WebPlatform.org: A Case Study in Open Technical Documentation

Doug Schepers (W3C), Janet Swisher (Mozilla), Eliot Graff (Microsoft)
Location: E144 Level: Novice

The Open Web Platform has grown complex and is rapidly changing, increasing the need for quality documentation. WebPlatform.org is intended to be THE definitive documentation source for client-side open web technologies, and to succeed at this goal, the organizers felt that it had to be a shining example of what an open source documentation project can be. To this end, we:

  • Made the community open: anyone can contribute to the project for free, with whatever useful skills they have at their disposal
  • Published the documentation on an open license: We chose CC-BY as our default license, with the aim of making the docs as reusable and extensible as possible
  • Built the platform on open source technologies such as MediaWiki and OpenStack, so that the site is easy for anyone to fix, extend, and improve.

We have already achieved much, getting many pages of useful documentation up on the site, fixing many bugs, running doc sprints round the world to help move forward, and fostering a currently-small-but-passionate community of people who want to help with the effort. But we’ve got a lot more to do.

In this session we will talk about the community, the docs and the infrastructure, and the challenges and advantages, looking at what has worked well and what has not been so successful, to help others learn from our successes and mistakes.

Photo of Doug Schepers

Doug Schepers


Doug Schepers is Developer Relations Lead at W3C, and is a project coordinator for the SVG, WebApps, Touch Events, and Audio Working Groups, and the initiator of WebPlatform.org. He has been developing SVG applications for over a decade, and still tries to code in his copious spare time.

Photo of Janet Swisher

Janet Swisher


Janet Swisher has been involved in open source software and documentation since 2004. She is a community organizer for Mozilla, focused on developer documentation and technical evangelism. She advises the Web Platform Docs project about community building. She serves on the Board of Directors of the FLOSS Manuals Foundation, whose mission is to create free manuals for free software. She relaxes by throwing people around, and being thrown around, in an Aikido dojo.

Photo of Eliot Graff

Eliot Graff


Editor and author of W3C specifications on behalf of Microsoft and representative to the Webplatform project, I am the current developer doc lead for Internet Explorer and former lead for the Tablet PC dev docs. I was called an English professor and have been a son of a son of a sailor.


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