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Web Standards Project to close

Pioneering and important project to shutter, its job now done

The Web Standards Project (WaSP) website has announced its job is done. In the near future, a permanent, static archive of the site and some other resources will be made, to preserve it as a resource and record.

In a post on the website, WaSP group manager Aaron Gustafson recalled how WaSP was born as a hostile battle raged between then giants Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Each browser was trying to outdo the other and both were fragmenting the web. In those days, it was commonplace for developers to create browser-specific websites, which in the long term would be unsustainable. WaSP rallied developers and designers, and later managed to encourage browser vendors and application developers to more fully embrace standards and enable interoperability.

“Thanks to the hard work of countless WaSP members and supporters, Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of the web as an open, accessible and universal community is largely the reality,” said Gustafson, noting that while there’s work still to be done, “the sting of the WaSP is no longer necessary”.

Standards advocate and Mozilla developer evangelist Christian Heilmann said WaSP had been invaluable, both to him personally and to the web as a whole: “WaSP's work has been a big part of my life as a developer. I am grateful for what it’s done and [for] having been part of a taskforce to bring JavaScript away from browser-specific hacks. WaSP was a think-tank of likeminded people who bounced ideas off each other, which made all of our publications better.”

Heilmann said WaSP’s closure was “regrettable” but understandable within the context of a changing market, which now demands learning resources that use more interactive approaches. “The battle has also changed,” he added, noting that while the desktop is now largely safe from a standards standpoint, there are big problems in mobile where the web is “hindered from being the main platform”. He thought changing that is now the job of many web designers and developers, but that requires a different approach to the one WaSP once took: “We need to effectively deliver on the promises we made about the web. With Mozilla's work and WebPlatform.org we have already great conversations and resources to point to. Our job is to keep them up to date and promote them rather than creating more ‘here is what you should do’ resources.”

Read WaSP co-founder Jeffrey Zeldman's memories of the project and what it meant for the web.

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