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  1. The Mozilla Developer Network has a New Face

    Last summer the Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) underwent a massive platform change, moving from a hosted third-party solution to our own custom Django application code-named Kuma. That move laid the ground work for our latest major MDN upgrade: a complete front-end redesign, included many new features as well as usability and accessibility enhancements. Let me provide you with a quick overview of what you can expect to see on the new MDN and what features we’re cooking up for the future!

    New MDN Features

    Increased Commitment to Search

    The majority of MDN users are looking to find documentation the moment they land on the MDN homepage, so we’ve placed search front and center:

    We’ve also added search filters to the mix, allowing users to narrow down search results to their specific needs:

    From a technical perspective, we’ve moved to Elasticsearch for search, allowing us to continue making indexing and filtering improvements, as well as add new search features at will. We anticipate fine-tuning search as we receive feedback so we’ll continue the push to get you to better documentation faster.

    Ease in Navigation

    Getting from document to document was a pain point in the previous design, so we’ve fixed that in two ways. The first was creating Content Zones, a method for creating navigation for a given topic. We’ve started with the most prominent parts of MDN, including App Center, Firefox, Firefox OS, Firefox Marketplace, Add-ons, and Persona:

    Content Zones

    MDN’s new Content Zones provide a complete collection of documentation about a given topic, encompassing the very basics of a topic to API details and advanced techniques. We’ll be kicking off with the following zones:

    Firefox OS

    Highlights of the Firefox OS zone include:

    • A detailed Platform Guide
    • Build and Install details
    • Hacking Firefox OS
    • App Design & Development
    Firefox Marketplace

    Highlights of this zone include:

    • App submission and review
    • App publishing and monetization
    • Marketplace API information
    App Center

    Highlights of the App Center zone include:

    • Quickstart Guide
    • Design and Build tips
    • App publishing guidelines
    • API references
    Persona

    Highlights of the Persona zone include:

    • Guide to using Persona on your site
    • Becoming an identify provider
    • Details on the Persona project
    Firefox

    Highlights of the Firefox zone include:

    • A complete Firefox Add-on overview
    • Information on Firefox internals
    • Detailed instructions for building Firefox and contributing
    Add-ons

    Highlights of the Add-ons zone include:

    • XUL extension information
    • Best practice tips
    • Theming
    • Add-on publishing guidelines

    “See Also” Links

    We’ve also implemented “See Also” links which may appear in any wiki page, linking to documents which may be relevant based on the document you’re currently viewing.

    Both the zone subnavigation and “See Also” link sidebar widgets are built from basic link lists in the wiki document, so adding links and shuffling navigation is easy for anyone looking to contribute to MDN. These link lists can also be built using MDN’s macro language, Kumascript, and our writing team has done a great job automating “See Also” links so that contributors can save on the manual labor of hunting down other relevant documents.

    Top level navigation

    In the top level navigation, you will have access to five distinct areas:

    • The above-mentioned Content Zones
    • Web Platform, including direct links to more information on technologies, references and guides
    • Developer Program – To be able to help developers and establish long-term relationships and channels, we have created the Mozilla Developer Program. We have a lot of plans and ideas for iteratively expanding the Program, and we want you involved as we do so! So, sign up! You will get a membership, be able to subscribe to our newsletter and get access to features over time as we roll them out.
    • Tools – more information on the Firefox Developer Tools and their features
    • Demos, being a direct link to the Demo Studio

    Enhanced Kumascript Macro Features

    Kumascript, MDN’s dynamic macro language, was also outfitted with the ability to read external RSS feeds. At present MDN is using the feed reader capability to pull forum posts from StackOverflow and blog posts from the Mozilla Hacks blog. Check out the MDN:Common macro to view the fetchJSONResource and fetchHTTPResource methods which aid in displaying feed content in wiki documents.

