Engineering department restructured
According to Deputy Director of the Wikimedia Foundation Erik Möller, the foundation's Engineering Department will be reorganised with immediate effect. The department, which handles the technical side of the WMF's operations, will now be split into four sub-departments (wikitech-l):
- Technical Operations, led by CT Woo, who will be responsible for "keeping Wikimedia Foundation sites and services running, increasing uptime and performance, supporting code deployments, and ensuring recoverability of data and services".
- Platform Engineering, headed by Robert Lanphier, whose area will be "maintaining and supporting the MediaWiki platform" and related operations.
- Features Engineering, led by acting head Alolita Sharma, who will be responsible for "specific feature projects"
- Mobile and Special Projects, headed by Tomasz Finc, who will manage the mobile platform and "projects with strong overlapping requirements (e.g. offline delivery of Wikimedia content)".
These four departments will be augmented by three special "architect" roles, representing "an additional career path for our distinguished engineers beyond 'become a manager'". Two new roles will therefore be created to accompany the existing position of Lead Software Architect held by newly returned ex-CTO Brion Vibber: Lead Operations Architect (Mark Bergsma) and Lead Platform Architect (Tim Starling). Möller also acknowledged the current positions of Senior Product Manager (held by Howie Fung) and Senior Research Analyst (Dario Taraborelli) to help the Engineering Department to integrate with other stakeholders in the wider movement.
Möller added that he will be taking on the role of overall head of the Engineering Department, at least on a temporary basis. As such, no new CTO will be recruited to replace Danese Cooper, who announced her resignation a fortnight ago (see previous Signpost coverage).
Developers told: "break it and be reverted"
Not all fixes may have gone live to WMF sites at the time of writing; some may not be scheduled to go live for many weeks.
- Google's "Safe Browsing" security checks of the Wikipedia domain will now be automatically monitored (bug #28898).
- Editor and blogger Amir Aharoni posted about the need for translating the call for assistance that went out to the Right-to-Left developer community recently.
- WMF developers forewarned of a move that will see any HTTP-based URLs hardcoded into the interface change to pointers that are protocol-insensitive. This will allow users who prefer to use HTTPS (potentially all users in the future) to retrieve both text and images from the secure servers (wikitech-l mailing list).
- A developer for the Okawix project, a Wikipedia reader not currently supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, blogged about the inclusion of the reader in a Linux distribution specially aimed at school-age children. It will ship with a censored version of the French Wikipedia. Its main competitor, Kiwix, is currently preparing to integrate itself with the translatewiki.net localisation service.
- Developer Jeroen De Dauw noted his release of an updated version of the "Live Translate" extension, which helps multilingual authors quickly machine-translate articles from one language Wikipedia to another before manual polishing. The update allows for Microsoft rather than Google to be used as the translation provider, and comes after news that Google is controversially retiring the API version of its translate service.
- After an RfC (Signpost coverage) revealed consensus, the English Wikipedia's oversight and checkuser group permissions have been made more self-sufficient and less reliant upon the pre-supposition that all oversighters and checkusers are also administrators (bug #28440).