Interview with Adobe’s open web standards guru

What does a day in the life of web standards look like? What’s your biggest challenge?

We are part of the working groups that produce specifications, such as the CSS specification or the SVG specification. That means that me (even though I do not do this anymore) or others in our team actively participate to mailing list discussions, meet with partners, and join into online chat (on IRC channels) to discuss issues and solutions for specifications that are under work. We also actively participate in the related testing effort and in particular the related Test the Web Forward series of events that we initiated last year.

But, we also work on the implementation side of the standards and a lot of our team works in the Blink or the WebKit code bases, the web engines that power Google Chrome, and Apple’s Safari browsers, respectively. We also make contributions to the Gecko engine which powers the Firefox browser.

Our biggest challenge is that we do not release a browser ourselves so we work by positive contributions, in the spirit of the open web. But we do not control directly which features are shipped in a particular browser. For example, we are thrilled that CSS Regions, which we initiated with Microsoft and others, is now shipping in IE, Safari mobile, and desktop. But we do not have complete control of when it will become part of Chrome. Instead, we need to work with the community to bring features to life. Working through influence is not always easy!

This flip side of this challenge is that we get to bring a unique voice to the communities that are developing browsers and new web standards. Adobe’s history and DNA are closely tied to designers and the tools they use. It’s great to be able to represent their needs and desires.