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Feedback needed on using special characters
Hello. Thank you for using VisualEditor! Having editors use it is the best way for the Wikimedia Foundation to develop it into the best tool it can be.
While we always welcome general feedback (please report any issues in Bugzilla in the "VisualEditor" product or drop your feedback on the central feedback page on MediaWiki.org), the developers are especially interested right now in feedback on the special character inserter. This new tool is used for inserting special characters (including symbols like ₥, IPA pronunciation symbols, mathematics symbols, and characters with diacritics). It is intended to help people whose computers do not have good character inserters. For example, many Mac users prefer to use the extensive "Special Characters..." tool present at the bottom of the Edit menu in all applications or to learn the keyboard shortcuts for characters like ñ and ü.
The current version of the special characters tool in VisualEditor is very simple and very basic. It will be getting a lot of work in the coming weeks and months. It does not contain very many character sets at this time. (The specific character sets can be customized at each Wikipedia, so that each project could have a local version with the characters it wants.) But the developers want your ideas at this early stage about ways that the overall concept could be improved. I would appreciate your input on this question, so please try out the character inserter and tell me what changes to the design would (or would not!) best work for you.
Issues you might consider:
- How often do you normally use Wikipedia's character inserters?
- Which character sets are useful to you? Should it include all 18 of the character sets provided in the wikitext editor's newer toolbar at the English Wikipedia, the 10 present in the older editor toolbar, or some other combination of character sets?
- How many special characters would you like to see at one time?
- Should there be a "priority" or "favorites" section for the 10 or 12 characters that most editors need most often? Is it okay if you need an extra click to go beyond the limited priority set?
- How should the sections be split up? Should they be nested? Ordered?
- How should the sections be navigated? Should there be a drop-down? A nested menu?
- The wikitext editor has never included many symbols and characters, like ℗ and ♀. Do you find that you need these missing characters? If the character inserter in VisualEditor includes hundreds or thousands of special characters, will it be overwhelming? How will you find the character you want? What should be done for users without enough space to display more than a few dozen characters?
- Should the character inserter be statically available until dismissed? Should it hover near the mouse? Should it go away on every selection or 10 seconds after a selection with no subsequent ones?
- Some people believe that the toolbar already has too many options—how would you simplify it?
The developers are open to any thoughts on how the special character inserter can best be developed, even if this requires significant changes. Please leave your views on the central feedback page, or, if you'd prefer, you can contact me directly on my talk page. It would be really helpful if you can tell me how frequently you need to use special characters in your typical editing and what languages or other special characters are important to you.
Thank you again for your work with VisualEditor and for any feedback you can provide. I really do appreciate it.