IRC office hours/Office hours 2014-04-19

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Chat on VisualEditor
Saturday 19 April 2014
2000 - 2100 UTC

[20:00:29] <Maggie_Dennis> Hello, everyone, and welcome to the April VisualEditor office hour. :) We have with us James_F, James Forrester, the product manager, to answer any questions you may have.
[20:00:37] <James_F> Hey everyone.
[20:00:50] <Keegan> hi
[20:00:55] <Maggie_Dennis> Hi, Keegan. :)
[20:00:58] <MartijnH> o/
[20:01:07] <Maggie_Dennis> Hi, MartijnH. :)
[20:01:31] <Maggie_Dennis> Anyone have any questions to start off with? I have a few from people who could not attend, but we like to give people a chance to ask in person first. :)
[20:02:08] <MartijnH> not in particular, other than the "where are we, where are we going, and what is the near future going to look like"
[20:02:29] <James_F> Sure.
[20:02:33] <James_F> OK, I'll give a quick update.
[20:02:55] <rippitippi> hi james
[20:03:04] <James_F> Right now, VisualEditor is available on 300 public WMF-hosted community wikis (and a few private ones).
[20:03:26] <James_F> The latest two were Meta and French Wikinews, enabled per community request this last week.
[20:04:04] <MartijnH> oh, that's positively good news
[20:04:05] <Maggie_Dennis> Hi, rippitippi. :)
[20:04:33] <James_F> Of those 300, I think ~170 have VisualEditor on by default for all users including anonymous/logged-out ones; for the other 130, logged-in users can opt-in to having VisualEditor through Beta Features (the "beta" link at the top right of the page in "personal tools", or top left on RTL wikis).
[20:04:51] <rippitippi> hi maggie
[20:05:10] <James_F> Most of the Wikipedia wikis were VisualEditor is not "on by default" are because VisualEditor isn't ready for them yet.
[20:05:37] <James_F> Broadly these split into "Phase 5" languages like Welsh, which need a good character inserter as users don't have keyboards sufficient to type in them.
[20:06:48] <James_F> … "Phase 6" languages like Bengali which need to use special software (Input Method Editors, or IMEs) to write their characters, and VisualEditor isn't tested enough to work with them yet.
[20:06:57] <MartijnH> and where they'd rather skin you alive than have it on by default ;)
[20:07:24] <James_F> … and "Phase 7" languages like Chinese which use the language variants system that neither VisualEditor nor Parsoid support at all, and so we need to fix that first.
[20:07:56] <James_F> Yes, and then there are four wikis which don't yet have VisualEditor on by default (or again don't), per community request – English, German, Dutch and Spanish.
[20:08:26] <Krenair> Do we have a list of each of those phases?
[20:08:29] <James_F> (This is talking about desktop VisualEditor; VisualEditor on mobile is being worked on separately, and is in alpha right now.)
[20:08:41] <James_F> Krenair: Yes, sorry – is the list.
[20:09:19] <James_F> So that discusses "deployment", but a more interesting question is "what can I do with VisualEditor?".
[20:09:59] <James_F> Broadly, the goal of VisualEditor is to be a better way to edit all content pages for everyone - it's not just for newbies who have yet to learn wikitext.
[20:10:39] <James_F> Our focus to date has been on "broad brush" support for key editing tools like text entry and styling, paragraph formatting, references, templates and images.
[20:11:10] <James_F> We've done a few simple tools on other issues like mathematical formulæ editing, but mainly we want to make the major jobs of editing easier.
[20:11:35] <James_F> More specialised kinds of tools are definitely in scope, but are further back down our roadmap.
[20:11:56] <James_F> Speaking of, is probably helpful (and comments are always welcome).
[20:12:30] <James_F> The really big thing we've been working on recently has been a proper citation entry system, based on the community gadgets on a few wikis.
[20:13:06] <James_F> This will allow editors to quickly and simply add citations (references based around templates), guided to fill in enough details to be useful edits.
[20:13:20] <James_F> Details here:
[20:14:06] <James_F> The first version of this is pretty-much done; we're working to put the final touches on it based on feedback that we've received and the results of user testing.
[20:14:08] <MartijnH> isn't that terribly wiki-dependent, or are you looking to have global citation templates
[20:14:16] <MartijnH> or a pluggable backend or something?
[20:14:47] <James_F> It's very wiki-dependent, yes, so it will need each wiki's admins to configure it to use the citation templates your community want to display.
[20:15:15] <James_F> For enwiki, that's probably going to be {{cite web}}, {{cite book}}, {{cite news}} and {{cite journal}} or similar; each wiki will have to decide what they want.
