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Revisiting VE in preparation for an editathon[edit]

My advice to students has been: Don't touch VE, as all your potential mentors will not be using it. It is still in alpha. But each year I revisit VE to see how it has improved. I found one activity where it is the best tool and that is in adding wikilinks in existing text.

However here are my list of no-nos

1. It is so slow to load
2. When you save your work- you have to load VE again from scratch- it is so slow. You advise your students to 'save little and often' and with a room of students on a single IP it dies. When saving there should be a save and continue option
3. When you leave a page without saving- there is no warning and nothing is in a buffer that can be recovered. (This was after doing a page of 20 wikilinks).
4. When adding a citation to a page that uses {-{sfn}-}, {-{sfnref}-} it can't find the existing references. It needs to do that and not to screw up the formatting
5. VE editor doesn't have a indent/unident icon- I am not sure if it can even do it.
6. I looked at the Help- this is not suitable for an end-user: being ordered for a software developer- it is really only a 'look what I have completed list'

More comments will follow as I probe deeper. Nevertheless greetings to all ClemRutter (talk) 10:31, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

  1. 'too slow' I personally don't experience that, but I do know that for 5 percent of the requests it can be rather slow. That is mostly due to first time loading, being on a slow connection, using old computers and when loading very large articles. The same for the old editor of course, but while for 95% the VE editor is at most 4 seconds instead of 2 seconds for WikiEditor, the performance penalty for those last 5% is much worse with VE (unto 20 and more seconds). Time will mostly solve this. (if you are using a 56k modem, i'm sure you wouldn't want to use the Wikitext editor or Wikipedia at all).
  2. 'save and continue'. This has been considered I seem to remember, but I think it requires first completing the move away from Tidy, so that wikitext and Parsoid serializer generate the same visual output when invalid HTML is at play..
  3. 'there is no warning'. That should not be true. It uses the exact same system to guard against this as the wikitext editor, and I just used it, it works. What browser and setup are you using, maybe it's specific to one of those. Related to auto-save and recovery are phab:T132570, phab:T57370.
  4. 'sfn' I don't know enough about this part.
  5. 'VE editor doesn't have a indent/unident icon'. It does for lists... If you mean indentation when there is no list, then I'd note that wikitext doesn't feature such indentation. The only indentation allowed by the manual of style of en.wp is block quotes (and these are available in text style menu). We only have multiple levels of indentation in talk pages, which actually is a fake list. That latter feature will likely not be supported by VE, because it is... terrible, and since VE doesn't support talk pages to begin with, it has little use in VE.
  6. 'this is not suitable for an end-user'. I guess it's meant to be a reference work, not a "Your first steps into VE". I would like to note that such manuals are usually not written by developers, but by the community however. Often because the rules of wiki's also differ per community. There is Help:Introduction_to_editing_with_VisualEditor, maybe we should link it into Wikipedia:VisualEditor/User_guide ? —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 12:43, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the quick response. I am looking at it from the point of view of a tutor, and my own personal choices are minor when confronted with 25 academics who have all brought their own laptops (Androids, Apple, Linux flavours and Microsoft),to the large room in the university that has got the worst internet signal. Don't take offence.
I am giving a snapshot of the system I see today. I am talking about features that users use- we can use bots to convert their faltering first steps to MOS. Use any of my comments to raise tickets or whatever.
sfns are a serious concern- and demand a little study. They are useful because academics are used to the markup- Name, year, page- linking to a full reference below that can be easily typed up using one of our 4 templates which will contain the field (ref= sfn-ref{-{Name, year}-} it also encourages users to leave anecdotes in {-{efn}-} which appear in the notelist, rather than stilting the text to fit them in in-line. Above all they are easy to explain, and correct when they go wrong (important to the tutor).
Our students are usual brilliant in their own field but use computers without any formal training- so it is the KISS principle to the power of the number of people in the room. --ClemRutter (talk) 13:36, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
Why not encourage them to use both? Isn't the main advantage of VE, is its user-friendliness and WYSIWYG-part? I would imagine that most new editors with no prior knowledge to source editing would prefer it. Now doing more intermediate tasks, like sfn etc which aren't implemented yet or are buggy, tell them to go to source editing where their tutors can help them. I personally use VE almost 90 percent of the time now. When I come across such situations like sfn, I just make the same citation again with the relevant page no and when done, switch to source and convert them to sfn. Even the {{rp}} template is can be used temporarily: See Wikipedia:VisualEditor/Feedback/Archive_2016_1#Citing_using_Visual_Editor_.28same_book_but_different_page_numbers.29. Ugog Nizdast (talk) 14:11, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
Mainly we are talking to people who would rather be somewhere else- but as someone in the department had to go they volunteered. We have a very disappointing conversion rate where few actually continue to edit- they are not the sort of people that can be persuaded- they are too busy. Can I give you a link to a beginners training booklet- each course will be tailored a different way this one had referencing on a separate sheet Nottingham Correcting or improving an article for the first time. It is far from perfect- but shows you how we encourage them to use the talk space (no VE) before they hit mainspace. These notes are designed to be read at home as reminders of what was covered. We have no idea what our users backgrounds will be- but all will be familiar with the departmental email text editor, and most will have prepared manuscripts using various WP packages. Very few will be familiar with many mobile phone apps. I have other booklets that demonstrate things like tables, pie-charts etc. and would personally love to have a VE version- so I can switch. I am not in a position to tell, only to suggest. The software must be in a position where it decides when to switch- the switch must be seemless or you frighten the horses. The software must help the user- not the otherway round. If I say the average age of my students is 50+, and they have a lot to contribute if we can persuade them to stay. (sorry real life has intervened- back later) --ClemRutter (talk) 19:42, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
@ClemRutter: and I think it's really useful that you give this feedback, it's really important that we all collect feedback from parties on what works and what doesn't work. Please try collecting as much as possible. I'm not working on this system, and as a volunteer I can only tell you what I know. Some of these points are definitely already on the radar, but tackling them can sometimes take really long, because they will also touch or interact with many systems.
BTW, it would be really cool if once in a while, you could ask a participant if you can video part of their first-steps. That's really valuable information for the developers and UX people. Might give some interesting results. Elitre should know the WMF team that could interface with you on that. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 16:23, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
That would be mw:Wikimedia Research/Design Research. Daisy in particular works closely with the visual editor team. HTH, --Elitre (WMF) (talk) 08:31, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

