If you are a web developer, or someone who has been on a team that builds applications for the web, you’d have gone through the pains of making your client side code work smoothly on multiple browsers. There would have been many occasions when you’d scour the internet, forum, communities, and Q&A sites, in an attempt to find a solution to fix that stubborn button that slightly misaligns on IE7, before finding an answer, or worse, alter your design because you couldn’t find the right solution in the right time.

W3C has launched WebPlatform.org, a community-driven site the W3C hopes will become the go-to source for learning how to build the web, and troubleshooting issues while building the web. Contrary to the boring, monochromatic text-only, lengthy specs by W3C, WebPlatform Docs are hypertext-enabled and come with a very pleasing UI and easy navigability. 

The initiative is backed by leading browser companies Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, and Opera, and some of the biggest players on the web Apple, Facebook, Nokia, and HP. With W3C as the convenor, these behemoths will act as stewards for the project, helping to build a community and grow the site. These organizations will have individuals dedicated to the WebPlatform to keep the site up to date, monitor and edit user-generated content, and make sure the information is useful in an easy-to-find way.

People in the web community — including browser makers, authoring tool makers, and leading-edge developers and designers — have tremendous experience and practical knowledge about the web”, said Tim Berners-Lee, W3C director. “Web Platform Docs is an ambitious project where all of us who are passionate about the web can share knowledge and help one another.

With Web Platform Docs, web professionals will save time and resources by consulting with confidence a single site for current, cross-browser and cross-device coding best practices, including:

  • How to use each feature of the Open Web Platform, with syntax and examples;
  • The interoperability of various technologies across platforms and devices;
  • The standardization status of each technology specification;
  • The stability and implementation status of features.

The Web Platform’s slogan is Your Web, documented. It covers topics such as HTML5, CSS, Canvas, WEB GL, SVG, Video and Audio. Although much of it is very complicated, it includes beginner stuff like Web development for beginners.

Aptly titled “One Small Step”, the first blog post on the WebPlatform blog says:

WebPlatform.org will have accurate, up-to-date, comprehensive references and tutorials for every part of client-side development and design, with quirks and bugs revealed and explained. It will have in-depth indicators of browser support and interoperability, with links to tests for specific features. It will feature discussions and script libraries for cutting-edge features at various states of implementation or standardization, with the opportunity to give feedback into the process before the features are locked down. It will have features to let you experiment with and share code snippets, examples, and solutions. It will have an API to access the structured information for easy reuse. It will have resources for teachers to help them train their students with critical skills. It will have information you just can’t get anywhere else, and it will have it all in one place.

A small step for W3C, a giant leap for web development.

Almost every browser vendor has their own learning resources for web developers and there is a lot of overlap: Mozilla Developer Network, MSDN, Dev.Opera, Safari Dev Center, and the Chromium project by Google. A consolidation of all these resources into one easy to use website for web development will be interesting and useful. I wonder what will happen to these individual resources now–will they continue to function the way they are or content will be shared between the developer resource for the individual browser and this one for cross-browser resources in general. Biased information like this About LiveConnect page will be flagged ‘Not Neutral’. Steps like these will ensure the quality and generality of the entire resources.

There are quite a few trusted community-driven resources like the the all-technology StackOverflow, the web-development specific Web Monkey, and even the Q&A site Quora is catching up fast. With the backup from W3C and all the biggies, WebPlatform may quickly see users moving out from these sites to its own.

Currently in Alpha, the platform is already very rich in content, and is poised to become the defacto standard for all Javscript/HTML5/CSS4 resources. Browse through the easy-to-navigate site and easy-to-read tutorials, and if you get stuck where to begin, look at this Getting Started flowchart, or watch this introductory video:

Developers and communities all around the world are rejoiced and hopeful of this initiative. Lets see, in the comments section, what does the Pluggd.in developer community feel about this.

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