IRC office hours/Office hours 2014-10-18

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Time: 18:00-19:00 UTC
Channel: #wikimedia-office
Timestamps are in UTC.

[17:48:46] <Elitre> Hi everybody. In 10 minutes or so, James Forrester, Product Manager of VisualEditor, will start the monthly office hour. Stay tuned for the latest news about the project and to learn about future plans. Please remember the conversation will be logged and available later on Meta.
[17:48:55] * James_F waves. :-)
[17:55:09] <marktraceur> Wikimedia: What Weekend?
[17:55:26] <marktraceur> (this will be on the next recruiting postcards.)
[17:57:45] <James_F> marktraceur: If I did these during the week many community people couldn't attend.
[17:58:59] <James_F> marktraceur: I'd point out that you are on IRC this weekend too. :_)
[18:00:13] <Elitre> all right
[18:00:19] <Elitre> we're ready to go!
[18:00:27] <James_F> Heya everyone.
[18:00:34] <Elitre> Welcome everybody to October's office hour for VE.
[18:01:11] <Elitre> Please feel free to shoot your questions (here or in a PM to me) while James tells us about what's going on in the VE-world now.
[18:01:18] <James_F> Sure
[18:01:25] <Elitre> how are you, James? First things first.
[18:01:36] <James_F> I'm well, and happy to be talking about VisualEditor. ;-)
[18:01:43] <James_F> And how are you, Elitre?
[18:02:15] <James_F> OK, since September our work has mostly focussed on language support and table editing.
[18:02:41] <Elitre> glad to be here (who cares about weekends anyway).
[18:02:56] <James_F> On the first of these, a really major re-write of how we intercept browser behaviour and correct it so that bold/italics/links can be extended when you type next to an existing style.
[18:03:29] <James_F> Different browsers unfortunately do this in different ways; some of them always extend, some of them never extend, some of them do it but only in some conditions.
[18:03:54] <James_F> So a big part of VisualEditor's job is to correct what your browser wants to do so that it works the same whatever browser you happen to be using (and, of course, works at all).
[18:04:23] <James_F> Previously we were using a clever trick we called "pawning", where we put in a pawn character and then removed it again.
[18:05:08] <Elitre> (wait, we though VE just wanted to play chess with us...)
[18:05:13] <Elitre> *thought
[18:05:17] <James_F> Sometimes this broke, especially when a browser changed its mind half way through an event, which could leave you with pawn characters ("â™™") in the document.
[18:05:43] <James_F> So for the past six months or so, we've been working to replace this technology with an alternative that we're calling "unicorning".
[18:06:33] <James_F> This uses an image of a chess knight with an acute accent (so it looks like a unicorn) instead of a character.
[18:07:40] <James_F> This has a huge advantage in how it works, which means that people using Input Method Editors (e.g. for Japanese, Korean, Arabic or Indic language text entry) are a lot closer to being able to use VisualEditor reliably.
[18:08:10] <James_F> Pawning interfered with IMEs so that you couldn't use them at all; with unicorning, we're not done yet but we've made a lot of progress.
[18:08:55] <James_F> Obviously fixing it so all IMEs work flawlessly is a lot of work, but it's one of our major commitments for the next few months and we'll hopefully have more to say on this soon.
[18:09:39] <James_F> The other advantage is that the images don't ever make it into the "model", which means that incidents when editing with VisualEditor suddenly turns into a chess game, as Elitre puts it, should go away.
[18:09:57] <Elitre> James_F: so will editors for those Wikipedias already notice an improvement?
[18:10:01] <James_F> There's still a little bit of pawning left which we hope to replace this week, but in most cases it's gone now.
[18:10:28] <James_F> Elitre: For some IMEs VisualEditor now works where previously it failed, yes, but in general we're still not done with a lot of the major IMEs.
[18:10:45] <James_F> Elitre: E.g. Linux iBus in Malayalam.
[18:10:51] <Elitre> (I'm not sure if no images is a plus. I bet most people wouldn't mind to see unicorns here and there.)
[18:10:59] <James_F> Ha. :-)
[18:11:16] <James_F> Also, the unicorns are invisible in normal operation, just to be boring. :-)
[18:12:05] <James_F> OK, so, that's where we're up to with language support.