[20:15:22] <MartijnH> ah, yes, that's what I meant by "pluggable backend"
[20:16:13] <James_F> This will be via an on-wiki MediaWiki: namespace message, so hopefully we won't be in the way of the community configuring it as they wish (or leaving it unused, if they prefer).
[20:16:23] <James_F> The first version is "dumb" in that it can't auto-fill results based on data, but that's the next thing we want to work on.
[20:16:51] <James_F> Specifically, filling in the rest of the template based on ISBNs and DOIs, and possibly other things like by URL.
[20:17:34] <James_F> This also relies on these citation templates correctly being marked up with TemplateData hinting, so we'll make sure that there's advice and support available for wikis that need it.
[20:17:54] <MartijnH> there is the existing work from reflinks that could maybe be used for that, cool stuff, but probably slightly further down the road
[20:18:00] * James_F nods.�
[20:18:53] <James_F> And even further down the road, long-term we might move to Wikidata-based cross-wiki citation system, abandoning <ref>s for a new way of working – I know there are a bunch of community developers looking at this problem right now.
[20:19:16] <James_F> But that's a bit far off to know how it will pan out right now.
[20:19:42] <James_F> (Speaking with my "Chair of Wikimania 2014 Programme Committee" hat on, I know it's come up a few times in the submissions for London, so hopefully it will be well discussed there.)
[20:19:53] <rippitippi> I have only a question, there is a plan to integrate VE->wiki->wikidata, in short if a wiki use wikidata to fill Taxobox an I change a value on wiki part, this value must change on wikidata too
[20:20:20] <James_F> rippitippi: Interesting question, and linked to another thing we're working on.
[20:21:01] <James_F> We're currently also working on improving UploadWizard so that it can be used across-wikis in a little pop-up window as you're editing – be that in VisualEditor or the wikitext editor.
[20:21:36] <James_F> This would mean that English Wikipedia editors, or French Wikiquote, or Hebrew Wikiversity, or … would be helped to upload files straight to Commons without even visiting it.
[20:22:19] <James_F> But this also means that we need to make sure that there are strong encouragements in place to get editors on project wikis to understand and abide by the rules of Commons.
[20:22:26] <James_F> The same also applies on Wikidata integration.
[20:23:05] <James_F> We've spoken to the Wikidata technical team and they are hesitant to make it too easy to edit Wikidata if you're not versed in the rules and policies of that wiki.
[20:23:20] <MartijnH>  :(
[20:23:24] <MartijnH> how wiki
[20:23:29] <James_F> I think that it will be possible to come up with an easy and clear way to guide users into making the right edits, but it may take some time.
[20:23:57] <James_F> Oh, sure, but just because this is what makes it a challenge doesn't mean it's bad.
[20:24:09] <James_F> I like to say "If it was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing".
[20:24:19] <James_F> And this is definitely not going to be easy. :_)
[20:24:51] <rippitippi> certainly I was just asking if it is in the plans
[20:25:06] <James_F> So, yes, we're looking at doing exactly that – you edit on English Wikipedia an infobox that's using Wikidata, and you have the ability to simply and easily fix or update the data stored on Wikidata and used everywhere.
[20:25:12] * James_F nods.�
[20:26:03] <James_F> So, rambling over, mostly.
[20:26:21] <Maggie_Dennis> Does anyone have any followup questions on that, or other questions?
[20:26:37] <James_F>
[20:26:59] <Maggie_Dennis> I take that to mean James_F does not. :)
[20:27:01] <rippitippi> I was talking about, for example James_F born in 1980 changed in James_F born in 1990 not complex task
[20:27:09] * James_F grins.�
[20:27:39] <James_F> rippitippi: Absolutely.
[20:27:53] <James_F> rippitippi: So we definitely want to make that task simple for the user.
[20:28:24] <James_F> rippitippi: The hard part is for us – the VisualEditor technical team, and the Wikidata technical team – to make it clear that you're making the edit for all wikis at once, and what the rules around such an edit are.
[20:28:43] <James_F> For instance, Wikidata uses a different copyright licence to the rest of the Wikimedia wikis.
[20:29:20] <rippitippi> yes i know
[20:29:22] <James_F> We don't have any instances of cross-wiki editing right now, so we need to come up with a way of making it simple and familiar for users.
[20:29:40] <James_F> But we will get it done. :-)
[20:30:16] <rippitippi> any timeline?
[20:30:29] <James_F> No specific timeline, no.
[20:30:42] <James_F> I think the first thing to do will be interlanguage links.
[20:31:12] <James_F> Because those are "simple" (and yet quite hard in some cases), and are often the first cross-wiki Wikidata item that users need to interact with.
