October 2011 Coding Challenge/Mobile
Mobile Photo Upload Challenge
Of course, Mobile Wikipedia is great for learning about the things around you. But: We need pictures. Millions of people have phones. How can we take advantage of location and mobile cameras? Build an app, or extend the existing mobile gateway, to demonstrate your ideas.
Wikipedia's current primary mobile experience is through the mobile site. An extension to our software (MediaWiki) called "MobileFrontend" manages that experience. Once you've familiarized yourself with both MediaWiki and the MobileFrontend extension, as well as the API, it should be relatively straightforward to make changes.
If you're more comfortable in app development, our Android app (based on the Phonegap framework) is very easy to get into; see below.
Some questions to think about:
- What's the call to action for a Wikipedia user to upload photos? Is this part of the reader experience, or a separate experience?
- What can we do with location data to help surface which articles need images?
- How do we ensure that photos have some basic metadata and correct licensing info attached? See our UploadWizard as an example. Most mobile phone uploads should be much simpler as they will be the work of the person who has the phone.
Using the MediaWiki Upload API
Using Location APIs
GeoNames has a great API that allows you to pass in a latitude and a longitude and get back a long list of Wikipedia articles about nearby places. Here's an example query for that API. You can also read more about how GeoNames works at the GeoNames site.
You can also use the Wikipedia API to get further properties of these articles, e.g. which of them have images.
Mobile Application Development for Wikipedia
Easily prototype your ideas before you code
There is an open source iPhone app called WikiSnaps for uploading photographs to Wikimedia Commons.
General new developer resources
Becoming a MediaWiki hacker
Here's a good introduction on what's involved in becoming a MediaWiki hacker, including instructions for installing your own MediaWiki instance.
IRC is short for Internet Relay Chat, and open source developers talk on IRC all the time. The IRC Primer is a good overview of how IRC works. Friendly MediaWiki developers can be found on the #mediawiki channel on irc.freenode.net (web interface). If you are having difficulties figuring out how to write MediaWiki code, you can ask for help there. Be aware, though: if you want someone to help you, do some homework first. If the answer to your question can be found easily by typing the question into Google, you might not want to ask it on IRC.
Mailing list: wikitech-l
If someone isn't immediately available to help you on IRC, you can also join the wikitech-l mailing list and ask questions there. The same rules for asking questions on IRC apply for asking questions on mailing lists.
Coding conventions are extremely important in the MediaWiki universe. Read them and understand them. If you do not conform to them, your chances of winning go down significantly.
Here's a useful pre-commit checklist. Before you decide that your submission is final, go through this checklist. You'll be glad you did.
Security for developers
Wikipedia gets half a billion visits every month, so good security practices are extremely important. Be sure to review the security documentation for Mediawiki developers.
Because Wikipedia is viewed by so many users, browser compatibility matters. (Remember: 0.1% of 500 million users is still half a million users.) Your new code may not work on every browser, but you must not break older browsers, either. Be sure to familiarize yourself with Wikipedia's browser compatibility policy.