28 May 2013
I’ve been doing this—on a very focused topic—for coming up on two years now, and encountered resistance every step of the way. It has been incredibly frustrating, and for a long time occupied every bit as many hours of my free time as a part-time job would, for myself and a handful of other members of my community group. Despite the efforts of dozens of native and web developers, despite tremendous and highly vocal support from the developer community, and despite the formal publication of our proposed spec, we have made next to no real-world progress. When we engage UA representatives, we’re usually met by something to the tune of “you should involve more browser representatives in these discussions” and a prompt end to the discussion we aimed to start. There has been no implementation progress, apart from a Chromium implementation done by one of our members. There is no incentive to help us. We’re largely regarded as pests.
It sounds like a ton of work because it is. It isn’t pleasant work, and you’ll receive very little help along the way. And after putting enough time and effort into it for—literally—several years, you may not make any progress anyway.
I left this comment on a G+ post about getting more web developers involved in web standards, last month.
I should say up-front that I do stand by it: working in web standards is incredibly frustrating. It involves no small amount of interaction with people who seem to have graduated from the Hacker News Commenter School of Diplomacy. We “authors” don’t hold much weight in standards discussions; at least, nowhere near as much as browser representatives do.
Now, do I think more full-time designers and web developers should get involved in standards, after all this glowing endorsement? Absolutely. The fact is, we don’t have the kind of voice we ought to have because we’re not there. “Author preference” is very often used to argue for or against something in a standards discussion, but very few of us are around to agree or disagree. We’re a talking point more than we’re active participants.
Join a mailing list, start a community group; make yourself heard. When you see someone post “I think developers will prefer X,” speak up. When you’re building something and find yourself cursing out some strange syntax or thinking to yourself “this would have made so much more sense if,” don’t chalk it up to someone in web standards dropping the ball. Don’t assume someone with a louder voice than yours is going to keep it from happening again.