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Abstract Wikipedia/Updates/2023-01-25

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Thank you, Google.org fellows!


In April, we shared with great happiness that Google.org were supporting the development of Abstract Wikipedia and Wikifunctions with a generous fellowship program. Six fellows joined us in April and May, and three fellows joined us in July. Each fellow stayed with the team for half a year. We thanked the first round of fellows in October, and this week we are sad to see the last fellow leave. It is time to thank them and appreciate their achievements.

Sandy Woodruff joined the team as a designer during a crucial period. We just were on-boarding our new designer, Amin al Hazwani, so both Sandy and Amin collaborated closely on defining and refining the use cases for Wikifunctions, how Wikifunctions will be used, and how to educate users about the ability of our new project. Sandy wrote a goodbye letter, describing her work on the project. Thank you Sandy for great contributions which we are going to use as a reference in the years to come!

When Dani de Waal and Edmund Wright joined us, our front end was in major disarray. We just were changing our data model to support Benjamin arrays, and as the changes propagated through the system, many of our workflows were broken. Dani and Edmund identified the instability of our project as a major blocker, and started developing comprehensive front end tests, which were a major factor leading up to the release of our Beta in time for Wikimania 2022. Dani and Edmund continued working on the front end as well as other parts of the system, and were improving numerous elements and creating whole new components from scratch. They were both speeding up the velocity of the front end development, and we are very saddened to see them go.

Thank you!

It was a pleasure to work with Sandy, Dani, and Edmund. Thank you for your great work, and we hope that our paths will cross again.

Good bye, Mariya!


Mariya Shilova joined us more than a year ago as Senior Technical Program Manager, and her work positively transformed the Abstract Wikipedia and Wikifunctions team. She accompanied us through months of turbulent changes, with the on-boarding and changing of team members, and during the time of the Google.org fellowship. The whole team is hugely thankful for her support and the improvements in process she had led. She also was the main organizer of our first (and so far only) in-person team off-site in May 2022. We are happy that Mariya will continue to work with the Wikimedia Foundation by supporting other teams. Thank you, Mariya, and expect to be invited to the (virtual) launch party!

Between the Brackets podcast episode with Ariel Gutman


Yaron Koren interviewed Google.org fellow Ariel Gutman as part of his podcast “Between the Brackets” in Episode 130. Ariel wrote a goodbye letter as his fellowship ended, and was also one of the co-authors of the fellows’ evaluation mentioned in the same update. Yaron and Ariel had an interesting discussion about the feasibility of an abstract language, the goals of Abstract Wikipedia, and the evaluation. The episode is 91 minutes long, and follows previous episodes on Abstract Wikipedia and Wikifunctions. Thanks to Yaron Koren for the continuous coverage!

Waldir Pimenta took and published notes about the episode.

Development update (as of January 20, 2023)

  • This week we closed Goal 4 (Implementing the Function view) of the current Phase of work. The last tasks that were identified last week have been implemented and all changes are live on Wikifunctions Beta. Functions are now considerably easier to view, edit, and create than they have been before. The results have also been featured with screenshots in last week’s newsletter. Congratulations to the team!
  • The Experience workstream is now working on Goal 5 (Implementing the default view), working on the atomic components that will make up the whole experience (such as strings and references). We are also identifying the components that need updates in preparation of the work for Goal 9 (Updating the other components once Goal 5 has landed).
  • In Goal 3 (Meta-data), the major patch that has been in the work for months has landed. This stores the meta-data about the test runs of the implementations. Having this data available allows Wikifunctions users to understand the performance characteristics of the different implementations. The final step for this Goal is to have the system use this stored meta-data to make a smarter decision about which implementation to use, which will also close this Goal.
  • This week, we had the first ever public meeting of the natural language generation workstream. The meeting was well attended, with eight volunteers and three staff members. We had two presentations, one on Ninai/Udiron, an NLG system developed by a volunteer for Abstract Wikipedia, the other on Grammatical Framework and the work going into it to fit with the requirements of Abstract Wikipedia. We also had further discussions.