    Future Features

    This visual redesign is just the beginning of our push to make MDN more dynamic and usable. The MDN development and UX teams have plenty more coming in 2014. Here are a few peeks into what you can expect to see!

    Dynamic Search Filtering

    To improve the efficiency in user search, we plan to implement hashtag-prefixed text filtering which may be added in the initial search — doing so will prevent the need for additional filtering when the user lands on the search results page.

    Holly Habstritt Gaal has detailed this query system in detail on her blog. Check out her blog post to see implementation details.

    Docs Navigator

    So you’ve completed a search and you click the first link you thought would be applicable, but you want to move onward and view other results. Instead of backing out to the search results page again, the wiki page (if the user came from search) will display a doc navigator to move to the next or previous result, or you can view the entire list of results from your original search:

    image

    Just another handy way of finding what you need faster!

    Demo Studio and Dev Derby Redesign

    A redesign to the MDN Demo Studio and Dev Derby will be coming shortly. We have an excellent design in review and we hope to roll that out in early 2014.

    If you have a suggestion or find any bugs within the new MDN, please let us know.

    Look forward to more from MDN in 2014 and beyond. The MDN platform promises to expand and improve the way we view, write, and experience documentation and web technologies!

  2. help build the mozilla developer network

    Route 66 by Caveman 92223

    Route 66 by Caveman 92223

    Help us build the Mozilla Developer Network

    Take the survey now.

    At Mozilla we’ve been talking recently about how important the web has become to everything around us. The web – and the Internet it’s built on – has become the defining computing platform for this century. And most of that has happened because of web developers, and the freedom they have enjoyed.

    Firefox is one of the most important tools for web developers. Firebug combined with Firefox’s strong support for standards means that most web developers are building for Firefox first and then porting to other browsers later.

    But even with developers using Firefox for development there hasn’t been an easy way for those of us at the Mozilla project to let you know about what’s going on at Mozilla – what we’re putting in Firefox, what we’re doing to bring the web forward and what we’re doing for web developers. (Although the hacks weblog is the first attempt at that.) And conversely there isn’t an obvious way for individual web developers to give Mozilla structured feedback about what’s important to them or what issues they might be having.

    That’s why we’re working on the Mozilla Developer Network. It will serve two purposes:

    1. To provide you with information about what’s going on at Mozilla and around the web.
    2. To give you the chance to give us structured feedback and become part of the Mozilla Community.

    Our first step is to do a quick survey. If we can get 5,000 responses to the survey, we’ll release the aggregate results.

    The survey itself asks you about how you work, what you think of Firefox and should only take a few minutes to complete.

    Thanks! We’ll have more on the Mozilla Developer Network as things progress.

  3. Hacks v2.0

    As you may have noticed, Hacks looks a bit different today.  That’s because we’ve completely redesigned the site. We wanted to make it easier for everyone to not only enjoy the new content we publish, but also to find past articles and demos. With Firefox 3.6 just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to rediscover Hacks!

    Thanks go out to Chris Howse for his design expertise, Craig Cook and Matt Harris for their development work, and everyone else that helped out.  What a difference a redesign like this can make:

    Hacks v1.0

    Chris Blizzard started the Hacks blog back in June 2009 as part of the “35 days of Firefox” campaign to give developers a look at the latest features and web technology upgrades that were coming in Firefox 3.5.  Since then, we have continued to reach out to web developers and collaborate with them to put together amazing posts.

    With a collection of helpful tutorials, updates on web standards, and technology demos, Hacks has become a popular destination for anyone interested in keeping up with innovation on the web.  We cover a wide range of topics, including everything from new possibilities with HTML5 to the latest version of Firebug. Developers get to see what is possible on the web today, while everyone gets a glimpse of what the future holds for Firefox and the open web.

    Hacks has ignited a renewed focus on web developer outreach and collaboration. In addition to the blog, you can follow us on Twitter, watch videos and demos on YouTube, and even subscribe to the about:hacks newsletter. Our goal is to inform and inspire web developers to help us establish a strong Mozilla Developer Network (MDN).

