TL;DR: Having achieved much of what I hoped when running for the TAG six years ago, it’s time for fresh perspectives. Therefore, with my deep and enthusiastic support, Google has nominated Alice Boxhall in the current election. If you work at a W3C member organisation, please seriously consider making Alice your first vote.
For the past 6 years, I’ve served as a member of the W3C’s Technical Architecture Group (or “TAG” for short).
Back in 2012, a slate of reformers (including myself) ran with a few goals in mind:
- Refocusing the group on the APIs that most impacted web developers; namely DOM, CSS, and interaction with JS
- Improving the layering and overall quality of client-side APIs
- Moving to work collaboratively with other groups — both inside and external to the W3C — to make progress on these fronts
I’m proud of the work we’ve done in that time. There’s less “spooky action at a distance” in the web platform today, and many designs have been greatly reworked due to our collaboration with working groups.
Notable examples include:
- The introduction of Audio Worklet to the Web Audio API and the deprecation of the glitch-inducing Script Processor Node
- Pervasive adoption of Promises in web APIs and a guide for how to integrate them in new features
- Co-sponsorship of the Houdini effort to address our critique of CSS’s hitherto poor layering
- Improvements to WASM’s JS API to avoid security and performance problems.
- The ongoing effort to review many legacy features in HTML to identify areas for improvement.
- Guidelines for designing Web Components in such a way as to keep the web extensible for the long-haul.
To help designers avoid commonly spotted issues, the TAG has extracted a growing set of Design Principles from the dozens of reviews we have conducted over the past 6 years.
All of this is in addition to the TAG’s continuing work of weighing in on issues that affect the architecture of the web via Findings.
The TAG’s recent track record of collaboratively improving designs and preventing likely disasters has cemented its value to the web community. We reformed to the work mode of the group and demonstrated so much impact that, despite having no formal power, the TAG has earned an influential place in Blink’s feature development process.
It’s against this backdrop that I’m pleased my colleague Alice Boxhall has decided to run in the current TAG election. Due to W3C rules surrounding representation from a single firm (a topic for another time), we cannot both stand. This means the upcoming TAG meeting in February in Tokyo will be my last — and I hope Alice’s first.
Why Alice, and why now?
First, Alice brings a new perspective to the TAG thanks to her dedication and leadership in accessibility.
Her work on Chrome’s a11y systems and her development of the Accessibility Object Model speak to the depth of her understanding and willingness to solve gnarly, deep problems within the platform. This is the sort of expertise the TAG needs, and with changes to HTML’s governance, it’s important that the a11y community has a voice within the web’s most influential design review body.
Second, in addition to broadening the skills represented within the TAG, it’s important the TAG is staffed with members who will “do the work”. The TAG’s authority (such as it is) resides in its reputation for collaborative, constructive, timely design feedback. Having worked with Alice for more than 6 years, I am certain her dedication and working style are well suited to the rigors of the role.
Lastly, this nomination represents a continuing commitment from Google and the Chrome team to the health and quality of web APIs. Some AC members might worry that my stepping back from serving on the TAG indicates less emphasis on it from Chrome and the Chromium community. Nothing could be further from the truth. I continue to serve as Tech Lead for Google’s overall web standards efforts and we maintain a keen interest in the good-functioning of the TAG — particularly now that it has earned a place in the critical path for shipping features in Blink. In addition to the usual travel and logistical support I have enjoyed on the TAG, Alice has the backing and support of the entire Chrome Web Standards Team.
I trust the TAG will continue to improve the layering, coherence, and usability of the platform; and with your organisation’s support, also it’s accessibility.
For these reasons, I urge you to give Alice Boxhall your organisation’s first vote on the currently open AC ballot.