[Foundation-l] Big problem to solve: good WYSIWYG on WMF wikis

Stephanie Daugherty sdaugherty at gmail.com
Tue Dec 28 23:24:19 UTC 2010

On Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 5:17 PM, Samuel Klein <meta.sj at gmail.com> wrote:

> Stephanie writes:
> > Layouts would be a new form of template, designed to apply as a
> > block-level outline to an article, providing both a framework to build a
> > particular type of article, and defining the formatting for that article
> in
> > a manner that templates and article markup would no longer be permitted
> to
> > do. It's likely that layouts would be treated like highly used templates
> and
> < the interface itself... one to an article, so the interface to
> select one would
> > probably be just selecting it from a dropdown or typing it's name.
> I really like the idea of separating article text, local templates,
> and page-wide layout.  I don't know if 'three different paresers' are
> needed, but just being able to define a stylesheet for a named layout
> would save time and frustration.

I say 3 different parsers because the effort is as much about restricting
what wikitext can be used where as it is about simplifying the templates and
layouts, and breaking up the parser in this manner is a straightforward way
to keep "ugly" markup out of articlespace. If you make it so the complicated
code that would render an editor hopelessly broken can't directly appear in
an article, you keep the ability to use that code appropriately by template
transclusion. I suggested layouts as an extension of that concept, because
with layouts you can make it so HTML/CSS hacks that could negatively affect
formatting can be left to a process that is more likely to be tested -
there's no reason for every article to have it's own custom CSS positioning
and such - those decisions are better done at a site level where they can be
done consistently and with consideration for things like screen readers,
mobile devices, and print output, something that most editors don't even
need to understand.

The point is to "dumb down" the both the required interface and the
underlying by only having what you need to write articles available.
Advanced editors could continue to develop templates for structured data,
and collaborations between experts would do the really dicey stuff to make
the site look pretty.

The only (immediate) changes to templates required would be a little extra
"glue" to give a WYSIWYM or WYSIWYG editor "hints" about how a template
works - whether the template produces a block or an inline element, and what
parameters it takes so that the editor can display a nice easy to edit form
to fill those parameters while showing the user what they do.

Layouts would likely have a lot more bolted on to them than is currently
possible, because you actually want to define a structure for an article,
with editable regions - they'd likely be a cross between a stylesheet, a
DTD, and a template by the time we got done implementing them.

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