Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Editing/Keep the lightweight text editor

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⬅ Back to Editing

  • Problem: A few days ago, the normal wikitext editor was decapitated of a lot of usability with the deletion of core tools from the software. It was said that the 2017 text editor should be used as an alternative, but it ain't. It's just some extension to the VE, and thus takes hours to load its heavy burden of clutter before you are able to edit anything. The good old text editor on the other hand is fast and furious, and has more than enough tools to edit anything, unless it gets ditched by some short-sighted devs.
  • Who would benefit: All power users that are used to their well-known tools to edit their thousands of articles, and those with no high-end machines and connections, that can't really use anything as cluttered as the VE and its derivates.
  • Proposed solution: Keep and maintain the good old editor, including the tools like toolbars and such.
  • More comments:
  • Phabricator tickets:
  • Proposer: Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 21:21, 8 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Note: This proposal originated from another, very richly discussed and widely supported wishlist-entry, which was most unfortunately discarded.


  • Sänger, for the record, when the 2006 wikitext editor was removed, editors were given the option to use either the 2010 or the 2017 wikitext editors. While the 2017 editor is, as you describe, based on Visual editor, the 2010 wikitext editor isn't. The 2010 wikitext editor is just as lightweight as the 2006 one, isn't based on Visual Editor in any way, and only differs slightly in the locations of buttons (buttons are larger, and some are located in subpanels such as "Advanced", "Special Characters", or "Cite"). To enable it, just choose "Enable the editing toolbar" in the "Editing" section of your preferences. --Ahecht (TALK
    ) 23:30, 8 November 2018 (UTC)
A) The editor is just the white window I just write in, the buttons and menus are not the editor, but tools for the usage of that editor. This proposal/wish is about the core of that, 2017 is no alternative, it's far too slow.
B) The 2006 toolbar and the 2010 toolbar are fine, but there was a collateral damage. And there was not any option, the toolbar above and the special character line beneath the editor simply vanished in thin air. Nobody was warned about that (except perhaps the nerds in some tech-news gibberish).
C) The 2010 is not es flexible ans adoptable as the 2006 I've been told by heavy users of it (I didn't customise it, but I believe those that did and need this). Those are the ones that should have been asked beforehand, whether they want something new or different, not just devs.
Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 23:47, 8 November 2018 (UTC)

It would be most helpful to first study the very richly discussed and widely supported original wishlist-entry, which has been first archived, then moved to the forum.

For the charinsert-part, there is a potentially reusable char-insert replacement in a nearly finished state on de:WP and currently under test on beta, discussion (in german) here. However, a global gadget to replace the one-click customizable toolbar is still dearly missed and the current workaround barely a band-aid. So, given that a rollback doesn't look like a realistic option anymore, it would be most welcome to code a global gadget that at least replicates, what was lost in close dialogue with not only nerds, but real authors. Best regards --Eloquenzministerium (talk) 00:20, 9 November 2018 (UTC)

  • Панель 2010 и 2017 года не являются полноценными заменами панели 2006 года! И проблема не в оформлении, хотя оно тоже дико не привычно. Они хуже: там много лишнего, а нужное трудно найти. Легче это нужное найти под окном редактирования, но самое главное есть в панели 2006 года.Авгур (talk) 03:13, 9 November 2018 (UTC)
Welcome to our russian-speaking friend, here's a machine-translation: "The panel of 2010 and 2017 are not full replacements of the panel of 2006! And the problem is not in the design, although it is also not wildly familiar. They are worse: there is a lot of superfluous, and the necessary is hard to find. It is easier to find what you need under the editing window, but the most important thing is in the 2006 panel"
Indeed. --Eloquenzministerium (talk) 10:17, 9 November 2018 (UTC)

The light-weight WikiEditor still exists (among the gazillions of other editor options that all need people to maintain them), I'd say? --AKlapper (WMF) (talk) 12:55, 9 November 2018 (UTC)

And people who maintain them is exactly the description of the WMF (and the software part of WMDE). That's the very essence of the pure existence, especially that of software dev employed by the WMF: To maintain the existing software according to the wishes if the content editors (in regard of editing interfaces, some can of course as well cater the readers wishes, but editors, i.e. the very core of the wikiverse, should have precedence). Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 16:35, 9 November 2018 (UTC)
Everyone, it would be helpful in this discussion area if we could just talk about what the technical need is, and not talk about the WMF/contributor relationships. That's obviously a long-standing and difficult concern, and it won't reach resolution here. We also don't need to get into comparisons of the 2006 vs 2010 vs 2017 editors. Sänger has posted a proposal with a specific techical request that the Community Tech team will investigate and address, if this proposal is voted up into the top 10. At that time, Community Tech will be able to figure out the best technical solution that will give the people who voted for the proposal the functionality that they need. -- DannyH (WMF) (talk) 17:33, 9 November 2018 (UTC)

