[Wikimedia-l] Alpha version of the VisualEditor now available on the English Wikipedia

Liam Wyatt liamwyatt at gmail.com
Wed Dec 12 03:55:09 UTC 2012

I just made my first, very minor, edit using the Visual Editor alpha. I
feel paraphrasing Neil Armstrong is appropriate here:
This is one small edit for a Wikipedian, one giant leap for Wikimedia.

My most enthusiastic congratulations James and the whole team working on
this project. We all know it has been needed for so very long, and to
actually get to the stage where a user can make a change to a real article
on a live wiki is such a hugely significant milestone.

Notwithstanding the many restrictions and outstanding problems that you
identified in your announcements, I suspect that this is probably the most
significant single advance in MediaWiki since.... ever? The cumulative
effect of the thousands of large (and small) changes to the system over the
years have build a wonderfully clever and versatile platform, but I feel
pretty sure that, if you had to identify a single project, Visual Editor is
going to make more difference to the future of Wikimedia than anything

Well done so far, and keep up the good work in the weeks and months to come!

Peace, love & metadata

On 12 December 2012 03:30, James Forrester <jforrester at wikimedia.org> wrote:

> TL;DR: Today we are launching an alpha, opt-in version of the
> VisualEditor[0] to the English Wikipedia. This will let editors create
> and modify real articles visually, using a new system where the
> articles they edit will look the same as when you read them, and their
> changes show up as they type enter them — like writing a document in a
> word processor. Please let us know what you think[1].
> Why launch now?
> We want our community of existing editors to get an idea of what the
> VisualEditor will look like in the “real world” and start to give us
> feedback about how well it integrates with how they edit right now,
> and their thoughts on what aspects are the priorities in the coming
> months.
> The editor is at an early stage and is still missing significant
> functions, which we will address in the coming months. Because of
> this, we are mostly looking for feedback from experienced editors at
> this point, because the editor is insufficient to really give them a
> proper experience of editing. We don’t want to promise an easier
> editing experience to new editors before it is ready.
> As we develop improvements, they will be pushed every fortnight to the
> wikis, allowing you to give us feedback[1] as we go and tell us what
> next you want us to work on.
> How can I try it out?
> The VisualEditor is now available to all logged-in accounts on the
> English Wikipedia as a new preference, switched off by default. If you
> go to your “Preferences” screen and click into the “Editing” section,
> it will have as an option labelled “Enable VisualEditor”).
> Once enabled, for each article you can edit, you will get a second
> editor tab labelled “VisualEditor” next to the “Edit” tab. If you
> click this, after a little pause you will enter the VisualEditor. From
> here, you can play around, edit and save real articles and get an idea
> of what it will be like when complete.
> At this early stage in our development, we recommend that after saving
> any edits, you check whether they broke anything. All edits made with
> the VisualEditor will show up in articles’ history tabs with a
> “VisualEditor” tag next to them, so you can track what is happening.
> Things to note
> Slow to load - It will take some time for long complex pages to load
> into the VisualEditor, and particularly-big ones may timeout after 60
> seconds. This is because pages have to be loaded through Parsoid which
> is also in its early stages, and is not yet optimised for deployment
> and is currently uncached. In the future (a) Parsoid itself will be
> much faster, (b) Parsoid will not depend on as many slow API calls,
> and (c) it will be cached.
> Odd-looking - we currently struggle with making the HTML we produce
> look like you are used to seeing, so styling and so on may look a
> little (or even very) odd. This hasn't been our priority to date, as
> our focus has been on making sure we don't disrupt articles with the
> VisualEditor by altering the wikitext (correct "round-tripping").
> No editing references or templates - Blocks of content that we cannot
> yet handle are uneditable; this is mostly references and templates
> like infoboxes. Instead, when you mouse over them, they will be
> hatched out and a tooltip will inform you that they have to be edited
> via wikitext for now. You can select these items and delete them
> entirely, however there is not yet a way to add ones in or edit them
> currently (this will be a core piece of work post-December).
> Incomplete editing - Some elements of "complex" formatting will
> display and let you edit their contents, but not let users edit their
> structure or add new entries - such as tables or definition lists.
> This area of work will also be one of our priorities post-December.
> No categories - Articles' "meta" items will not appear at all -
> categories, langlinks, magic words etc.; these are preserved (so
> editing won't disrupt them), but they not yet editable. Another area
> for work post-December - our current plan is that they will be edited
> through a "metadata flyout", with auto-suggestions and so on.
> Poor browser support - Right now, we have only got VisualEditor to
> work in the most modern versions of Firefox, Chrome and Safari. We
> will find a way to support (at least) Internet Explorer post-December,
> but it's going to be a significant piece of work and we have failed to
> get it ready for now.
> Articles and User pages only - The VisualEditor will only be enabled
> for the article and user namespaces (so you can make changes in a
> personal sandbox), and will not work with talk pages, templates,
> categories, etc.. In time, we will build out the kinds of specialised
> editing tools needed for non-articles, but our focus has been on
> articles.
> Final point
> This is not the final form of the VisualEditor in lots of different
> ways. We know of a number of bugs, and we expect you to find more. We
> do not recommend people trying to use the VisualEditor for their
> regular editing yet. We would love your feedback on what we have done
> so far – whether it’s a problem you discovered, an aspect that you
> find confusing, what area you think we should work on next, or
> anything else, please do let us know.[1]
> [0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:VisualEditor
> [1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:VisualEditor/Feedback
> Yours,
> --
> James D. Forrester
> Product Manager, VisualEditor
> Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
> jforrester at wikimedia.org | @jdforrester
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