Categories
Personal

Position Statement for the 2020 W3C TAG Election

Update: I got elected!! Thank you so much to every W3C member organization who voted for me. 🙏🏼 Now on to making the Web better, alongside fellow TAG members!

Context: I’m running for one of the four open seats in this year’s W3C TAG election. The W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG) is the Working Group that ensures that Web Platform technologies are usable and follow consistent design principles, whether they are created inside or outside W3C. It advocates for the needs of everyone who uses the Web and everyone who works on the Web. If you work for a company that is a W3C Member, please consider encouraging your AC rep to vote for me! My candidate statement follows.

Hi, I’m Lea Verou. Equally at home in Web development, the standards process, and programming language design, I bring a rarely-found cross-disciplinary understanding of the full stack of front-end development. 

I have a thorough and fundamental understanding of all the core technologies of the Web Platform: HTML, CSS, JS, DOM, and SVG. I bring the experience and perspective of having worked as a web designer & developer in the trenches — not in large corporate systems, but on smaller, independent projects for clients, the type of projects that form the majority of the Web. I have started many open source projects, used on millions of websites, large and small. Some of my work has been incorporated in browser dev tools, and some has helped push CSS implementations forwards.

However, unlike most web developers, I am experienced in working within W3C, both as a longtime member of the CSS Working Group, as well as a W3C Staff alumnus. This experience has given me a fuller grasp of Web technology development: not just the authoring side, but also the needs and constraints of implementation teams, the kinds of problems that tend to show up in our work, and the design principles we apply. I understand in practice how the standards process at W3C addresses the problems and weighs up the necessary compromises — from high-level design changes to minute details — to create successful standards for the Web.

I have spent over six years doing PhD research at MIT on the intersection of programming language design and human-computer interaction. My research has been published in top-tier peer-reviewed academic venues.  My strong usability background gives me the ability to identify API design pitfalls early on in the design process.

In addition, I have been teaching web technologies for over a decade, both to professional web developers, through my numerous talks, workshops, and bestselling book, and as an instructor and course co-creator for MIT. This experience helps me to easily identify aspects of API design that can make a technology difficult to learn and conceptualize.

If elected, I will work with the rest of the TAG to:

  • Ensure that web technologies are not only powerful, but also learnable and approachable, with a smooth ease-of-use to complexity curve.
  • Ensure that where possible, commonly needed functionality is available through approachable declarative HTML or CSS syntax and not solely through JS APIs.
  • Work towards making the Web platform more extensible, to allow experienced developers to encapsulate complexity and make it available to novice authors, empowering the latter to create compelling content. Steps have been made in this direction with Web Components and the Houdini specifications, but there are still many gaps that need to be addressed. 
  • Record design principles that are often implicit knowledge in standards groups, passed on but never recorded. Explicit design principles help us keep technologies internally consistent, but also assist library developers who want to design APIs that are consistent with the Web Platform and feel like a natural extension of it. A great start has been made with the initial drafts of the Design Principles document, but there is still a lot to be done.
  • Guide those seeking TAG review, some of whom may be new to the standards process, to improve their specifications. 

Having worn all these hats, I can understand and empathize with the needs of designers and developers, authors and implementers, practitioners and academics, putting me in a unique position to help ensure the Web Platform remains consistent, usable, and inclusive.

I would like to thank Open JS Foundation and Bocoup for graciously funding my TAG-related travel, in the event that I am elected.

Selected endorsements

Tantek Çelik, Mozilla’s AC representative, longtime CSS WG member, and creator of many popular technologies:

I have had the privilege of working with Lea in the CSS Working Group, and in the broader web development community for many years. Lea is an expert in the practical real-world-web technologies of the W3C, how they fit together, has put them into practice, has helped contribute to their evolution, directly in specs and in working groups. She’s also a passionate user & developer advocate, both of which I think are excellent for the TAG.

Source: https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Member/w3c-ac-forum/2021JanMar/0015.html

Florian Rivoal, CSS WG Invited Expert and editor of several specifications, elected W3C AB member, ex-Opera:

Elika Etemad aka fantasai, prolific editor of dozens of W3C specifications, CSS WG member for over 16 years, and elected W3C AB member:

One TPAC long ago, several members of the TAG on a recruiting spree went around asking people to run for the TAG. I personally turned them down for multiple reasons (including that I’m only a very poor substitute for David Baron), but it occurred to me recently that there was a candidate that they do
need: Lea Verou.

Lea is one of those elite developers whose technical expertise ranges across the entire Web platform. She doesn’t just use HTML, CSS, JS, and SVG, she pushes the boundaries of what they’re capable of. Meanwhile her authoring experience spans JS libraries to small site design to CSS+HTML print publications, giving her a personal appreciation of a wide variety of use cases.
Unlike most other developers in her class, however, Lea also brings her experience working within W3C as a longtime member of the CSS Working Group.

I’ve seen firsthand that she is capable of participating at the deep and excruciatingly detailed level that we operate here, and that her attention is not just on the feature at hand but also the system and its usability and coherence as a whole. She knows how the standards process works, how use cases and implementation constraints drive our design decisions, and how participation in the arcane discussions at W3C can make a real difference in the future usability of the Web.

I’m recommending her for the TAG because she’s able to bring a perspective that is needed and frequently missing from our technical discussions which so often revolve around implementers, and because elevating her to TAG would give her both the opportunity and the empowerment to bring that perspective to more of our Web technology development here at W3C and beyond.

Source: https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Member/w3c-ac-forum/2020OctDec/0055.html

Bruce Lawson, Opera alumni, world renowned accessibility expert, speaker, author:

Brian Kardell, AC representative for both Open JS Foundation and Igalia:

The OpenJS Foundation is very pleased to nominate and offer our support for Lea Verou to the W3C TAG. We believe that she brings a fresh perspective, diverse background and several kinds of insight that would be exceptionally useful in the TAG’s work. 

Source: https://www.w3.org/2020/12/07-tag-nominations#lv

Lea Verou is another easy choice for me. Lea brings a really diverse background, set of perspectives and skills to the table. She’s worked for the W3C, she’s a great communicator to developers (this is definitely a great skill in TAG whose outreach is important), she’s worked with small teams, produced a number of popular libraries and helped drive some interesting standards. The OpenJS Foundation was pleased to nominate her, but Frontiers and several others were also supportive. Lea also deserves “high marks”.

Source: https://bkardell.com/blog/TAG-2021.html