Multimedia/Media Viewer

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Media Viewer Desktop - Large Image Opaque Info.png

This is the project hub for Media Viewer, a new tool under development by Wikimedia Foundation's new multimedia team. For a quick overview of this project, visit 'About Media Viewer'.

This new multimedia browser displays images in larger size on Wikipedia and Wikimedia sites, where it was gradually released as the default viewing experience, as described in this release plan.

Media Viewer has been tested extensively, through recent usability studies -- and user feedback was collected through this widely promoted community consultation on many large wikis around the world, as well as in wide online surveys .

Based on this research and feedback, the multimedia team has identified a set of new improvements, which can be previewed in this prototype.

Here are the improvements we plan to make in September and October 2014, to make Media Viewer easier to use by readers and casual editors, our primary target users for this tool.

To that end, we created a new 'minimal design' including these features:

To learn more about other planned development for Media Viewer, visit this Improvements page, where our team will post regular updates on our next development cycle.

We invite you to test Media Viewer as well: you can learn more in this help page. After you've tried the tool , we invite you to let us know what you think and join the discussion. To participate in future discussions and keep up with our work, subscribe to our multimedia mailing list.

Goals[edit | edit source]

Current User Experience
Proposed User Experience
File:Multimedia vision 2016.webm
Vision of Media Viewer and related tools by 2016.

Purpose[edit | edit source]

The purpose of this tool is to:

  • Provide a richer multimedia experience, to match user expectations
  • Display images in larger size, on the same page as the thumbnail you click on
  • Reduce confusion when users click on thumbnails (bypass duplicate file info page on Wikipedias)

It aims to serve all users of Wikipedia, Commons and other MediaWiki sites. Note that this media viewer now only supports still images, but we plan to support other file formats such as video, audio and slides in the next version.

Users[edit | edit source]

Our primary users for Media Viewer are:

  • readers
  • casual editors

Other users include:

  • experienced editors
  • contributors

We aim to support all these user groups, with an initial focus on readers in our first release. See user stories below for each user group.

Reader stories

As a reader, I want to:

  • view larger images
  • find basic information
  • browse related images
  • share a link to this file
  • use a simple, uncluttered interface
  • view images on the same page (not another site)
  • get back to the article easily

See thumbnails to the right for current and proposed reader experience. See also our vision for this tool.

Casual editor stories

As a casual editor, I want to:

  • find more information
  • see original images
  • use this file in an article
  • download this file
  • view license terms
  • view/edit file page details

Experienced editor stories

As an experienced editor, I want to:

  • check meta-data
  • see license terms
  • download this file
  • copy attributions
  • view all the file details
  • edit file information


As a contributor, I want to:

  • view my contributions
  • get attributions if I'm the author or source
  • see where this file is used
  • add or correct information

See also this multimedia vision for examples of how Media Viewer could be used by different user groups in coming years (or watch video to the right).

Minimum Viable Product[edit | edit source]

Features for the minimum viable product include:

  • Show images in larger, media viewer panel when you click on them
  • Modal panel opens up as overlay (on same page where you clicked)
  • Large image appears without clutter, for a more immersive experience
  • Information about the image can be accessed easily
  • Images can be shown in full-screen mode
  • Images in a collection can be browsed easily

Workflow[edit | edit source]

The thumbnails to the right show the reader workflow we are looking to support:

  • Overview of reader workflows (shown above for reference)
  • Proposed workflow for viewing images with Media Viewer

New Improvements[edit | edit source]

The Wikimedia Foundation's multimedia team is testing and developing a range of new improvements, based on usability research and community feedback.

Here are screenshots showing what these improvements look like, from the updated Media Viewer prototype.

"Chamonix flowers photo" by Fabrice Florin (via Flickr). Licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Lightbox View[edit | edit source]

Media viewer mockup: Lightbox view
Lightbox view - Metadata panel

Media Viewer provides two different views of an image when you click on its thumbnail on an article page: Lightbox and Full-screen View. The 'Lightbox view' for this tool is described below.

Image[edit | edit source]

The image is shown in large size against a black background, as an overlay that fills up the entire browser page where you clicked on the thumbnail. This makes the image stand out more and removes some of the visual clutter typically found on a text-heavy page.

