||This article needs attention from an expert in Wikipedia. The specific problem is: implementation technical details sought. (September 2013)|
VisualEditor's text formatting menu
|Developer(s)||Wikimedia Foundation and Wikia|
|Development status||Live Beta|
VisualEditor (VE) is a MediaWiki extension that provides a "visual" or "WYSIWYG-like" online rich-text editor to Wikipedia, developed by the Wikimedia Foundation in partnership with Wikia. The beta was (temporarily it later turned out) enabled by default with the ability to opt-out in July 2013 for Mediawiki.org and several of the largest Wikipedias.
The Wikimedia Foundation considered it the most challenging technical project to date, while The Economist has called it Wikipedia's most significant change. According to the The Daily Dot, Wikimedia Foundation's pursuit of wider participation may risk alienating existing editors. On 24 September 2013 the English Wikipedia's VisualEditor was changed from opt-out to opt-in, following widespread complaints from users that the VisualEditor was poorly implemented and buggy.
The original web-based Wikipedia editor provided by MediaWiki is a plain browser based[note 1] text editor where authors had to learn the wiki markup language to edit. A WYSIWYG editor for Wikipedia has been planned for years in order to remove the need to learn the wiki markup language, thus reducing the technical hurdle for would-be Wikipedians, enabling wider participation in editing, and subsequently reversing the decline in editor numbers of 50,000 in 2006 to 35,000 in 2011, having peaked in 2007. It was part a $1m project developing new features and making improvements. An aim of the project is to allow both the former wiki markup editing and editing with the WYSIWYG VisualEditor. According to Wikimedia Foundation's Jay Walsh, the hope is to redress under-represented contributions from Arabic, Portuguese, and Indic-language versions of the site.[note 2]
According to Wikimedia Foundation "There are various reasons that lead existing and prospective contributors not to edit; among them, the complexity of wiki markup is a major issue. One of VisualEditor’s goals is to empower knowledgeable and good-faith users to edit and become valuable members of the community, even if they’re not wiki markup experts. We also hope that, with time, experienced editors will find VisualEditor useful for some of their editing tasks." In 2012, Sue Gardner, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, said "we don't think that the visual editor, in and of itself, is going to solve the challenge", and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales remarked “This is epically important”.
MediaWiki is used by a large number of wikis, with smaller sites originally conceived as being rolled out first. VisualEditor was planned to be rolled out on the English-language Wikipedia for editors with registered accounts, and then for anonymous editors. The alpha version was made available to select users in December 2012, widened to all registered users in April. It then became the default editor for users logged-into the English-language Wikipedia in July 2013. Most of the other language services were planned to follow in the weeks after that. VisualEditor does not support the broad range of functionality that the classic editor provides using wiki markup, and it has been mostly unused since shortly after its rollout; this is despite the hopes of the Wikimedia Foundation for VisualEditor to largely replace markup editing. For instance, just 20% of edits on the Portuguese Wikipedia use VisualEditor.
The first attempt at developing the VisualEditor failed, after which the Wikimedia Foundation joined forces with Wikia to complete the project. The implementation encountered challenges with the wiki markup language (the basis for Wikipedia articles), due to it being continuously extended over 12 years to include seldom-used rich and complex features making reproduction of the final article appearance dependent on many factors that were not easy to reproduce. The technical implementation required improvements to MediaWiki in parsing, wiki markup language, the DOM and final HTML conversion. A necessary component is a parser server called Parsoid[note 3] which is written in Node.js and was created to convert in both directions between wikitext and a format suitable for VisualEditor. Wikipedia considered it the most challenging technical project to date.
As of October 2013[update] supported web browsers include modern versions of Chrome, Firefox, Midori, Opera, and Safari. There is no support for Internet Explorer, but Internet Explorer 9 and 10 are planned to be supported in the future. As of September 2013[update], the Wikipedia project page states that VisualEditor is temporarily disabled for users of Internet Explorer 9 and 10, with no plans to support Internet Explorer 8 and earlier.
The VisualEditor extension is available for download and requires MediaWiki 1.22+.
According to the VisualEditor project, the aim is "to create a reliable rich-text editor for MediaWiki", a "visual editor", "WYSIWYG-like". It is a MediaWiki extension in the category "WYSIWYG extensions". It has been referred to (although this may not strictly be correct) as "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" (WYSIWYG).
