MDN Fellows: What They Did & What’s Next

It’s hard to believe our MDN Fellowship Pilot is winding down! Announced in May and oriented in June, our five Fellows and mentors have been heads’ down ever since.  Here’s a short summary of their accomplishments in the program and a taste of what’s next.

Curriculum (Steve Kinney, Fellow; Chris Mills, Mentor)

For the curriculum Fellowship we selected to write a full course on “Advanced beginning JavaScript.”  Steve and Chris considered this to be important because, while there are loads of resources looking at beginner-level stuff like variables and basic function usage + a load of discussion of really advanced techniques, there is very little to help a budding developer who has already mastered the basics and wants to level-up their skills.

Steve and Chris are still working on the course, and will be for weeks to come — see the repo, and read the index file for an idea of the content we’ll include.

If you want to dig in right away, you can already start working through some of the tutorials and demos.

Service Workers (Flaki Szmozsanszky, Fellow; Brittany Storoz + Anne Van Kesteren, Mentors)

With more widespread browser support for service workers fast approaching, we were aiming for creating a “baseline” service worker content kit. It was to cover the general, high-level “what are service workers and why should I care?” questions as well as being able to provide resources for interested parties. Take a test drive of the content kit here.

Beyond just collecting and completing the above baseline content kit, during the Fellowship Flaki had the chance to work closely not just with his service worker mentors Brittany Storoz and Anne van Kesteren but also with the content & platform teams at Mozilla who work hard on implementing service workers and related features in Firefox & Firefox OS.

We also devised a proof-of-concept transparent image format polyfill that uses service workers, which, besides being a novel approach in using service workers, helped a lot in uncovering some lurking bugs in Firefox’s preliminary implementation. We especially want to thank Ben Kelly of the platform team who was invaluable in tracking down, reporting and fixing those issues.

See this blog post for more details on the content kit and the proof-of-concept polyfill.

Test The Web Forward (Ben Boyle, Fellow; James Graham and Josh Matthews, Mentors)

As Test the Web Forward already has great documentation on getting involved, we had two goals: (1) address the quality of the contributions, and (2) build confidence in new contributors.

We’ve focused on understanding web specifications in order to write accurate tests both in terms of coverage (understanding the detail in a simple specification) and in challenging assumptions so that tests are based on what the spec says (and not what we think it means).

We’ve set up a codepen to use the testing framework. This can be forked to write new tests to check behaviour and is useful for exploring a problem, or for accompanying bug reports. It’s a nice quick way to get started, before installing the Test the Web Forward repo to contribute directly.

We are also working on a couple of case studies (more to come) showing the experience after finding an interoperability issue including researching the specs and analysing the behaviour seen in browsers. Each journey is different, and a wonderful chance to learn more about the web.

Web App Performance (Vignesh Shanmugam, Fellow; Harald Kirschner, Mentor)

With the increase in average website size, we need to better access the web from varying levels of computing power devices and experiments to show the impact on revenue with the increased load times – particularly during development.

The content kit that we are building helps web developers and others understand basic techniques for their websites to load faster. The focus is heavily on the network side of the performance since 70% of the time is spent on the network. Our Content Kit also has various beginner and advanced tutorials, slides and demos.

The kit is not complete yet. We are also planning to include lots of deep dive tutorials on understanding packet level information on TCP stack, how to leverage modern capabilities in browser etc. Please feel free to pour in your ideas.

It was an amazing experience to work with the fellows and mentors who are all part of the MDN fellowship program. Thanks to Mozilla for making this happen 🙂

 

WebGL (Greg Tatum, Mentor; NIck Desaulniers, Mentor)

It has been really exciting being part of the first Mozilla Fellowship group. One of the big reasons for my involvement with the web and open source communities is the feedback from my peers and the quick sharing and collaboration on ideas. The fellowship has quick-started my involvement with MDN and their enthusiastic team of staff and contributors. One of the most valuable experiences was being able to write an article for MDN and get immediate in-person feedback from one of the staff writers. It was really empowering to know that the docs I use every day are so easily improved.

I had a blast diving into explanations of some of the fundamentals of how you go from abstract data to 3D-rendered images in the browser. It was really helpful for my own understanding to build out content kits and articles that step through matrix math fundamentals, the 3d projection process, and finally getting to taking that data and lighting it.

I’m very passionate about creative coding and the technologies surrounding it. It still feels like a niche genre with a community that is growing, especially with people moving from desktop applications to web projects. I only want this community to get larger and produce more and more interesting works that inspires me. I hope my time spent with the Mozilla Fellowship and other open source contributions can help to continue to grow people’s knowledge and interest in technologies like WebGL.

Content kits

Shared utility library for WebGL explanations:

MDN Articles based off of the content kits:

…with Lighting Models coming soon

What’s Next?

We’ll be evaluating the role that this type of program might make towards the goals of both MDN and Mozilla overall. You also might see more contributions on MDN from our Fellows. And rumor has it you may be seeing some of this great work – and even contributing to it – at our November MozFest event in London.
Can’t get to London? Nothing’s stopping you from diving into those repos.

1 response

  1. m,meena wrote on :

    FANTASTIC