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

Stephanie Daugherty sdaugherty at gmail.com
Thu Dec 30 09:19:50 UTC 2010

Really good points. I still advocate moving the possibility for these
"ugly" constructs to templates, so that we keep all the magic tricks
we have now, but lose the ability to make an article that is "write
only" by littering it with code that only the wikigods and the parser
itself could decypher.

Well-formedness checks would be a huge step forward - if the edit form
could catch showstoppers like mismatched braces , brackets, quotes,
and even misused templates it would go a long way towards making the
site safe to edit.

As for all the deep magic, like parser functions, inline html, and the
like, why do we even need to allow the parser to recognize such
nonsense in article space. Treat templates as a special case and be
rid of just about everything thats not on the editing toolbar.

There will be some people upset that they cant turn an article into an
elaborate html and css work of art but they will get over it and go
back to writing articles, or if they didn't have any interest in doing
that they will go back to myspace. Either way net gain - article code
becomes readable and we promote the development and expansion of
freely available content, which is the real business we are in.

On 12/29/10, Brion Vibber <brion at pobox.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 5:28 PM, Rob Lanphier <robla at wikimedia.org> wrote:
>> Let me riff on what you're saying here (partly just to confirm that I
>> understand fully what you're saying).  It'd be very cool to have the
>> ability to declare a single article, or probably more helpfully, a
>> single revision of an article to use a completely different syntax.
> Yes, though I'd recommend jettisoning the word "syntax" entirely from the
> discussion at this stage, as I worry it distracts towards bikeshedding about
> unimportant details.
> Rather, it could be more useful to primarily think of data resources having
> "features" or "structure". With images for instance, we don't make people
> pay too much attention about whether something's in JPEG, PNG, GIF, or SVG
> format.
> At the level of actual people working with the system, the file's *format*
> is completely unimportant -- only its features and metadata are relevant.
> Set a size, give a caption, specify a page if it's a paged format, or a time
> if it's a video format. Is it TIFF or PDF? Ogg Theora or WebM? Don't know,
> don't care, and any time a user has to worry about it we've let them down.
> We need to think about similarly concentrating on document structure rather
> than markup syntax for text pages.
> I definitely agree that the idea of progressively moving bits and pieces in
> that direction is a wise one. If we can devise a *document structure* that
> lets us embed magic templatey _things_ into a paragraph-oriented-text
> document and maintain their structural identity all the way to browser-ready
> HTML and back, then we can have a useful migration path:
> * identify possibly unsafe uses of templates, extensions, and
> parserfunctions (machines are great at this!)
> * clean them up bit by bit (bots are often good at many common cases)
> * once a page can be confirmed as not using Weird Template Magic, but only
> using templates/images/plugins that fit within the structure, it's golden.
> * depending on which flavor of overlords we have, we might have various ways
> of enforcing that a page will always *remain* well-structured from then on.
> That might not even involve changing syntax per se -- we shouldn't care too
> much about whether italic is <i> or ''. But knowing where a table or a div
> block starts and ends reliably is extremely important to being able to tell
> which part of your document is which.
> And heck, even if not everything gets fixed along that kind of path, just
> being able to *have* pages and other resource types that *are*
> well-structured mixed into the system is going to be hugely useful for the
> non-Wikipedia projects.
> -- brion vibber (brion @ pobox.com)
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