According to the The Daily Dot, Wikimedia Foundation's pursuit of more users may be at the risk of alienating the existing editors. Some experienced editors have expressed concerns about the roll out and bugs, with the German Wikipedia community voting overwhelmingly against making the VisualEditor the new default, and expressing a preference for making it an "opt-in" feature instead. Despite these complaints, the Wikimedia Foundation continued with the rollout. According to The Register "Our brief exploration suggests it certainly removes any need to so much as remember what kind of parenthesis belongs where." According to The Economist's L.M., it is "the most significant change in Wikipedia's short history." Softpedia ran an article titled "Wikipedia's New VisualEditor Is the Best Update in Years and You Can Make It Better". Some opponents say that users may feel belittled by the implication that "certain people" are confused by WikiText and therefore need the VisualEditor.
The Daily Dot reported on 24 September 2013 that the Wikimedia Foundation had experienced a mounting backlash from the English Wikipedia community, which criticised the VisualEditor as slow, poorly implemented and prone to break articles' existing text formatting. In the resulting "test of wills" between the community and the Foundation, a volunteer administrator overrode the Wikimedia Foundation's settings to change the availability of VisualEditor from opt-out to opt-in. The Foundation acquiesced, but vowed to continue developing and improving the VisualEditor.
- LICENSE.txt, VisualEditor source code repository, git.wikimedia.org
- Andrew Webster (2012-06-22). "Wikimedia releases updated prototype for simplified visual editor". The Verge. Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- "Wikipedia:VisualEditor". Wikipedia. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- Andrew Orlowski (2013-09-25). "Revolting peasants force Wikipedia to cut'n'paste Visual Editor into the bin". The Register. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
- Emil Protalinski (2013-07-02). "Wikimedia rolls out WYSIWYG visual editor for logged-in users accessing Wikipedia articles in English". The Next Web. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
- L.M. (2011-12-13). "Changes at Wikipedia: Seeing things". The Economist. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
- Tim Sampson (2012-07-04). "Will Wikipedia's pretty new editing software solve its recruitment crisis?". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- Tim Sampson (2013-09-24). "Wikipedia faces revolt over VisualEditor". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
- Martin Brinkmann (2012-02-24). "Wikipedia Visual Editor Coming Soon". ghacks. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
- ehe (2011-12-14). "Wikimedia testing visual editor". h-online. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
- Megan Garber (2012-07-12). "On the Ugliness of Wikipedia". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
- Gene Ryan Briones (2012-06-21). "Wikimedia launches new prototype "visual editor" for Wikipedia". ubergizmo.com. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
- Jamie Keene (2011-12-15). "Wikimedia Foundation previews simplified visual editor". The Verge. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
- Gabriela Vatu (2013-06-06). "Wikipedia's Visual Editor to Be Rolled Out". Softpedia. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
- Simon Sharwood (2013-06-07). "Wikimedia edges closer to banishing Wikitext". The Register. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
- Terence Huynh (2013-07-01). "Wikipedia finally gets a WYSIWYG visual editor". techgeek.com.au. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
- djwm (2012-12-13). "VisualEditor launched in Wikipedia". h-online. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
- Sumana Harihareswara, Guillaume Paumier. "The Architecture of Open Source Applications (Volume 2) : MediaWiki". aosabook.org. Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- Andrew Orlowski (2013-08-01). "Wikipedians say no to Jimmy's 'buggy' WYSIWYG editor". The Register. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
- Lucian Parfeni (2013-07-02). "Wikipedia's New VisualEditor Is the Best Update in Years and You Can Make It Better". Softpedia. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- Simonite, Tom (October 22, 2013). "The Decline of Wikipedia: Even As More People Than Ever Rely on It, Fewer People Create It". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
- Roth, Amy, Rochelle Davis, and Brian Carver. "Assigning Wikipedia editing: Triangulation toward understanding university student engagement." First Monday 18.6 (2013). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210%2Ffm.v18i6.4340
- Florian Leander Mayer. "Erfolgsfaktoren von Social Media: Wie "funktionieren" Wikis?: Eine vergleichende Analyse kollaborativer Kommunikationssysteme im Internet, in Organisationen und in Gruppen" (2013) Lit Verlag, pp. 30–32. ISBN 978-3643122100
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to VisualEditor.|
- MediaWiki VisualEditor
- MediaWiki Extension: VisualEditor
- Wikimedia blog Wikipedians: Meet VisualEditor and help with the rollout
- MediaWiki Parsoid
- What you see is Wiki - Questioning WYSIWYG in the Internet Age
- MediaWiki alternative parsers
- Building a Visual Editor for Wikipedia
- VisualEditor development status
- Wired Wikipedia’s WYSIWYG Dilemma
- Terry Chay response to questions concerning the VisualEditor