[20:31:57] <James_F> Once we're happy that that it working for editors on local wikis, and that the Wikidata community it happy too, I think the next thing would be inserting properties in a similar fashion to templates.
[20:31:58] <MartijnH> is there any long-term plan for currently non-VE'able templates yet (templates that contain incomplete HTML segments for example, like {{hat}} {{hab}} on
[20:32:49] <James_F> rippitippi: Is that enough detail? Happy to answer more.
[20:33:02] <Maggie_Dennis> MartihnH, it's on the list for as soon as rippitippi's question is through. :)
[20:33:09] * MartijnH nods�
[20:33:32] <rippitippi> yes thank James
[20:33:37] <James_F> OK. :-)
[20:33:54] <James_F> MartijnH: So… ish.
[20:34:28] <James_F> MartijnH: Those templates "work" right now – you can insert a {{hat}} at one point and a {{hab}} below it.
[20:34:51] <James_F> MartijnH: But when you parse that page through Parsoid, you'll get a wrapped content block inside a transclusion with those two templates in it.
[20:35:33] <James_F> MartijnH: This is because those templates create unbalanced DOM nodes (which are bad), and we have to isolate them to make sure the rest of the page works.
[20:35:48] <James_F> MartijnH: The Parsoid team are looking at a few strategies to combat this.
[20:36:21] <James_F> MartijnH: One is allowing templates' parameters to be parsed, and provided to VE, as DOM nodes which can be edited.
[20:36:47] <James_F> MartijnH: This will allow {{echo|{{echo|[[Foo!]]}}}} to be edited without ever seeing wikitext.
[20:37:27] <MartijnH> nice
[20:37:37] <James_F> MartijnH: A second tack they're looking at is improving on (and replacing) the current Template system with something that is based on isolated DOM nodes (so {{hat}} wouldn't work, but there'd be replacements for it that would, and would be seemless).
[20:37:57] <James_F> That said, {{hat}} and {{hab}} are almost only ever used in discussions.
[20:38:35] <James_F> And discussions are out of scope for VisualEditor – that's Flow's problem ;-) – and compacting previous discussions down to a simple summary is something I know is on their roadmap.
[20:39:02] <James_F> MartijnH: Is that enough?
[20:39:55] <MartijnH> I still have the feeling that incomplete DOM nodes are currently somewhat widely used, and are getting shuffled under the carpet because - understandably - nobody wants to think about it
[20:40:14] <James_F> Definitely not shuffled. :-)
[20:40:20] <MartijnH> but if the awareness is there, I'm happy
[20:40:37] <James_F> With Lua there really isn't much need for partial DOM node templates any more.
[20:40:52] <James_F> Multi-part table templates can instead be just a Lua call. Simples!
[20:41:34] <James_F> (Well, simple-ish. And we will need to build a good Lua call editor in VisualEditor at some point – right now they're a bit tricky to edit with VE.)
[20:42:00] <Maggie_Dennis> So, are there any other questions for James_F?
[20:43:22] <Maggie_Dennis> Okay, so you already answered this question partially. :) We have a user who is impatient for the citation tool under development and wondering why it hasn't shipped yet. You updated the status, but do you have indication when it might be released? Any reason for the delay?
[20:43:56] <James_F> Sure.
[20:44:16] <James_F> We're really focussed on making the citation editing experience really easy and understandable.
[20:44:39] <James_F> It's definitely our top priority in terms of new features for VisualEditor.
[20:45:14] <James_F> We undertook some user testing of a version of the new system and got a lot of good ideas from that.
[20:45:45] <James_F> Some of them are pieces of work for the "backlog" - things we think will improve VisualEditor, but aren't things we'll get done very soon.
[20:46:40] <James_F> Others are higher importance – and we decided to take some of these onto our plate before releasing it at large.
[20:47:19] <James_F> For instance, we were originally letting you edit a citation as both a citation and as a reference (so you could edit alongside the template, as well as edit the template's parameters, if you so chose).
[20:47:53] <James_F> But we found that this was really confusing for newbies who didn't know anything about citations and references and the relationship between them.
[20:48:30] <James_F> We thought that it was going to be a minor oddity they'd ignore, but instead they frequently got side-tracked by it, and it was a big drag on the system working smoothly and simply for them.
[20:49:10] <James_F> So we decided to take on the work to only have citations show one button, not two, which has involved a lot of back-end changes (and so has delayed us being able to release it).
[20:49:31] <James_F> In particular, we're not very keen to release an interface when we already think that it's not good enough. :-)
[20:49:53] <James_F> Especially if we'd end up changing it, possibly quite a lot, just a few days or weeks after it was released and people had started to get used to it.