    We have big plans for MDN in 2010, and Hacks v2.0 is just the beginning!  Enjoy the new website and please share your thoughts and feedback with us…

    Happy New Year!

  4. Dev Derby – a monthly competition of demos using open technologies

    Starting from June, Mozilla runs a monthly competition to showcase newest web technologies. In an international competition individuals can submit demos that show the world just how much is possible using open and free technologies in a modern browser.

    The Mozilla Dev Derby happens every month and revolves around a certain technology. A panel of judges will pick the winners and give out prizes including awesome laptop bags, Android phones and exclusive MDN T-Shirts. Above all, however, you can see your name pimped by Mozilla on here, on the Derby site and we will do short interviews with all the winners.

    Many companies spend a lot of time and effort to create showcase demos to promote their browser, development environment or platform. Whilst this is great we think it makes for a much better learning experience to concentrate on one technology at a time and build smaller, more focused and better documented demos. This is why we want you to be in the driver seat and show us what you can do. There is no better way to learn a new technology than by playing with it.

    The rules of the Mozilla Dev Derby are simple:

    • Your demo must work in a current version of Firefox, Firefox Beta or Firefox Aurora, without requiring plug-ins.
    • You must include all source code, including for any binary components.
    • The description of the entry must be clear and accurate.
    • The demo must be mainly your own work, and must not include unauthorized intellectual property of someone else.
    • The name of your entry must not include any Mozilla trademarks.
    • The entry must use open web technologies, such as HTML, CSS, and standard JavaScript APIs
    • Libraries and modules that are freely available are allowed; proprietary ones are not.

    To start off we chose CSS3 Animations as the first challenge. Use CSS to animate page content and create movie-style intros (remember the AT-AT walker demo?) and show us how designers can animate without the need for plugins or scripting knowledge. NOTE: Firefox 5 will introduce support for CSS3 Animations. You should use the Firefox Beta or Aurora channel for this Dev Derby. Your demo will not work in Firefox 4. ;-)

    So, Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines and head over to the Mozilla Dev Derby site.

  5. web developer survey update – help wanted!

    Two weeks ago we announced the launch of the Mozilla Developer Network. We also asked for your help through this short survey for Web developers. The questions were meant to understand who you are, what you’re interested in, and what resources would be most useful to you on MDN. We’re happy to report that we have received over 3,600 responses so far, so thank you!

    Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Data:

    HTML/CSS/Javascript are the winning combination, PHP is a close 4th. After that, technology choices are quite fragmented.

    Dev survey - nov8 - what technologie do you use

    The most popular tools for development are a collection of Firefox add-ons, including Firebug and Web developer, and… text editors! Each developer has a favorite, from vi or emacs to TextMate or Notepad++.

    Dev survey - nov 8 - what tools do you use

    Either Web developers live mostly in the US and in France, or this is where the most active Mozilla developer outreach is happening. We think it’s the latter, for France we call it the “Paul and Tristan effect”!

    Dev survey - nov 8 - where are you located

    What Are We Missing?

    Please help us get more responses from around the world so we can understand the needs of Web developers everywhere.

    We would also love to get more participants who are working in corporate environments, especially on intranets. And we’d like to hear more from those of you who are working (willingly or not) with proprietary technologies.

    How Can You Help?

    We’d like to get 5,000 responses before we close the survey, so help us spread the word to other Web developers: tweet about it and send the survey link to your friends!

    Once we have enough responses, we’ll publish the results on this blog. You can also follow the latest Mozilla Developer Network updates on Twitter at @mozhacks.

  6. MDN: The Kuma switch begins on July 5th!

    Update 2012-07-06: The date when content editing switches to the new platform has been postponed to July 9th. There have been some stability and data center issues that slowed us down, as well as a few big bugs that have been resolved but still need to be tested.