In the image view, the browser window will be obscured to hide its contents, but not the entire screen (unlike the Full-screen view where the entire screen will be darkened).

Tools[edit | edit source]

In this v0.2 release, these tools are provided:

  • Close button (goes back to article view)
  • Full screen button (expands into full-screen view)
  • Next and Previous arrows (to browse through related images)

Primary Info[edit | edit source]

Here are the most important information fields that will be shown prominently near the image, as shown in the first version of this tool (see mockup):

  • File name (Zonotrichia atricapilla)
  • Author (e.g. Alejandro Erickson)
  • Source (e.g. Bird Institute)
  • License Info (e.g. CC-BY-SA-2.0) (or link to license info)
  • Chevron icon for opening the metadata panel to reveal more info (see below)

The first mockup to the right shows how this information would be presented to the user, to minimize clutter near the image, but still keep important metadata as prominent as possible. Please click on the specific features above to see the latest mockups and specifications.

Secondary Info[edit | edit source]

Here is the information that is shown below the fold, once you open the metadata panel (by clicking on the chevron or scrolling):

  • Description
  • Site name and link (e.g. 'Learn more on Wikimedia Commons')
  • Uploader name (e.g. Smallbones)
  • Creation Date (e.g. 12 April, 2012)
  • Location (e.g. place name and/or geotag coordinates, if any)
  • Categories (e.g. Birds of British Columbia, Zonotrichia atricapilla … more> )
  • File usage (e.g. 'This file is being used by 5 other pages. <See all>')
  • Permissions (e.g. special credits or restrictions)
  • Assessment credit (e.g. '<Featured Picture>')
  • More meta-data may be added to this panel over time, as proposed below
  • File format / size (e.g. JPEG, 4928 x 3264 px (more), 3.8 Mb)
  • Tool used for upload (e.g. 'Via Flickr')

The second mockup to the right shows how this information would be presented to the user, to minimize clutter near the image, but still keep important metadata as prominent as possible. Please click on the specific features above to see the latest mockups and specifications.

Full-screen View[edit | edit source]

Full-screen view - Media viewer mockup

The 'full-screen view' for this tool will show a large image across the entire screen, with minimal information and buttons available on hover. This is the view that lets you focus exclusively on the image, with no other distractions.

Full image[edit | edit source]

When you click on the full screen icon, you see the largest version of the image that fits within the user's entire screen (not just the browser window).

Information[edit | edit source]

In this mode, you only see the controls, the file name and the author/source/license if you hover over the image.

If desired by users, it may be possible to include more information below the image, available by scrolling down.

New Tools[edit | edit source]

Metadata panel with license
Improved 'Use this file tool'

We are now working on these new tools and features for version v0.2:

We're also working on a range of other features such as faster image load and better user interface. We invite you to test and discuss features in development, so we can improve them based on your feedback. Please join this discussion about Media Viewer, where new features are regularly listed. We would love it if you could try the ones labeled ‘ready for testing’. You can also review our specifications for features that are ‘coming soon’ — and hope you can help test them as well later this month (we release new code every Thursday).

Current Release[edit | edit source]

Media Viewer 0.2 is being gradually released worldwide. This deployment started with limited tests on a few pilot sites in April 2014, then wider releases in May 2014. Media Viewer is now scheduled to be released on all wikis by mid-June, as described in this release plan.

To prepare for this release, we invite you to test the latest version on this demo page on or on your home wiki. If your site has not yet enabled Media Viewer by default, you can enable it as a Beta feature in your preferences), as outlined in the next section. Learn more in this help page.

How can I help?[edit | edit source]


Can you help test Media Viewer in coming days? You can try the latest version on this demo page on, or test earlier versions on your home wiki.

If Media Viewer has not yet been enabled by default on your wiki, you can test it as a Beta Feature: click on the small 'Beta' link next to 'Preferences' in your personal menu. Then check the box next to 'Media Viewer' in the Beta Features section of your user preferences — and click 'Save' (see screenshot). You can turn off this option anytime, by reversing these steps. Learn more in this help page.

After you've tried Media Viewer, please let us know what you think on this discussion page. If you find any technical bugs, please report them here on Bugzilla.

