How to read W3C specs

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W3C specifications can be long and difficult to read, especially for non-native English speakers. This tells you the absolute basics for reading these specs. Originally written for Test The Web Forward events.

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How to read W3C specs

  1. 1. How to read W3C specs (the bare essentials) Daniel Davis, W3C @ourmaninjapan
  2. 2. Tip 1: Don't read the spec! Well, not yet. Look for demos first.
  3. 3. Tip 2: Understand these terms ● Informative (non-normative): – e.g. examples, advice, reference ● Normative: – rules to follow, formal ● Must → Should → May ● User Agent = Browser (most of the time)
  4. 4. Tip 3: Check the version ● “Stable” version – www.w3.org/... ● “Dev” version – dev.w3.org/...
  5. 5. Tip 4: Read the abstract & introduction Tells you what the spec is for
  6. 6. Tip 6: Read the Table of Contents And read it carefully – it's a good summary of the content
  7. 7. Tip 7: Skip reference bits ● Status ● Conformance ● Terminology ● Privacy ● References ● Acknowledgements ● (until you're more confident)
  8. 8. Tip 8: Look for examples and IDLs Because we love code!
  9. 9. Tip 9: And don't forget... It's written for implementors, so read it from a browser's point of view
  10. 10. How to read W3C specs (the bare essentials) Daniel Davis, W3C @ourmaninjapan

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