WMDE Technical Wishes/Geoinformation

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Technical Wishes Geoinfo Logo.svg

„How can the representation of geoinformation be improved?“ was chosen as the winner in the Survey Technical Wishes 2020. This means the Technical Wishes team will spend two years on this topic and tackle various problems within it.


Many encyclopedic topics have a geographic reference, and those are shown as maps or coordinates in articles. However, it is currently often very cumbersome to add and edit this geographical information, and the way this information is displayed is also often not satisfying – for instance, because the content is not updated or because the maps lack functionality.

Status and next steps[edit]

  • After a few weeks of buffer to potentially identify caching issues, we have deployed the solution to these wikis on June 7, 2022:
    • Albanian Wikipedia
    • Classical Chinese language Wikipedia
    • German Wikipedia
    • Hungarian Wikipedia
    • Polish Wikipedia

With this deployment, these wikis are now able to use Kartographer. Overall, we will be working on improvements in the area Geoinformation until approximately end of 2022.

Project overview[edit]

Project on some wikis on all wikis
Improve documentation for Kartographer
Complete from the Noun Project (3557299).png  Done
Complete from the Noun Project (3557299).png  Done
Make Kartographer compatible with page stabilization and pending changes
Complete from the Noun Project (3557299).png  Done
Complete from the Noun Project (3557299).png  Done
Update maki icons
Gear from the Noun Project (2345699).png  In development
Gear from the Noun Project (2345699).png  In development
More improvements
Investigation, derived from the Noun Project (2228215).png  In preparation
if there is time left
Investigation, derived from the Noun Project (2228215).png  In preparation
if there is time left

Complete from the Noun Project (3557299).png Improve documentation[edit]

User interviews showed that many users don't use Kartographer because the available features aren't documented (enough). We have updated the existing documentation on mediawiki.org in order to change that:

Complete from the Noun Project (3557299).png Versioned maps: Make Kartographer compatible with page stabilization and pending changes[edit]

Underlying issues[edit]

Currently a problem: Kartographer map in an article pending review – the map is shown as empty(dummy content from beta cluster)
Currently not a problem: Kartographer map in the stable version of an article(dummy content from beta cluster)

In the past, maps created with Kartographer could only be shown for the current version of an article. This created issues for wikis that are using page stabilization (e.g. German Wikipedia) and pending changes (e.g. English Wikipedia) to review changes with the Flagged Revisions extension. When this review system is in place, an older, stable version of an article is shown until the newest edit has been reviewed. That meant: If you had edited a map in an article, this new map would no longer be in sync with the (older) page version that users see by default. As a result, the map was rendered as empty and appeared broken. Also, all old versions of a page showed an empty map if the map content had changed.

This issue affected many wikis using FlaggedRevisions, but to a different degree depending on the specific configuration:

  • Some wikis use this extension to always show an older version of a page until the newest edit has been reviewed, a mode called “page stabilization”. These wikis (phab:T191585) could not use Kartographer at all:
    • Albanian Wikipedia
    • Classical Chinese language Wikipedia
    • German Wikipedia
    • Hungarian Wikipedia
    • Polish Wikipedia
  • These wikis decided to use Kartographer despite the issues described above:
    • Bosnian Wikipedia
    • Georgian Wikipedia
    • Turkish Wikipedia
  • Other wikis such as English Wikipedia use Pending Changes to hide edits done by unregistered and new users from readers until they are accepted by a pending changes reviewer, but only on specific, pending-change-protected pages. On those pages, the issues described above manifested as well.


Our technical changes make Kartographer maps aware of different page revisions. This way, it is possible to see the older map on an older version of the page, and a newer map on a newer version of the page. This versioning system has been deployed to all wikis.

However, please note that maps using shapes from an external source (such as geoshapes defined on OpenStreetMap, Wikidata or Wikimedia Commons) will always show the latest available information from this source, even on older page revisions. So unless shapes were defined in Kartographer, we are not enabling a way to see how these shapes changed over time, for example when a border changes.

Known limitations of Kartographer[edit]

Kartographer maps have been available on other wikis for several years. The Technical Wishes team has now made sure that Kartographer maps are also usable on the German Wikipedia. The feature is very useful, but not perfect. While working on this project, the Technical Wishes team has come across a few things where Kartographer has limited functionality. Here is an – incomplete – list:

  • Maps sometimes don’t render, or annotations are missing.  (T305433)
  • Labels are cut off at tile boundaries. (T228812)
  • Android app currently doesn’t support interactive maps. (T229160)
  • Cartesian projection is not practical for e.g. polar regions. (T185858)
  • VisualEditor:
    • Has limited features compared to wikitext (T158013)

More details about these restrictions can be found on Phabricator. More known bugs can be found on Phabricator. Comments are welcome on Phabricator or on this talk page.

We will continue to work on Kartographer until the end of this year. Which problems and improvements will be addressed and which not, is not yet determined. However, it is certain that we will not be able to solve all of them. Your feedback will also help us determine what we will work on.

Gear from the Noun Project (2345699).png Update maki icons[edit]

We are currently working on updating the icons that can be used on Kartographer markers (phab:T145475).

Investigation, derived from the Noun Project (2228215).png More improvements[edit]

The speed of progress gives us hope that there will still be time for additional improvements to Kartographer. We're currently looking at the results from a survey that we ran among Kartographer users, and will soon know more. For now, we are investigating these improvements:

  • show results of a SPARQL query on a Kartographer map (phab:T188291)
  • allow the VisualEditor maps dialog to accept more coordinate formats (phab:T292493)
  • add the option to display nearby articles in a Kartographer map at an article page (phab:T304076)


WMF works on Kartographer[edit]

Improving maps was already the number 1 wish in the international survey (Community Wishlist 2017). As a result, the MediaWiki extension Kartographer has been greatly improved.


Determining the focus inside this focus area[edit]

  • Our team evaluated all the collected wishes and problems, taking into consideration the feasibility for our team, impact, effort, the user groups who would benefit, possible side effects and risks. Three main problem areas emerged:
    • Maps
    • Coordinates
    • Special:Nearby
  • In a survey from July 19 to August 1, 2021, we asked contributors from German wikis including Commons in which of these three areas improvements are most urgent. Maps won, which is why this is the area where we implement improvements.

Improvements in Kartographer[edit]

  • In March 2022, our team conducted a survey (Lamapoll) to find out which issues there are with Kartographer and which improvements would be most useful. The results of this survey are published here.