    Hopefully by now you’re aware we’re switching to a brand new, Mozilla-built wiki platform for the Mozilla Developer Network. The new site will launch in mid-July, and we’re incredibly excited about it!

    As part of the launch process, we’re going to begin directing all editing of content to the new wiki starting on July 5th. That means any time someone tries to edit a page, they will actually go to the new site and edit that instead. No editing of the current, MindTouch powered site will be possible from that time on.

    The current site will remain in place for the time being, and viewers will see that rather than the updated content. However, each page will include a banner explaining the situation and offering a link to the equivalent page on the new wiki, for people that want to view the very latest content.

    On the weekend of July 7-8, we plan to have a very structured test program, led by Mozilla’s brilliant QA team. We will be inviting community members to participate actively, to help ensure that the new site is ready for action.

    We continue to expect to launch the new site on or around July 15th, directing all traffic there.

    Watch this space for further announcements. We’re getting close now, and we’ll need your help to get there!

  7. It’s all about web developers!

    Ever wonder which industries have the most web developers? Do you know how many people develop for the web on Linux? Are there more web designers out there than web developers? Where do web developers hang out and what do they think of the resources out there today? Which JavaScript library is the most popular? How many developers use Google Code or visit the MDN for documentation?

    We wanted to get answers to those questions and more… so we reached out to our community and beyond. We ended up with a snapshot of the web developers out there to better guide our plans for the Mozilla Developer Network. While we know a lot about Mozilla hackers, add-on developers, and those working on mobile, we wanted to learn more about web developers, who are by far the largest segment that we touch. And while there is data available about their demographics and the technologies they use, we couldn’t find anything that would give us a better understanding of where they hang out and what they think of the companies that are working on the products and technologies they build and use.

    We looked at the breakdown of web developers, and of the websites and resources they rely on. We will use the results to improve our documentation on the MDN Doc Center and continue to better engage with web developers. As more mobile app developers adopt the web platform for apps and games we want to encourage web developers to push the limits of web applications. Our demos will showcase what the latest HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript innovations. We want to use this survey to know what Mozilla can do to help web developers support the open web.

    I’ll summarize the results from the 1,331 responses we received from our “Web Developers & the Open Web 2010” (WDATOW 2010) survey, and share the infographic we created to capture some of the key findings.

    The Infographic

    Web Developers & the Open Web Survey 2010

    Our Sample

    We reached the greatest number of respondents via our Hacks blog and @mozhacks Twitter account, but we were also able to tap into our global community through our localizers, who helped translate the survey into 9 languages: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Hungarian, Portuguese, Japanese, and Indonesian. We also posted requests for responses to various developer forums and websites affiliated with other companies, to ensure we had a broad sample that was as representative as possible. Of course we didn’t get as many responses from some of those channels, so the results should be interpreted with the caveat that active Mozilla community members are likely overrepresented.

    However, that does not take away from the value of the information we have gathered. We identified “Mozilla” developers and “Other” developers based on answers to a few questions and found that the cross-over profiles of both categories of people were very similar. You can find out more on page 11 in the full report. We identified both categories based on the overall feedback on Mozilla sites vs other company sites, as well as how often they visited those sites, with those that primarily visited MDN making up the “Mozilla” developers, and those that did not being labeled “Other”. Therefore, while some of the open-ended questions might have a lot of subjective and fairly biased opinions, most of the questions produced fairly consistent responses from both groups when it came to the technologies and resources.

    We had a very diverse set of respondents that spans the entire globe. While most other research has large US samples, with only a few other countries represented, for our survey, only 20% of the respondents were in the US. Given the high response rate from Europe, we ended up with a well-balanced international sample. That’s why some of our results may not look like web developer profiles that you have seen elsewhere. And that’s a good thing: we are providing another data point for comparison and further analysis.