[18:12:43] <James_F> On table editing, we've been working on getting this implemented.
[18:13:05] <brion> yay unicorns
[18:13:13] <James_F> The design is at (we recently tweaked the design a bit based on how it worked in reality), and we look forward to releasing it
[18:13:16] <James_F> "soon".
[18:14:32] <James_F> Hopefully the general silence we've had from community members about the design means they like it. :-)
[18:15:11] <James_F> Anyway, that's my update.
[18:15:22] <James_F> There's lots more going on, as always.
[18:15:31] <Elitre> we asked for feedback many times, so I'm guessing they're fine.
[18:15:36] <James_F> Yeah.
[18:15:47] <James_F> We have had some feedback, it's not completely been ignored. :-)
[18:15:56] <Elitre> BTW I see TarLocesilion from pl.wp is here, hi :)
[18:16:11] <James_F> Also there was the Quarterly Review for the Editing Team happened a couple of weeks ago –
[18:16:17] <James_F> For those who didn't see.
[18:16:33] <brion> i’m very excited about table editor \o/
[18:16:41] <James_F> Good. :-)
[18:16:42] <brion> any plan to handle merging cells etc ?
[18:16:55] <TarLocesilion> hi Elitre, I'll finish typing my question in a moment :)
[18:16:58] <brion> that’s ‘advanced’ perhaps but happens a lot
[18:17:03] <brion> in tables i see
[18:17:17] <Elitre> I suggest people take a look at those minutes - and at your slidedeck. There's really interesting stuff over there.
[18:17:30] <James_F> brion: Not at first; initial worklist is add/remove columns and rows; mark/unmark column/row as header; mark/unmark column as sortable.
[18:17:37] <brion> sensible
[18:17:44] <brion> incremental improvements :D
[18:17:49] <James_F> brion: There are other things we'll support in future, but… yeah.
[18:19:08] <Elitre> So, other questions for James? (No need to be shy. He doesn't bite.)
[18:20:57] <brion> have to ask ;) ’what’s the status on mobile VE?’
[18:21:04] <James_F> Sure. :-)
[18:21:24] <James_F> Right now we have VisualEditor working on tablets, integrated into MobileFrontend.
[18:21:39] <brion> iirc there have been some perf concerns with it on tablets
[18:21:41] <James_F> This is live on all wikis, as a secondary option available if your device supports it.
[18:22:20] <James_F> Yeah, there are some questions about exactly what performance envelopes are acceptable to the Mobile team, hence the gentle release.
[18:22:40] <brion> *nod*
[18:23:13] <James_F> This quarter we're kicking of a big piece of work on performance improvements across the board (in wikitext, VE and other places).
[18:23:19] <brion> yay!
[18:23:31] <brion> would VE section editing help, or are the speed issues independent of page size?
[18:23:58] <TarLocesilion> James_F, how to deal with VE in related local MediaWiki ns pages, like MediaWiki:Noarticletext? to provide veaction=edit link, or action=edit, or both? it's an question about usability, newbies and/vs. power users, in fact. ability of switching between tools vs. too much choosing and labyrinth experience. now, 'Edit' tab links to VE, but VE seems not to be default
[18:24:02] <James_F> The hope is that will both improve performance, but also set clear thresholds of what "good enough" is.
[18:24:16] <Elitre> TarLocesilion: , question noted.
[18:24:37] <brion> +1 to measurements
[18:24:42] <James_F> HHVM gives some impressive speed-ups for wikitext editing, though sadly has no real effect for VisualEditor because our code is already fast ;-) (and client side).
[18:25:39] <James_F> Sub-page editing with VE could help, and we're keen for the services we depend on to be in a stage where we can start work on how that would work, but a lot of the complexity of VE is actually page-level and exists regardless of the length of the page.
[18:26:29] <James_F> Most obviously, we need to build a data model of the page that includes for instance each reference used on the page so that they can be re-used (and re-number correctly), so that the Table of Contents shows up right, and so on.
[18:26:46] <brion> *nod* we should probably do some surveying of relative abundance of different hardware; on tablets there’s a huge perf disparity between the old iPad 2 or iPad Mini 1 and the newest iPads, for instance
[18:27:02] <James_F> So there's some promise in the long-run, but there are real questions about what approaches we'll find that work best.
