- This content is prepared for inclusion in the March 2014 Wikimedia Foundation report. It is a shorter and simpler version of the full Wikimedia engineering report for March 2014 that does not assume specialized technical knowledge.
Major news in March include:
- an overview of webfonts, and the advantages and challenges of using them on Wikimedia sites;
- a series of essays written by Google Code-in students who shared their impressions, frustrations and surprises as they discovered the Wikimedia and MediaWiki technical community;
- Hovercards now available as a Beta feature on all Wikimedia wikis, allowing readers to see a short summary of an article just by hovering a link;
- a subtle typography change across Wikimedia sites for better readability, consistency and accessibility;
- a recap of the upgrade and migration of our bug tracking software.
In March, the VisualEditor team continued their work on improving the stability and performance of this visual tool to edit wiki pages. They also added some new features and simplifications, helping users edit and create pages more swiftly and easily. Editing templates is now much simpler, moving most of the advanced controls that users don't often need into a special version of that window. The media dialog was improved and stream-lined to make it clearer what the controls are for. The overall design of dialogs and controls was improved to make it flow better, like double-clicking a block to open its dialog. A new system for quickly and simply inserting and editing "citations" (references based on templates) neared completion and will be enabled in the coming month.
The Parsoid team continued with a lot of bug fixing and tweaking of this parsing program that converts wikitext to annotated HTML, behind the scenes of VisualEditor. Media and image handling in particular was improved. In the process, we discovered a lot of edge cases and inconsistent behavior in the PHP parser, and fixed some of those issues there as well.
We revamped our round-trip test server interface that compares the wikitext code of a page before and after it's been converted into annotated HTML, and back into wikitext. We fixed some issues in the round-trip test system, and improved our error logging system.
We also designed and implemented a HTML templating library which combines correctness, security and performance. This will notably be used to evaluate HTML templating for translation messages and eventually wiki content.
This month the Core Features team focused on improvements to how the new Flow discussion system works with key MediaWiki tools and processes. We made changes to the history, watchlist, and recent changes views, adding more context and bringing them more in line with what experienced users expect from these features. We released a thank feature in Flow, allowing users to thank each other for posts, and began work on a feature to close and summarize discussions. Lastly, we continued work on rewriting the Flow interface to make it cleaner, faster, and more responsive across a wide number of browsers/devices.
In March, the Growth team primarily focused on bug fixing, design enhancements, and refactoring of the GettingStarted and GuidedTour extensions, which were recently launched on 30 Wikipedias. We updated icons and button styles, rewrote the interface text, and refactored the interface to be more usable in non-English languages. We also began to refactor of the GuidedTour API, in order to support interactive tours that are non-linear. Non-linear tours will not depend on a page load to run, which will notably enable better support for tours in VisualEditor. Last but not least, we made progress on measuring the impact of GettingStarted across all wikis where it is deployed, with results for the first 30 days of editor activity expected in early April.
The Wikimedia Apps team worked on logged-out editing to logged-in editing, and table of contents refinements.
The Mobile web projects team worked on the link inspector for VisualEditor on tablets, and a switch between VisualEditor and wikitext on tablets. Both are in alpha.
During the last month, with the assistance of the Operations and Platform teams, the Wikipedia Zero team set up the upcoming Partners Portal and continued work on reducing image size for the mobile web. Additionally, the team added Wikipedia Zero detection to the Wikipedia for Firefox OS app, as well as contributory features support for users on partner networks supporting zero-rated secure connections. With the assistance of the Apps team, new features were added to the forthcoming reboots of the Android and iOS apps; proof of concept for full-text search was started on iOS.
Smart, the largest mobile operator in the Philippines, is giving access to Wikipedia free of data charges through the end of April. We arranged a meeting with local community members and Smart to explore ways to collaborate in support of education. The partnerships team started to review the 27 existing Wikipedia Zero partners, to update the implementation, identify opportunities for collaboration in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and get feedback on the program. The account reviews will continue for the next few months.