    Web Developer Profiles

    We started the survey with some basic questions that would allow us to segment the developers taking the survey. One interesting finding that didn’t seem to match other research we had looked at was the primary OS used by developers. While we would expect most web developers to be on Mac OS X, followed by Windows and a small percentage on Linux (like in the Web Directions survey), we had a more evenly distributed breakdown. Recent Windows versions combined made up 46%, followed by a strong showing of Linux users at 30%, and Mac OS X with a 24% developer base. I would say that a strong bias towards open source in the sample combined with the fact that we had a lot of responses from outside the US are the reasons for Linux being more popular. Also, while a lot of people self-selected as both a web developer and designer, the sample definitely skews towards web developers, so perhaps that explains the Mac OS X numbers.

    It was also interesting to see the years of experience spread out across veterans and newbies, with about 48% of the sample having less than 5 years of experience and 52% having 6 or more years in web development.

    For our “What type of a web developer/designer are you?” question, respondents were allowed to choose more than one answer, so it’s not surprising to see that a lot of people work on many aspects of web development. However, it was clear that most of them were in one (or both) of two categories: 89% front-end developers and 75% back-end developers. There were more web architects than I expected at 41%, and designers made up a sizable chunk, at 39% of the sample. And although only 15% of those surveyed selected “Add-on developer”, we expect that number to go up as more web developers start to create Firefox extensions with Add-on Builder, using JavaScript rather than heavier-weight programming languages.

    There were no surprises from the industries question, with most web developers working in technology at 38%, followed by media at 18%. And while there were smaller percentages working in other industries, 11% of those surveyed were students who have not yet entered the work force. For more on developer profiles see the full report.

    Where Developers Spend Time

    Perhaps the most important series of questions in this survey focused on the web resources and communities that developers rely on for their day-to-day work. Whether it was for looking up documentation or asking questions to debug their code, we wanted to get an idea of the most popular websites for web developers.

    We picked a list of websites based on initial feedback from web developers during the survey design process, and the results clearly show that all of them are popular and engender a lot of opinions on aspects of those sites.

    We not only asked which resource and community was the respondent’s favorite, but also provided a list of attributes for them to rate. PHP.net was the most popular resource at 32%, followed by jQuery.com and w3schools. And Stack Overflow was by far the most popular developer community at 40%, followed by GitHub and Wikipedia.

    We intentionally included a diverse set of websites in order to see how developers rated them on our list of criteria. Since MDN supports both resources and communities, we wanted to get data on a broad set of sites. Be sure to take a close look at the ratings to see how all the websites did across a number of important attributes. You can find them starting on page 20 of the full report.

    We were looking for a way to find out what works across a variety of site characteristics. For example, our Hacks blog is mostly posts about web technology, the MDN Doc Center is all about documentation, and our various programs and campaigns via Mobile, Add-ons, and Labs provide a more interactive forum for developers to get involved. Based on the ratings and open-ended feedback, we have learned a lot about which existing sites do well in terms of effectiveness, documentation, navigation, aesthetics, etc.

    All of this information is valuable for us as we evaluate and prioritize projects that will help us grow and improve our MDN community.

    Web Technologies

    We also wanted to gauge which technologies developers are using right now. It was no surprise that the web standards trio of HTML, CSS and JavaScript remain the primary set of technologies for most web developers, with usage at over 95% for all three. PHP was also notably still the most popular programming language at 80%, with Python a distant second at 24%, followed by Flash at 22%. To see the complete breakdown of technologies used, as well as what developers identified as “open technologies”, see page 16 in the full report.

    Within JavaScript, jQuery remains the most popular library at 82%. Prototype was used by 16% of the respondents, with Mootools next at 12%, and Yahoo’s YUI coming in at 10%. With so many JS libraries to choose from, we expect that those numbers will continue to shift.

    We also asked which next-generation technologies were interesting to our respondents, and found out that HTML5 video, canvas, and SVG were all important to developers. 3D using WebGL seemed less interesting to them, but that might be due to the technology being not yet ready for prime time and the lack of examples in the wild. We hope to change that with the capabilities in Firefox 4 and beyond.