[18:27:07] <pajz> Apologies if I missed something, but: Will there be section editing at one point or is this not on the table?
[18:27:07] <brion> might make sense to benchmark and show a warning on the slowest :P
[18:27:17] <James_F> Yeah. And on 'phones it's even more extreme.
[18:27:53] <Elitre> pajz: James will answer ASAP.
[18:27:56] <James_F> pajz: We expect to build sub-page editing (but probably not "section editing" as that makes little sense) yes,.
[18:28:38] <James_F> brion: We found that benchmarking code was hard to write and abandoned that approach, BTW; your help on that would be great.
[18:28:40] <pajz> Not quite sure I understand what "sub-page editing" means. Can you give an example?
[18:28:55] <James_F> pajz: Edit a paragraph, or an image, or a list, or a table, or…
[18:29:05] <brion> spiff
[18:29:15] <James_F> pajz: If you want to edit another thing before saving, click on that and it too becomes editable.
[18:29:32] <James_F> pajz: Rather than restricting people to a particular section.
[18:29:41] <James_F> pajz: But this is all quite a long way off.
[18:29:57] <pajz> Ok, I see. Thanks.
[18:30:11] <James_F> OK, so, I owe TarLocesilion an answer. :-)
[18:31:00] <James_F> This is a big question. MediaWiki has a huge number of places where it makes assumptions about how you edit pages – MediaWiki messages, links, ways of working, and so on.
[18:31:40] <James_F> We plan to get to a point where VisualEditor uses only one edit tab, but provides both wikitext and "VisualEditor" editing.
[18:32:48] <James_F> However, there are quite a few blockers to us getting that done, most notably re-forming how MediaWiki registers and thinks of extensions that can edit things, but also in e.g. switching back and forth simply and reliably between wikitext and VisualEditor HTML mid-edit without saving.
[18:33:13] <James_F> Right now you can switch from VisualEditor into wikitext (just click "Edit source" mid edit), but going back the other way isn't possible.
[18:33:45] <James_F> Right now we're in a bit of a mess where there are two possible links, and most messages refer to the wikitext one even though their contents are mostly aimed at newbies.
[18:34:26] <James_F> So my advice TarLocesilion for now would be that it makes sense to replace those links to be VisualEditor links, yes. Eventually this won't be necessary, but this would help newbies now.
[18:34:29] <James_F> Does that make sens?
[18:34:30] <James_F> +e
[18:35:38] <TarLocesilion> so what about those power users, who don't appreciate editing VE for quite obvious reasons? they don't want to see veaction=edit link even if they can switch to wikitext :|
[18:36:12] <TarLocesilion> personally, I prefer replace links to wikisource with links to VE
[18:36:38] <James_F> TarLocesilion: Power users generally don't need the help to find the edit button, though. :-)
[18:36:50] <mvolz> Presumably you could easily make a user gadget to hide the tab, if you *really* didn't want to see it....
[18:37:00] <James_F> mvolz: It's already a preference.
[18:37:09] <mvolz> ah ok, yeah :)
[18:37:42] <TarLocesilion> yep, but my situation is when there's only VE link in e.g. MediaWiki:Noarticletext and if they click on it, VE appears. I know, it isn't easy
[18:37:49] * James_F nods.
[18:38:13] <James_F> In the future the link will take you to VE or Wikitext depending on the one you last used, but yes, right now it's a mess.
[18:38:27] <TarLocesilion> ok, that's an interesting info
[18:38:30] <Elitre> I think there are no questions in queue for James, so write now to get his attention.
[18:38:51] <James_F> This is how we have done it in the mobile (tablet) editing software, and it seems to work well.
[18:39:41] <James_F> But it potentially means a quite disruptive change to the wikitext editor, aligning its design and functionality so that wikitext users also have e.g. a nice template inserter.
[18:39:58] <James_F> Rather than having all these tools only work for VisualEditor, as it is now.
[18:42:20] <Elitre> While you come up with more questions, I'll plug . This month, for the first time, the VE monthly newsletter was marked for translation, and delivered in over 10 languages. Many thanks to people who made this possible.
[18:42:42] <James_F> Yeah, that was really great. Thank you from me, too, to all the translators.
[18:42:44] <Elitre> Quick link to sign up: . Please let me know if you're available to translate future issues!