Try out Media Viewer and let us know what you think on this discussion page. If you find any technical bugs, please report them here on Bugzilla.

Tens of thousands of beta testers have now tried Media Viewer around the world. Here is an overview of the feedback they have kindly given us to help improve this tool. Many of their suggestions have been implemented (or are about to), as part of our current release plan.

Note: in this current release, the Media Viewer will only support the most widely used image file formats (e.g.: JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, SVG). In future releases, we plan to add support for more file formats, such as PDF, audio and video files. See the next section.

Next Versions[edit | edit source]

The next version of Media Viewer will support video, audio and other file formats.

The next version 0.3 of Media Viewer will focus on zooming on large images and adding more features requested by our community. And version 0.4 will support more file formats (e.g. slides, video, audio). For an overview of what we're considering for these future versions, check our 2016 multimedia vision, as well as our annual plan for multimedia in 2014-15.

Here are some features we are considering for future versions:

A consistent user interface will be provided for time-based and audio-video playback tools above (play/pause, rewind, volume, timeline). In future versions, we plan to provide more feedback tools below the image (e.g. thank, flag), as suggested by best practices from other media sites. We will also start working on mobile versions of the Media Viewer, in collaboration with the mobile team.

Desktop Mockups[edit | edit source]

Here are some preliminary mockups of designs we're exploring for desktop computers.

These mockups will be adjusted based on community feedback.

Future releases[edit | edit source]

For future releases beyond this fiscal year, we are considering these features:

  • Watchlist (add this file to your watchlist)
  • Thanks (send notification to uploader to show appreciation, through notifications)
  • Flag (reports this file as inappropriate on Commons)
  • Tag (tag this file with a new category, geolocation or intersecting tags)
  • Related files button (show thumbnails of files in same gallery/category)
  • Add Category button (for categorizing files in Media Viewer)
  • Discussion button? (goes to Commons talk page)
  • Edit button? (goes to Commons edit page)

These tools would help users take action on the media they are viewing. For example, a user might want to add a file to their watchlist, or thank the person who uploaded the file, flag a file as inappropriate, tag it with a new category, etc. These tools could be offered in a toolbar below the image, or further down in the metadata panel.

Feedback[edit | edit source]

Here is some of the feedback we have received about Media Viewer since its deployment in early November. We have already implemented or are working on many of these recommendations (see Tasks below) and will update this section again based on feedback received after the global deployment of Media Viewer 2.0.

Favorable Responses[edit | edit source]

  • Very clean and useful! (Kelvinsong)
  • [Glad you're working on] a better media viewer. (Amada44)
  • I is nice I can enlarge thumbnails wihtout having to go to another page. (Arcane21, Cornel24)
  • I like that I can see all the most relevant information about the image in 1 page only and the graphic display. (Daniele Pugliesi)

Unfavorable Responses[edit | edit source]

  • I preferred the old method of displaying images (Media Viewer Survey response)
  • this will reduce the knowledge of readers about how the wikipedia works (Media Viewer Survey response)
  • The new viewer is less useful than the old one. (Media Viewer Survey response)
  • I really prefer a simplistic system rather than a flashy js / css based approach. (Media Viewer Survey response)
  • This 'experience' is highly annoying! (Media Viewer Survey response)
  • Bloody awful. One extra screen to get through. Wish it were abandoned (Media Viewer Survey response)

Some of the more intense responses contained profanity.

Recommendations for improvement[edit | edit source]