    Company Affiliated Websites

    Although all of the sites in this category serve different purposes and have varying feature sets, it was still important to get a feel for where developers were spending their time and how they viewed the developer sites from companies like Adobe, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Oracle, and Sun.

    Given our sample, we expected most developers to have heard of and frequently visited Google’s and Mozilla’s sites. The data clearly shows both as popular destinations for web developers. But it’s important to note that these two sites offer different benefits to developers. Google Code is a great open source code repository and community, while the MDN website remains a very popular web documentation resource.

    The other sites are mostly focused on promoting and supporting the company’s products and technologies, so it wasn’t surprising to see that many of our respondents had never, or rarely, visited them. Again, given our audience, we expected to see this and it was nice to confirm our assumptions.

    What’s next?

    Our survey report, as well as the high-level data reflected in our infographic, give us a snapshot of the web developers we serve through our MDN website and programs. With the insights from this survey, we now know where in the world our audience is, where they go for information and help, and what they think about the companies that help define the web.

    A few key areas we need to work on right now are localization, documentation, and developer tools. From the knowledge we have gained, we now have data to back up some of the assumptions we have made to date, the details we need to refine our MDN roadmap, and user feedback to guide our developer engagement efforts from a marketing and communications stand point.

    As we kick off the new MDN docs platform project, build out a demo gallery to showcase the latest in HTML5 and CSS3 the web has to offer, and continue to find ways to connect with the web developers that visit us every day, this survey and future developer research will continue to guide us.

    Thanks to everyone who participated and we hope that you find the infographic interesting. We tried to capture the major findings in a way that would allow anyone to quickly get a sense of what the web developer community looks like today. If you’re interested in seeing the full report, it is available at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/39278543/Web-Developers-the-Open-Web-Survey-Results.

    Thanks!
    - Jay & the MDN team

    UPDATE: I apologize for anyone that had problems viewing the full report on scribd.com. I did not realize you needed an account to view public slides. The report is now available for download in .pdf, .odp, and .pptx formats.

  8. Welcoming the new kid: Web Platform Docs

    Documenting the open Web and Web standards is a big job! As Mozillians, we’re well aware of this — documenting the open Web has been the mission of the Mozilla Developer Network for many years. Anything we can do to further the cause of a free and open Web is a worthwhile endeavor. With so many different groups involved in the design and development of new Web standards, it can be tricky to figure out the current right way to use them. That’s why we’re excited to be able to share this news with you.

    Introducing Web Platform Docs

    Mozilla, along with a group of major Web-related organizations convened by the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C), has announced the start of Web Platform Docs (WPD), a new documentation site for Web standards documentation, which will be openly-licensed and community-maintained. The supporting organizations, known as the “stewards,” have contributed an initial batch of content to the site from their existing resources. The body of content is very much in an alpha state, as there is much work to be done to integrate, improve, and augment that content. to achieve the vision of WPD as a comprehensive and authoritative source for Web developer documentation. The stewards want to open the site for community participation as early as possible. With your help, WPD can achieve its vision being a comprehensive and authoritative source for Web developer documentation.

    Web Platform Docs has a similar goal to MDN: to help web developers improve their ability to make sites and applications using web standards. Mozilla welcomes this effort and joins with the other stewards in financially supporting the Web Platform Docs project, and in providing seed content for it. This new project is very much aligned with Mozilla’s mission to promote openness, innovation, and opportunity on the Web.

    What does this mean for MDN?

    MDN already provides a wealth of information for Web developers and for developers who use or contribute to Mozilla technology. That isn’t going to change. Some members of the MDN community, including both paid staff and volunteers, are actively involved with the Web Platform Docs project. Web Platform Docs incorporates some seed content from MDN, namely tutorial and guide content. Anyone is welcome to use MDN content under its Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license (CC-BY-SA), whether on WPD or elsewhere.