[18:42:50] <mvolz> Is the process for enabling VE done on a per-wiki basis? I.e. if I want VE on wikidata on the Wikidata: namespace, who do I talk to? :)
[18:43:31] <James_F> mvolz: Me. :-) But we have a policy to not enable VE on namespaces that are widely used for discussions, because VE doesn't support those (that's what Flow is for).
[18:45:42] <TarLocesilion> well' another info from plwiki R&D team, - where we're asking power users about their feelings about VE
[18:45:50] <Elitre> 15 minutes to go, everybody :)
[18:46:02] <James_F> mvolz: Of course, the Wikidata team might also have some ideas. :-)
[18:46:25] <mvolz> Well the Wikidata namespace is kind of a mixed bag
[18:46:39] <mvolz> I'm thinking table editing would be really useful for some wiki projects
[18:46:41] <mvolz> i.e.
[18:46:44] <James_F> TarLocesilion: Interesting. From a quick glance through Google Translate they seem unhappy about speed and feel it's not for them?
[18:46:57] <TarLocesilion> as I've written to Elitre, e.g. 3 infos. (MatmaRex will read it when it's finished)
[18:46:57] <mvolz> wikidata projects*
[18:47:10] <James_F> mvolz: That's a fair point. Editing tables is a lot easier in VE, that's true.
[18:47:13] <TarLocesilion> James_F: yep, ofc, but for instance
[18:47:16] <mvolz> I have actually literally edited a table in VE on mediawiki
[18:47:28] <mvolz> and then pasted the resulting wikitext into a wikidata namespace page
[18:47:38] <TarLocesilion> 'it'd be great if there was a table of special characters with 'recently used' list'
[18:47:48] <James_F> mvolz: OK, maybe we should re-visit our policy.
[18:48:14] <James_F> TarLocesilion: Ah, that's an interesting idea. We could add that pretty easily to the special characters tool.
[18:48:19] <Elitre> (TarLocesilion: Google Translate does a quite poor job there :/ (also, jargon ;) ) but I'm confident you and I can try to recap the most pressing issues and needs and we can check whether there's something filed on Bugilla about them or not, for example. )
[18:48:57] <TarLocesilion> 'copy+paste' tool doesn't work for texts already formatted in VE (e.g. sandbox -> article)
[18:49:24] <TarLocesilion> Elitre: sure, you, I and MatmaRex ;)
[18:49:28] <James_F> TarLocesilion: Is the idea that you will summarise all the points into a list of the most important things to improve from their point of view?
[18:49:44] <Elitre> or maybe you and Matma alone /me whistles :p
[18:49:50] <TarLocesilion> definitely
[18:50:04] <James_F> Excellent. Thank you. :-)
[18:50:21] <TarLocesilion> yw ;)
[18:51:32] <Elitre> We're not ready to wrap-up this office hour yet, so we accept last minute questions. Anyone?
[18:52:34] <TarLocesilion> heh, veaction=edit in inputboxes etc. :D
[18:52:50] <Elitre> (Also, you should mark your calendars already for next month. James will be here on Wednesday 19th at 4pm UTC. )
[18:52:51] <James_F> TarLocesilion: Yeah, that's on our list too.
[18:52:52] <TarLocesilion> there's already a bug reported :D
[18:52:57] * James_F nods.
[18:53:11] <James_F> Yes, next time around it won't be on a weekend, which will make marktraceur happy.
[18:53:42] <marktraceur> James_F: I'm never happy, but it'll help. :P
[18:53:51] <James_F> marktraceur: You said it. :-)
[18:54:36] <James_F> So, no more questions?
[18:56:27] <Elitre> Well, I guess that's it for today. Thank you so much for showing up and asking about your (hopefully!) favorite editor, and thanks James for your answers.
[18:56:47] * James_F waves.
[18:56:51] <Elitre> have a nice weekend, everyone.
[18:56:53] <James_F> Thank you, everyone – and thank you, Elitre!
[18:57:05] <TarLocesilion> thank you, James_F and Elitre
[18:57:38] <Elitre> talk to you soon, TarLocesilion!
[18:57:49] <TarLocesilion>  ;)
[18:58:52] <Elitre> logs will follow ASAP. Take care, everybody.