Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress.

New Blog, Who Dis?

For the past few months, I've been on-again-off-again working to migrate this site from WordPress hosted on a linux VPS to 11ty ("eleven-tea") hosted on Netlify.

I'd avoided the move for sundry reasons that boiled down to inertia, but a recent weekend spent on maintainance — not to mention the treadmill of re-testing to ensure WP hadn't inadvertantly bloated pages via plugin "upgrade" — finally wore me down.

This is a strictly lateral move in terms of functionality, and writing importers and ensuring that urls didn't break was an adventure I'm not keen to revisit. Most of the complexity has been a consequence of this blog's sFTP-era Blogger → hosted Blogger → html-flavoured-WordPress → markdown-flavoured-WordPress → markdown-in-git transitions. I might write up the process at some point and perhaps publish the import script that consumed so much time, but this "first post!!!!" will have to suffice for now.

The transition has offered me the chance to fix niggling performance issues and opens the door to more and better in future. It has also been nice to have something else to plink away at (besides work) whilst the weeks in isolation flow anonymously, seemingly faster every day.

Simpler times, Tokyo.
Simpler times, Tokyo.

Alice Boxhall for W3C TAG

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:

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:

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.

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