    Licensing issues

    Licensing is where things get a little bit complicated. MDN and WPD use different contributor agreements and different licenses for reuse. By default, WPD contributors grant W3C the ability to relicense their original content under an open license (Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY)). MDN content is licensed by the contributors under CC-BY-SA. The copyright belongs to the contributors, not to Mozilla, so we don’t have the right to change the license. Therefore, content that originates from MDN must be specially marked and attributed when it appears on WPD. If you create an account on WPD and create a new page, you’ll see that there is an option to indicate that the content you’re contributing came from MDN, and to provide the original URL on MDN. If you do copy MDN content (and we would be happy if you did so), we ask that you comply with the license requirements. There is also a way on WPD to mark sections of articles as coming from MDN, for cases where they get merged into CC-BY content.

    Get involved

    We encourage all Mozillians to visit the Web Platform Docs site, take a look, and get involved. By working with the other stewards to jointly build a complete, concise, and accurate suite of documentation of and for Web standards, we can help make the future of the World Wide Web brighter than ever!

  9. How MDN and Web Platform Docs Align

    We have been asked a number of questions since the launch of Web Platforms Docs (WPD) about how it aligns with the Mozilla Developer Network (MDN). Questions such as how content will be shared between the two, how changes will be tracked, who will do the work to port content, and which site people should contribute to. To try and help answer some of these questions, we’ve put together this short FAQ.

    Before we dive into these, it’s worth underscoring that Mozilla sees MDN and WPD complementing each other. While WPD is just starting out on its journey to become an invaluable resource for developers, MDN is fully mature and will continue to serve needs that WPD doesn’t. We also want to take this opportunity to remind people that Mozilla is community driven, so any decisions to change what we’re doing will be based on community feedback.

    Here are the top questions we’re getting on the introduction of WPD. If you have additional questions, post a comment or email jswisher (at) mozilla (dot) com.

    MDN and WPD seem to have similar goals. How are they different?

    Mozilla supports WPD because it fits with Mozilla’s mission to promote openness and innovation on the Web. WPD has the benefit of financial support, content contributions, and perspectives from multiple browser vendors and Web-oriented companies. MDN has a long history of supporting developers of many stripes: Web developers, developers who use Mozilla code, and developers who work on Mozilla code. MDN promotes Mozilla’s mission by serving all these audiences.

    One difference is in the default licenses for reuse of the content from the two sites, although they are both Creative Commons licenses. MDN uses a CC-BY-SA license, which ensures that reused content will always be published in the context of an openly licensed work. WPD uses a CC-BY license, which enables the content to be reused as widely as possible, including potentially in the context of otherwise proprietary works.

    Why support two similar sites? Isn’t there a lot of topical overlap?

    WPD is in its infancy, and will take time to gather momentum, soothe teething problems, and foster a community, which Mozilla and other WPD stewards will help to do. Meanwhile MDN needs to support the hundreds of thousands of developers who visit it every week.

    As WPD matures, the MDN community will evaluate if and when it makes sense to defer to it on particular topics. In an ideal future, WPD would become the authoritative resource on Web standards, with a large volunteer community and community-based governance, while MDN could focus on Mozilla’s vision and its open source products that implement those standards. But it will take some time to get there.

    WPD launched its site as a “minimum viable product”, providing just enough features to get started. This is a prudent and reasonable strategy, so that feedback can help determine how the site is developed. However, it means that WPD is currently lacking desirable features that will be added later. Key among these missing features is support for translating articles into other languages, to help Web developers whose native language is not English.

    Meanwhile, due to its long head start as a Web resource, MDN offers translations in multiple languages, which are created by global communities of volunteer localizers, who prioritize translation of topics based on local needs and interests. As with English content, the localization communities will evaluate whether and when it makes sense to defer to content on WPD.

    Can MDN content be copied to WPD? Who is going to do the work of porting MDN content to WPD?

