paris
on Oct 26-27. I'll be at the latter myself — I look forward to hacking on some tests with