[Foundation-l] Why is the software out of reach of the community?

Brian Brian.Mingus at colorado.edu
Thu Jan 15 18:28:11 UTC 2009

The discussion to add a full-fledged programming language to MediaWiki is
yet another example of this. Rather than evaluate existing tools which allow
for user-interface extensibility, the developers would rather embed PHP
within PHP. This allows you to do a variety of things:

* Simulate the brain
* Write MediaWiki within MediaWiki
* Compute any function
* ...
* Write an enyclopedia?

Our neural simulator contains an embedded dynamic language called C^c. It is
interpreted C++. I assure you that it does not aid in usability. Our
software did not start to become truly usable until we tackled the issue of
user-extensible interfaces.

This issue has already been tackled in MediaWiki, and yet the solution to
all of our problems is claimed to be a well-designed embedded scripting
language. This is the largest possible hammer you could apply to the
problem. I can't see how it is a reasonable next step.

2009/1/15 Brian <Brian.Mingus at colorado.edu>

> Access to svn does not imply access to MediaWiki. Changes to MediaWiki have
> been almost entirely up to core developer discretion, and as I have
> demonstrated, 'consensus' has largely implied that they, and only they,
> thought the changes made Wikipedia better. The ideas are rarely presented to
> the community in a formal, well-designed demo format (as SMW has been, time
> and time again), and they are not evaluated for their usability. When a
> usability issue arises third party tools are not properly considered.
> Rather, they reinvent the wheel in an inferior manner.
> On Thu, Jan 15, 2009 at 11:07 AM, Denny Vrandečić <
> dvr at aifb.uni-karlsruhe.de> wrote:
>> That's pretty much exactly what Semantic MediaWiki offers.
>> SMW has developed a lot, since many of you saw it. By now, you may
>> * switch off inline queries if you are afraid they won't work fast enough
>> * get rid of the ugly syntax everyone is scared about (and simply hide
>> it all in templates by using the #declare function)
>> * have all that data sitting there inside the DB and export it in
>> standard data formats like RDF or JSON (ok, well, the last one is
>> *almost* finished)
>> We would be very much interested in having SMW tested on a labs machine
>> with a copy of a reasonably big Wikipedia (e.g. German).
>> And, just to take note to the title of this thread -- I never thought
>> and the developers never gave me the feeling that the software is out of
>> reach for the community. Access to SVN was swiftly granted, and both Tim
>> and Brion were always giving encouraging and valuable feedback to us.
>> Cheers,
>> denny
>> Magnus Manske wrote:
>> > On Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 9:57 AM, Nikola Smolenski <smolensk at eunet.yu>
>> wrote:
>> >> David Gerard wrote:
>> >>> The other useful thing that can be done with templates is to
>> >>> standardise the field names in them as much as possible per wiki.
>> >>>
>> >>> The reason? To enhance machine readability of data in them. People are
>> >> Another useful thing: after an article is parsed, write all the
>> >> templates it uses and their parameters in the database. Even if at
>> first
>> >> it isn't possible to read this data on Wikipedia, Toolserver could do
>> >> wonders with it :)
>> >
>> > People (including yours truly) have been asking for this for years...
>> >
>> > Magnus
>> >
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