  • Performance
    • Really slow -- slower than loading the file page. (Mono, Arcane21, Ragesoss, Another Believer, Daniele Pugliesi, Cornel24, Holger1959)
  • Style and layout
    • The transparent background against the file information is distracting. I would prefer that the text have an opaque background -- preferably darker. (Ragesoss, Another Believer, equazcion, Daniele Pugliesi, Cornel24, Kelvinsong, Daniele Pugliesi)
    • 'Use This File' popup could be prettier. (Kelvinsong)
    • Smiley face in front of 'Uploaded by' is confusing, should use an arrow instead (Ainali, Daniele Pugliesi)
    • I expected the closing X on the top right position, not left (Barcex, Raymond, Gryllida)
    • Image size
      • Zooming would be useful. There is no obvious interface for getting to a larger version or the original media file. (FocalPoint, Daniele Pugliesi, Michael Z.)
      • Quicklinks to other image sizes are a must. (MarkJurgens, Daniele Pugliesi, Elitre)
      • I'd make the initial view/popup show a larger image size. (MarkJurgens, Daniele Pugliesi, Frank Schulenburg)
    • The file information should be balanced centrally with the image, instead of jutting to the left. (Ragesoss)
    • Add more clearly visible link to file info. (Gryllida)
  • Text, interface, content
    • Integrate 'Use this File' link -- to attribute files correctly, with a quick summary of author, source and license. (Amada44, Elitre, Church of emacs, Rsocol)
    • "Use this file" menu should have the option to "copy to clipboard" to be used together with the VisualEditor. (Micru)
    • Add left and right arrows to navigate to other media in the article. (Micru, Daniele Pugliesi)
    • It could be nice to see a slideshow of the images in the same Commons category or in the same Wikipedia page. (Daniele Pugliesi)
    • 'Created by' date above the uploader name is confusing for old images (Ainali)
  • Bugs
    • Each field has its own issues mostly due large variety of Commons:Infoboxes and how they are used. Here are detailed recommendations for each (Jarekt, Elitre)
    • Support for multiple page documents (Djvu, PDF, PPT, etc). (Micru, Gryllida)
    • While supporting multiple page djvu, to implement a tool to copy into clipboard with a click from displayed djvu page: (1) pure text layer, (2) lisp-like mapped text layer structure at line or word detail, (3) xml mapped text-layer (Alex brollo)
    • While supporting multiple page djvu, to implement a tool to crop and download illustrations (as jpg or png) from image djvu layer of current page (Alex brollo)
  • Simply adjust the settings in preferences (appearance / file) for quick viewing … for a result better and faster than what is proposed by this beta. (Archaeodontosaurus)

Based on this feedback, development tasks for Media Viewer are regularly added to the Multimedia team's Mingle project management site.

Other Feedback[edit | edit source]

Four RfCs (Two in English Wikipedia, German Wikipedia, and Wikimedia) were initiated, the response of which overwhelmingly indicated that contributors, both regular and occasional, believe that the "Media Viewer" should be disabled by default for all users, logged-in or not, and either left as an opt-in feature or scrapped altogether. Aside from any technical shortcomings, discontent was also shown with the manner in which the project was conducted and the lack of transparency shown by the team responsible. These RfCs typically involved up to a couple hundred editors at a time, with very low participation from readers, the target users for this product.

To get user feedback about Media Viewer, the Wikimedia Foundation ran a global survey in multiple languages from April to July 2014. A majority of global respondents found the tool "useful for viewing images and learning about them" (56% "useful", 35% "not useful", 9% "not sure", based on 18,199 global responses). Readers tended to view the tool more favorably (65% found it "useful") than advanced users. These approval ratings increased over time in all languages, suggesting that users found Media Viewer more useful for viewing images over time, as new improvements were developed based on user feedback. Note that this was an optional survey, so approval rates should not be cited as a conclusive metric, as they are subject to self-selection bias (just like RfCs). But they provide useful information to complement the RfC results above.

Code[edit | edit source]

Our work in progress can be viewed on this beta site, where new features are rolled out all the time (you'll need to create a test account to log-in and use the Beta Features preference, as described in the 'How can I help' section above.)

The code for Media Viewer is made possible by two separate extensions:

More Info[edit | edit source]

For a shorter description of this tool, visit this project overview page.

This feature was designed in collaboration with community members like you, through a series of discussions held over video conferences, IRC, and in person at Wikimania.

Media Viewer was brought to you by many Wikimedia Foundation team members, including: Fabrice Florin, Gilles Dubuc, Mark Holmquist, Gergő Tisza, Pau Giner, Jared Zimmerman, May Galloway, Brian Wolff, Bryan Davis, Keegan Peterzell, Rob Lanphier, Erik Moeller, Howie Fung and Tomasz Finc, to name but a few.

To learn more about other multimedia projects we're working on, visit this Multimedia project hub.