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For the VisualEditor deployment on the English Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:VisualEditor.
For character mode editors, see Visual editor.
VisualEditor text format menu.png
VisualEditor's text formatting menu
Developer(s) Wikimedia Foundation and Wikia
Development status Live beta
Written in JavaScript, Node.js, PHP
Operating system Cross-platform
Platform MediaWiki extension
Type Wiki
License MIT[1]

VisualEditor (VE) is a project to provide a "visual" or "WYSIWYG-like" online rich-text editor as a MediaWiki extension to Wikipedia. It was developed by the Wikimedia Foundation in partnership with Wikia.[2][3] The beta was enabled by default with the ability to opt out in July 2013 for and several of the largest Wikipedias.[3][4]

The Wikimedia Foundation considered it the most challenging technical project to date, while The Economist has called it Wikipedia's most significant change.[5] According to the The Daily Dot, Wikimedia Foundation's pursuit of wider participation may risk alienating existing editors.[6] 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.[7][8]


Presentation from Wikimania 2013: VisualEditor - The present and future of editing our wikis: The programming team who developed the software talks about it

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.[9] 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.[5][6] It was part a $1m project developing new features and making improvements.[5] An aim of the project is to allow both the former wiki markup editing and editing with the WYSIWYG VisualEditor.[10] 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.[6][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."[4] 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",[11] and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales remarked “This is epically important”.[12]


MediaWiki is used by a large number of wikis, with smaller sites originally conceived as being rolled out first.[13] VisualEditor was planned to be rolled out on the English-language Wikipedia for editors with registered accounts, and then for anonymous editors.[14] The alpha version was made available to select users in December 2012, widened to all registered users in April.[15] It then became the default editor for users logged-into the English-language Wikipedia in July 2013.[3][4][6] It was subsequently made opt-in on the English-language Wikipedia in September 2013, but remains enabled by default for around 200 language editions of Wikipedias.[16]


Parsoid HTML-RDFa content model
Main article: MediaWiki

The first attempt at developing the VisualEditor failed, after which the Wikimedia Foundation joined forces with Wikia to complete the project.[disputed ][17][18] 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.[17] The technical implementation required improvements to MediaWiki in parsing, wiki markup language, the DOM and final HTML conversion.[19] 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.[17] Wikipedia considered it the most challenging technical project to date.[5]

As of April 2015 supported web browsers include modern versions of Chrome, Firefox, Midori, Opera, Safari and Internet Explorer (10+).

The VisualEditor extension is available for download by server operators and requires MediaWiki 1.25+.

Online rich-text editor[edit]

According to the VisualEditor project, the aim is "to create a reliable rich-text editor for MediaWiki",[20] a "visual editor", "WYSIWYG-like".[21] The implementation is split into a "core" online rich-text editor independent of MediaWiki,[22] and a MediaWiki extension.[23] The MediaWiki extension is 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).[4][17]


According to the The Daily Dot, Wikimedia Foundation's pursuit of more users may be at the risk of alienating the existing editors.[6] Some experienced editors have expressed concerns about the rollout 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.[6][24] Despite these complaints, the Wikimedia Foundation continued with the rollout.[6] According to The Register "Our brief exploration suggests it certainly removes any need to so much as remember what kind of parenthesis belongs where."[15] According to The Economist's L.M., it is "the most significant change in Wikipedia's short history."[5] Softpedia ran an article titled "Wikipedia's New VisualEditor Is the Best Update in Years and You Can Make It Better".[25] Some opponents say that users may feel belittled by the implication that "certain people" are confused by WikiText and therefore need the VisualEditor.[26]

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 single 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.[7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ other text editors are supported; see Wikipedia:Text editor support
  2. ^ Respective Wikipedia websites: Arabic, Portuguese and Indic languages' Urdu, Hindi, Bihari, Gujarati
  3. ^ "Parsoid". 


  1. ^ LICENSE.txt, VisualEditor source code repository,
  2. ^ Andrew Webster (2012-06-22). "Wikimedia releases updated prototype for simplified visual editor". The Verge. Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  3. ^ a b c "Wikipedia:VisualEditor". Wikipedia. Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d 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. 
  5. ^ a b c d e L.M. (2011-12-13). "Changes at Wikipedia: Seeing things". The Economist. Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Tim Sampson (2012-07-04). "Will Wikipedia's pretty new editing software solve its recruitment crisis?". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  7. ^ a b Andrew Orlowski (2013-09-25). "Revolting peasants force Wikipedia to cut'n'paste Visual Editor into the bin". The Register. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  8. ^ a b Tim Sampson (2013-09-24). "Wikipedia faces revolt over VisualEditor". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2013-09-25. 
  9. ^ Martin Brinkmann (2012-02-24). "Wikipedia Visual Editor Coming Soon". ghacks. Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  10. ^ ehe (2011-12-14). "Wikimedia testing visual editor". h-online. Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  11. ^ Megan Garber (2012-07-12). "On the Ugliness of Wikipedia". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  12. ^ Gene Ryan Briones (2012-06-21). "Wikimedia launches new prototype "visual editor" for Wikipedia". Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  13. ^ Jamie Keene (2011-12-15). "Wikimedia Foundation previews simplified visual editor". The Verge. Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  14. ^ Gabriela Vatu (2013-06-06). "Wikipedia's Visual Editor to Be Rolled Out". Softpedia. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  15. ^ a b Simon Sharwood (2013-06-07). "Wikimedia edges closer to banishing Wikitext". The Register. Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  16. ^ "VisualEditor". 
  17. ^ a b c d djwm (2012-12-13). "VisualEditor launched in Wikipedia". h-online. Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  18. ^ ehe (2011-12-14). "Wikimedia testing visual editor". h-online. Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  19. ^ Sumana Harihareswara, Guillaume Paumier. "The Architecture of Open Source Applications (Volume 2) : MediaWiki". Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  20. ^ "VisualEditor". 
  21. ^ "VisualEditor:Welcome". 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Andrew Orlowski (2013-08-01). "Wikipedians say no to Jimmy's 'buggy' WYSIWYG editor". The Register. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  25. ^ 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. 
  26. ^ 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. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Roth, Amy, Rochelle Davis, and Brian Carver. "Assigning Wikipedia editing: Triangulation toward understanding university student engagement." First Monday 18.6 (2013). DOI:
  • 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

External links[edit]