    Anyone working on articles on a given topic on WPD is more than welcome to incorporate content from MDN, as it makes sense to do so. Rather than exporting MDN content into WPD, wholesale, we hope that it will be curated by WPD authors into the appropriate context on the new site.

    Please be sure to following the licensing and attributing guidelines for MDN content on WebPlatform.org. This is needed because of the different licenses for the sites’ content; MDN content on WPD must be delineated and attributed, to ensure proper credit to MDN authors, and to convey the share-alike license requirement.

    Will duplicated content in both sites be automatically kept in sync?

    There’s no technical solution to do this at this time. We expect that each site’s content will evolve independently.

    Doesn’t that mean that there will be redundant work to keep both of them updated, especially as browsers and standards progress?

    Yes, unfortunately. There may eventually be areas where the sites can share information, such as browser compatibility data.[1] That has yet to be worked out.

    Are the stewards just turning WPD over to “the community” or are they devoting staff to it?

    Mozilla has paid staff participating in the WPD community in addition to working on MDN. Chris Mills of Opera is spending half of his time as a W3C Fellow, with a focus on WPD. Other stewards, as well as W3C, also have staff working on WPD; you’d have to ask them about their time allocation. However, contributions from Web developers, writers, educators, and others who are not paid staff of stewards are essential to the long-term success of WPD (as well as that of MDN). If only steward-paid staff contribute, it will not achieve its vision to be a truly open community resource.

    I want to contribute to Web standards documentation. Should I contribute to MDN or to WPD?

    Both sites could use your help, and Mozilla is contributing to both sites. MDN has an established community and lots of open documentation for the Web, which always needs improving, expanding, and translating. We will continue to build that community and give them a place to learn and share knowledge about the Web. WPD’s community is still forming, and could use your input into basic issues like information architecture and the translation scheme. WPD aims to bring together tutorials and materials from many different organizations, as well as contributions from Web developers, and we believe that will also support the open Web. Check them both out. Meet the communities. Join in where you feel comfortable.

    Here are some channels for getting involved:

      Mozilla Developer Network Web Platform Docs
    Introduction to contributing Getting started Getting Started Guide
    Mailing list dev-mdc@lists.mozilla.org public-webplatform@w3.org
    IRC channel

    #devmo on irc.mozilla.org #webplatform on irc.freenode.org

    [1] Specifically, MDN has lots of manually collected cross-browser compatibility data, which WPD can use now; WPD is looking at ways to automate collecting such data, which MDN could then also use.

  10. Write some docs, get an MDN t-shirt

    MDN logoAs I mentioned in my post about ways you can help improve MDN in 2011, we are holding a virtual sprint to write documentation on MDN next week, January 28 to 29.

    “Virtual” means that there will not be an in-person meeting, but rather people will participate from wherever they are, discussing what we’re doing via IRC. Please join us for any portion of the scheduled 34 hours of sprint time. If you’re not sure what to work on, just ask (either before or during the sprint), and we can help you find something appropriate to your background and interests.

    Check out the doc sprint planning page for more details. Add your name under “Who” if you think you might help out.

    By the way, if you’re not familiar with IRC, it’s a real-time text chat protocol that Mozilla uses a lot. If you don’t have a favorite IRC client program, you can use the ChatZilla add-on for Firefox, or the MiBBit website. Specify the server as irc.mozilla.org on port 6697 using SSL, pick a nickname, and connect to the #devmo channel. (If you’re having trouble with all that, you can use the mozilla.dev.mdc Google group to ask for help. Sorry about the spam in there, but I will see and respond if you post.)

    Oh, and did I mention the t-shirts?

    Make a non-trivial contribution during the sprint, and send me your size and mailing address, and I will make sure you get a t-shirt featuring the MDN robot-dino. (Your personal info will be handled according to the Mozilla privacy policy. I promise not to show up at your door demanding more documentation.)