Reading the spec—The100DayProject

If it hasn’t come up in your feed yet, The Great Discontent / Elle Luna are running a version of a 100-day project, wherein you work on the same type of creative task for 100 days straight. It’s not a new concept—in fact, this version was inspired by the Yale design program—but I wanted to jump on the chance to explore a theme alongside many other creatives. Collective power of will, focusing the innate need to “make”, etc.

I’m reading the HTML specification

Before this 100 day project came up, I was thinking it would be cool to read the official HTML spec and live-tweet or blog it. I abandoned the idea because reading—actually reading—the whole thing just seemed too daunting, or that I would get bored or distracted by other projects and give up.

But reading “as much as I can” in 100 days, that’s something I can do.

Why read the spec?

Like many other web professionals, all my development skills are self-taught. I’ve worked to fill in the cracks in my knowledge by reading blog posts, etc., but I’m sure there’s a lot to be gained from reading the official HTML specifications. Chiefly, I’m looking to:

  • Correct misconceptions I might have about HTML or how to use it
  • Learn new things: some quirks or attributes of familiar elements, etc
  • Pick up more knowledge about ARIA roles and other considerations in accessibility
  • Be able to speak more intelligently about why we do x or y

There’s also something a bit weird about not having the read (or not regularly consulting) the closest thing front-end developers have to a “holy text”. Blog posts are better packaged for human reading, but I’d like to get information straight from the source more frequently.

The version I’m using

I’m reading the official recommendation, rather than the nightly draft. This version is of course not as current, but I wanted to work from something stable, stamped with a seal of approval.

How this will work

I conveniently have a one-hour commute and a laptop, so I’ll be using this daily chunk of time to read the specifications and write up a blog post with my notes and comments. I’ll tweet the blog post using #100DaysOfSpec. Some designers will get in a tizzy because they will think I’m doing 100 days of spec work, and I will get a chuckle out of it (maybe).

A disclaimer

I am an employee of Microsoft, which obviously is active in the web community. Any opinions, comments, etc. in this blog post series are strictly my own. I do not speak on the behalf of my employer, and thus no comments should be taken as representative of Microsoft’s official opinion of the spec.