[20:50:24] <Maggie_Dennis> (10 minute warning, everyone. :))
[20:50:42] <James_F> As to "when will it be shipped?", I hope that we'll get the last of the top-priority issues sorted by the end of next week or so, so probably out there for testing by the end of this month. Hopefully. :-)
[20:51:23] <HaeB> just a quick note that James_F also talked about the citation tool at the metrics meeting earlier this month. the video is here (starting around 26:00):,_2014.ogv
[20:51:34] <Maggie_Dennis> Thank you, HaeB!
[20:51:43] <James_F> Aha, thank HaeB. :-)
[20:51:48] <Maggie_Dennis> Any other questions from the room? As we're drawing close to end, I want to be sure those of you who are here get a chance to ask in person. :)
[20:52:01] <MartijnH> as a single datapoint you might like, currently about 50% of my mainspace edits are VE edits.
[20:52:10] <Maggie_Dennis> Cool, MartijnH!
[20:52:41] <James_F> MartijnH: Is there one or two things which fixing them would bump that to 80%? ;-)
[20:53:05] <James_F> BTW, I didn't mention before – since the last Office Hours for VisualEditor, we had the Quarterly Review – the minutes are
[20:53:57] <Maggie_Dennis> Okay, here's another one written in - Are there any VisualEditor presentations planned for Wikimania?
[20:54:29] <MartijnH> James_F, proabbly making shortcuts more accessible. The main reason I use the wikitext editor is for edits that both make minor ajustments to wikitext and to templates in the same edit. For me, using VE for editing templates just takes more clicks, movements, etc
[20:54:42] <James_F> If you go to you'll see three:
[20:54:44] <ragesoss> Speed is still the biggest impediment to my use of VE.
[20:54:48] <James_F> * (mostly from me)
[20:55:00] <James_F> * (mostly from the developers)
[20:55:07] <Maggie_Dennis> Hi, ragesoss. :)
[20:55:12] <James_F> * (about Parsoid).
[20:55:24] <ragesoss> On, the save dialog in particular takes several seconds to come up.
[20:55:27] <MartijnH> cool stuff :)
[20:55:49] <Maggie_Dennis> (5 minute warning!)
[20:55:54] <MartijnH> (also, side by side wikitext/VE. I know, a pipedream, but I *have* to name it)
[20:56:08] <James_F> There's also!_The_Joy_of_Real-Time_Collaboration from Erik M. looking towards adding real-time collaboration to wiki editing (through VE).
[20:56:14] <Maggie_Dennis> MartijnH, I'd love to see that, too. :)
[20:56:44] <James_F> MartijnH: Keyboard shortcuts for editing templates would be very easy – mostly we'd just need to find a set of controls that don't conflict with existing ones, and system ones.
[20:57:12] <James_F> MartijnH: E.g. Ctrl+P is for printing, Ctrl+S is for saving the Web page, Ctrl+T is for making a new tab…
[20:57:17] <James_F> MartijnH: Ideas welcome. :-)
[20:57:40] <James_F> ragesoss: That's very odd – do you have some gadgets loaded that might be slowing it down for you?
[20:57:59] <WikiPuppies> Testing WALLCHAN.
[20:58:05] <ragesoss> Not that I know of.
[20:58:12] <James_F> ragesoss: I just tested it and it took approximately half a second to appear.
[20:58:34] <James_F> ragesoss: (Which could be faster, yes, at the expense of more memory; it's a balancing act.)
[20:58:49] <ragesoss> Maybe it's specific to the pages I usually edit?
[20:59:07] <James_F> MartijnH: BTW double-click on a template, or select it and press <Return>, will open it's dialog.
[20:59:26] <James_F> MartijnH: This applies to all images/references/templates/etc. and speeds up my using VE a lot.
[20:59:47] <MartijnH> yeah, that sort of helps
[20:59:57] <ragesoss> James_F I'll do some testing to try to isolate the slowness and file a bug.
[20:59:58] <James_F> But faster, stronger, now.
[21:00:06] <James_F> ragesoss: That'd be hugely helpful, thanks!
[21:00:16] <Maggie_Dennis> That's our time, people.
[21:00:25] <Maggie_Dennis> Thank you so much for attending and asking questions. I'll have the logs up soon.
[21:00:58] <Maggie_Dennis> Thank you, James_F, for attending also. :D
[21:00:58] <James_F> And feel free to swing by #mediawiki-visualeditor if you have questions. :-)
[21:01:04] <Maggie_Dennis> I would have been lonely without you.
[21:01:07] <James_F> Happy to help. :-)
[21:01:09] <MartijnH> thanks for coming out here and keeping doing this :)
[21:01:20] * James_F waves.