As Friday 13th is almost always lucky for me, I’ve waited until today to announce what is a major career and hopefully life change.
For the last four years or so I’ve been a jobbing web developer and content editor, most recently as one half of the web team for a large organisation in the legal sector. It’s been a real eye-opener, working to evangelise accessibility and and build using standards while juggling organisational imperatives, sub-optimal content management systems and inflexible backends (ooh madam).
It’s been a privilege to work with the other half of the team, John Rieger, who has a George Orwell-like dedication to clarity of thought and clarity of language, and who is a trained print journalist yet completely gets the web: accessibility, web standards, usability—the whole caboodle. As a team, we crazily tested in other browsers, commissioned Stuart Langridge to write us top-notch scripts (that will be open-sourced when he can be arsed), and relentlessly focussed on the visitor with our web Constitution. I’m proud of what we achieved, and wish I could link to the redesign we worked on for months (but technical gremlins delayed launch).
However, I’ve decided it is time to move on, and am just about to fly to Norway to meet up with my new colleagues at Opera Software where I shall be a Web Evangelist.
I’ve been promoting web standards for 6 years now, and the work that Opera does to promote standards will be a continuation of that. As the job ad says, “At Opera, we’re fighting for one web and open web standards, and we’re looking for an enthusiastic, passionate individual to help us in this fight!” and that, I hope, describes me.
I like the fact that Opera practices what it preaches and will fight for it. I know that many thought Opera was wrong to complain to the E.U. about Microsoft’s abuse of web standards, but in hindsight, many see a link between Opera’s complaint and Microsoft’s change of heart over IE8’s standards compliance.
To me, that’s a proven track record of success, a good outcome for all (Microsoft included), and I applauded them at the time for doing it.
I like Opera products, and remember reading in The Bangkok Post in 1998 about this alternative to IE and Netscape that I could carry on a floppy disc. So I did – and it’s been my leisure browser ever since (because of keyboard accessibility, rendering speed, tabbed browsing, and latterly the speed dial feature).
Opera will support my standards-based activities elsewhere, both financially and by giving me time to do them. This is important to them and really important to me, as I’ve found recently that having a full-time job, being a husband and father, singing in a band, going for my karate purple belt and telling the finest jokes on the web leaves no time to do the other stuff, like fighting the good fight in microformats, HTML5 and following up with the CSS3 call for suggestions.
Although I’ll be travelling regularly to conferences and the like, when I’m not on the road I’ll be working from home, which means I can walk my daughter to school in the mornings and break from work to eat an evening meal with my family. So I’ll be able to devote more time to HTML5, to speaking engagements, to a hush-hush project with Patrick Lauke, Julie Howell and other accessibility luminaries, and still have a life.
The bloke who invented CSS, Håkon Wium Lie, is Opera’s Chief Technology Officer, so the whole office is suffused with webby goodness.
I’ll be working on a team that includes an old friend from glasshaus publishing, Chris Mills who is Opera’s Developer Relations Manager, and the crazed genius that is Opera’s Chief Web Opener, David “not Dave” Storey.
(I note in passing that compared with my job title and David’s, Chris’ is rather prosaic; I hope we can get him retitled to “Psychedelic tweaker of web nipples” as he deserves nothing less).
I think that this means that I’ll be blogging about technical subjects even less as I travel to Norway next week and to An Event Apart Boston the week after, and then take some time getting my head round it all. But then there should be a lot more activity and work done soon enough.
Given the huge overlap between my professional and personal interests, I’ll continue to blog here, but will double-post web standards-related posts to the forthcoming Developer Relations Team blog on the Opera site and open comments there. Filth and jokes will live only here, so please stay tuned, and wish me luck.
Oh – and try out yesterday’s release of Opera 9.5, just for me. It’s got new developer tools, and supports WAI ARIA and loads of CSS3 loveliness.