Per some discussion at Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Editing/Put mw.toolbar back, this can already be done. While I don't know what the preference is called in other language, in English, go to the Editing tab in Preferences, uncheck the checkbox which says "Enable the editing toolbar (This is sometimes called the '2010 wikitext editor')". This proposal should be archived. --Izno (talk) 16:17, 10 November 2018 (UTC)

Unfortunately, the 2010 editor is much more memory consuming and significantly slower than the 2006 one. Maybe, there is some way to make it loading faster and consume less memory? Ankry (talk) 17:31, 10 November 2018 (UTC)
This proposal is not "re-add the toolbar" per the discussion at the other proposal. This proposal is "make the standard text area available", which it already is if you uncheck the preference. --Izno (talk) 18:25, 10 November 2018 (UTC)
This proposal is there as a security measure, as some really had the gall to mention the VE-extension, that is a nearly unusable time-hog, as an alterative to the light-weight editor. Thwe plain text editor is the core of heavy editing, and it's surround by a small amount of tools, like toolbars, CharInsert and such. With the deletion of one heavy used tool of this editor, and such making it nearly unusable for a lot of editors, the devs showed their contempt to this editor, and my fear was, that this is the first step of the deletion of the whole editor, because those non-editing devs that seem to run the place may have the impression, that the VE-extension is a viable alternative. It's not. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 22:45, 10 November 2018 (UTC)
I have seen multiple discussions come to the conclusion that the plain text area is what MediaWiki should ship by default, regardless of any toolbars or other editors. It's not going anywhere. --Izno (talk) 23:17, 11 November 2018 (UTC)

I would like to restore the historical context from the first, discarded wishlist entry. Then I will explore the scope of this wish and discuss current developments. I am writing this with no particular knowledge about the technical intricacies from the perspective of an experienced user eager to get the functionalities of a very productive editing toolset back.


Historical context[edit]

mw.toolbar was removed from core. As the rollout progressed, users all over the different language versions and sister projects were taken by surprise, because this move has not been discussed with the communities at large. As this function has existed for a very long time, many local customisations depended on it.

Let me quote some selected contributions from the initial wish, I've limited it to one message per community participating in the discussion:

... So I try to put it as straightforward as possible. With the accustomed preferences (I did not even know that it was an "editor") I got two things: the "toolbar" with the 11 grey buttons above and the list of special characters below. This was very comfortable. Suddenly I saw that none of both features appeared any more. A bug? No, obviously a feature. It was suddenly impossible to do an edit with, say, Scandinavian letters or German quotation marks. It was also impossible to sign an edit as accustomed. This happened at the same time and I understand that the reason why the special character list disappeared is that the toolbar was disabled. I am still convinced that that is the reason. I am not interested in information technology, software development or things like that. These things are simply tools for me, services that help me to write articles as a volunteer. I am not interested in inserting any lines in a, customizing any tool or anything like that. I need a simple way to use characters and symbols in different languages, no more but also no less. This is made extremely difficult by this change. When I had finally understood what happened, I tried to change my preferences to "enhanced editing toolbar". However, this is bad, it makes my editing more difficult, which is mainly due to the badly disposed special characters list. Then I saw that de:User:PerfektesChaos offered a solution for the special characters list. I inserted this in my and now this worked again and very fine (much, much better than CharInsert on the English Wikipedia). But it is not the right way to force any user to insert lines he doesn't understand in a page that he doesn't understand. That should be a simple standard preference! What I ask myself: Why is it necessary to annoy volunteers with such changes that make a lot of things worse for editing? Why do I have to look for people who program things that do nothing else than bringing back usability that in the first place had been destroyed by MediaWiki Developers?Mautpreller (talk) 20:09, 6 November 2018 (UTC)

A similar issue is also ongoing in French Wiktionary. After I read this thread, I made some tests and the panel with phonetic signs is broken, visible but the javascript used to include on click, and nothing happen now. So I tried Wikicode editor 2017 but plenty signs are missing, including the curved apostrophe used in French Wiktionary ’ and the IPA sign ʁ, used in French language transcription. So, now, it's more complicated to add pronounciation or to write a decent page in French Wiktionary. -- Noé (talk) 10:29, 7 November 2018 (UTC)

