Wikimedia Engineering/Report/2014/June/summary

This content is prepared for inclusion in the June 2014 Wikimedia Foundation report. It is a shorter and simpler version of the full Wikimedia engineering report for June 2014 that does not assume specialized technical knowledge.


Presentation slides about VisualEditor from the Editing team's quarterly review
Presentation slides from the Parsoid team's quarterly review

In June, the VisualEditor team continued to improve this visual tool to edit wiki pages. They provided a way to see the context of links and other items when you edit to make this easier, worked on the performance and stability of the editor so that users could more swiftly and reliably make changes to articles, and made some improvements to features focused on increasing their simplicity and understandability. The editor now shows with a highlight where dragging-and-dropping content will put it, and works for any content, not just for images. The citation and reference tools had some minor adjustments to guide the user on how they operate, based on feedback and user testing. A lot of fixes to issues with windows opening and closing, and especially the link editing tool, were made, alongside the save dialog, categories, the language editing tool, table styling, template display and highlights on selected items. The mobile version of VisualEditor, currently available for alpha testers, moved towards release, fixing a number of bugs and improving performance. Work to support languages made some significant gains, and work to support Internet Explorer continued. The new visual interface for writing TemplateData (structured template documentation) was enabled on the Catalan and Hebrew Wikipedias.

Work also continued on Parsoid, the parsing system that works behind the scenes of VisualEditor to convert wikitext to annotated HTML, and vice versa. The team continued with ongoing bug fixes and bi-weekly deployments; they notably worked on improving the parsing support for some table-handling edge cases, handling nowiki tags, and making the parsing faster. They also began work on supporting language converter markup.

The Parsoid team added CSS styling to the HTML code to bring Parsoid's HTML closer to what is produced by the PHP parser (used in MediaWiki). They continued to tweak the CSS based on rendering differences they found, and started work on generating visual diffs between screenshots of content rendered with the two methods. This initial proof-of-concept will serve as the basis of larger scale automated testing and identification of rendering diffs. Last, the LintTrap project (for the detection of broken wikitext) saw good progress and a demo application was made available.

Editor engagement

In June, the Flow team finished an architectural rewrite for the interface, to make it easier to update it in the future. The new feature in the latest release is the ability to sort topics on a Flow board. There are now two options for the order that topics appear on the board: you can see the most recently created threads at the top (the default), or the most recently updated threads. This new sorting option makes it easier to find the active conversations on the board.

We've also made a few changes to make Flow discussions easier to read, including a font size now consistent with other pages, dropdown menus now easier to read, and the use of the new button style and the WikiGlyphs webfont.

The Growth team completed analysis of its first round of A/B testing of signup invitations for anonymous editors on English, French, German, and Italian Wikipedias. Based on these results, the team prepared a second version to be A/B tested. Additionally, the team released a major refactor of the GuidedTour extension, as well as design enhancements like animations, a new way of drawing guider elements, updated button styles, and more. The team also launched GuidedTours on three new Wikipedias: Arabic, Norwegian, and Bengali.


Main Page of the English Wikipedia on the new Android app.

The Mobile Apps team released the new Android Wikipedia app and it is now available to be downloaded through the Google Play store on Android devices. Core features of the app include the ability to save pages for offline reading, a record of your browsing history, and the ability to edit either as a logged in user or anonymously. The app is the first mobile platform that allows anonymous editing. The app also supports Wikipedia Zero for participating mobile carriers. Additional work done this month includes the start of implementing night mode for the Android app (by popular demand), creating an onboarding experience which is to be refined and deployed in July, and numerous improvements to the edit workflow.

New appearance of the tablet-optimized mobile site.

The Mobile web team finished work on styling the mobile site to provide a better experience for tablet users. As of June 17, users on tablets are now redirected to the new tablet-optimized mobile; They were previously being sent to the desktop version of all Wikimedia projects. Early data suggests that this change had a positive impact on new user signup and new editor activation numbers. The team also continued work on VisualEditor features (the linking and citation dialogs) in preparation for releasing the option to edit via VisualEditor to tablet users in the next three months.

During the last month, the Wikipedia Zero team activated the new code for Wikipedia Zero, by replacing replaces one monolithic piece of software by multiple smaller tools. The JsonConfig extension, which allows a wiki-driven configuration system with data validation, received significant enhancements to make it more general for other use cases.

Additionally, the team enabled lower-quality thumbnails for a live in-house Wikipedia Zero operator configuration, and finished a basic version of Wikipedia Zero for the Android and iOS Wikipedia apps. The team also supported the Wikipedia apps development by improving the network connection management in Android and iOS, and with the Find in page feature for Android.

Wikipedia Zero was launched with Airtel in Bangladesh; this is the third Zero partner in Bangladesh, and the 34th launched partner overall. The team participated in the Wiki Indaba conference, the first event of its kind to be held in Africa. The event, organized by Wikimedia South Africa, brought together community members from Tunisia, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Malawi and South Africa. The attendees shared experiences and challenges to work in the region and formulated strategies to support and strengthen the movement's efforts across the continent. The team also met with local operators in South Africa, and operators and handset manufacturers in India.