Few users is a big underestimation. At bgwiki 2/3 of the active editors were completely blocked for a day, the rest were busy to find javascript workarounds. We had an editor with 100k+ edits and 12 years of experience who was unable to sign in discussions. --Nk (talk) 16:25, 7 November 2018 (UTC)

I am writing in Russian, because I speak English only with the help of an autotranslator: "The Community Wishlist Survey" приглашало сообщать о пожеланиях сообщества, "над чем нужно работать в следующем году команде технической помощи сообществам «Фонда Викимедиа». Команда технической помощи сообществам сосредоточена на инструментах для опытных редакторов проектов Викимедиа." Но примерно в то же самое время отключают один из самых необходимых инструментов, с которым эти опытные редакторы могли работать. Вместо него подсовывая две абракадабры, уверяя что раз они новее, то они "лучше". Ха-ха, на это. И после этого заворачивается/сдается в архив самое популярное и самое нужное предложение по техническому улучшению (да всё остальное это просто ерунда) Ну и зачем тогда проводить этот квази-опрос, раз без него всем всё и так ясно? Или всё таки есть шанс на то, что википедии будет нормальная классическая [1] панель редактирования? (The translation = "The Community Wishlist Survey" invited us to report on the wishes of the community, "over what next year the Wikimedia Foundation technical assistance team needs to work on. The community technical support team focuses on tools for experienced Wikimedia project editors. "But at about the same time one of the most essential tools with which these experienced editors could work was disconnected. Instead, slipping two abracadabras, asserting that since they are newer, they “better.” Haha, for this. And after that the most popular and most needed proposal for technical improvement is wrapped / submitted to the archive (yes, everything else is just "ерунда") Well, then why do this quasi-survey, without Is everything clear to everyone? Or is there still a chance that the Wikipedia will be a normal classical editing panel?)Авгур (talk) 18:49, 8 November 2018 (UTC)

So what is this wish all about?[edit]

We would like what the removed core-code did back in form of a WikiMedia-wide selectable option, that would allow to restore the full functionality in an as backward-compatible as possible way to ease the re-integration.

On de:WP, subsquently to the rollout of the MW-version without mw.toolbar, unsurprisingly, that toolbar vanished. Our local version of the charinsert bar also depended on it and ceased to function.

For the special-character-insertion, it looks like for this part of the wish, the dev-team might simply have to add some finishing touches to the new version User:Perfektes Chaos is currently testing on the beta-wiki before it could be made available as the default install. It appears to be far superior with its language-choice-popup retaining the last choice of the user and the (not yet implemented) possibility, currently still under discussion, to have more than one of those bars visible at the same time. That would be especially helpful to authors working on a language version different from their current keyboard-layout, allowing them to keep several caracter-sets open, rather than switching painstakingly between two or more frequently needed sets of special caracters in the long list of the popup-menu.

The toolbar[edit]

On de:WP, user:DaB. brought a slightly different re-incarnation of the old toolbar back. There seems still some work to be done and it is unclear to me, if this implementation is a promising candidate to be used as the foundation for further development as it lacks the possibility to re-arrange the order of the buttons, which is quite an essential advantage of the old toolbar.

Concerning the toolbar in itself, I'd like to clear up a couple of things. It has been repeatedly suggested, that the old toolbar was obsoleted by its two more recent incarnations. A look at the initial wish paints a different picture. Many authors, in particular highly productive ones with long years of experience are not simply allergic to change, but, even after having tried out the two "modern" alternatives, have very convincing arguments, why the "old" toolbar is ergonomically and functionally superior to the newer ones and essential to the efficiency of their work.

The next generation toolbar added some useful functions, but also made the buttons a lot smaller and used completely different icons for the same functions. I do use this one in combination with DaB.s version currently, as they complement each other. It lacks some important functions and, due to the smaller icons, is not as comfortable to use for authors with less than perfect eyesight.

The most recent incarnation of the toolbar has an UI-design not really helpful for experienced authors frequently in need of advanced functions and lacks most of the one-click charm of its predecessors.


The full scope of functionality of the abolished function needs to be restored. Any additional feature should be discussed with the participation of all interested authors, not just devs, all over the wikiversum.

There is certainly room for improvement, for example, while retainig backward compatability, it would be a Good Thing™, to have talking button names additionally to the current one- or two-letter designators used to select and arrange the button-order. However, any unergonomic feature-creep, smaller icons etc. should be carefully avoided.

Hopefully this gives a helpful overview and helps understand the internationally supported need for these functions to return. Best regards --Eloquenzministerium (talk) 20:26, 12 November 2018 (UTC)