To chime in on three points:

  • Indentation: if this is being taught to people who are editing articles, that is a mistake. WP:MOS in no way supports this. Indentation is used on talk pages (for which VE is unavailable), but - again - is not used in articles. Any indentation in articles is a result of lists, or block quotes, or other functionality; it's not done directly. [I'm open to counter-examples, but in the thousands of articles that I've edited, I've never seen an appropriate use of the colon for indentation, and I've probably encountered such usage in less than a dozen cases.]
  • In-line help: No, VE doesn't have this (except for some programmer-written, less-than-helpful help in the Options dialog), though VE should. Or, to be explicit, what VE should have is built-in variables that allow each language community to write their own in-line help information, and such information should be able to include links, so that an editor who doesn't get enough help from the pop-up help item can then drill deeper into the Wikipedia documentation. (Communities could start by using chunks of their VE user manual, where the translation has been done.)
  • VE doesn't handle unusual locations of footnotes very well, if at all. {{Sfn}} is one example; footnotes inside of templates (typically infoboxes) is another; footnotes inside of {{reflist}} is a third (and, in my opinion, the most serious). I sympathize with the VE team, given that taking the position that "it's a user problem" isn't very popular, while solving this purely technically is somewhere between difficult and impossible. What this points out is that the "footnotes are just text that is numbered and displayed in a group, somewhere on the page" approach is fundamentally flawed: references/footnotes/citations should be a completely different layer (namespace). If that were done, then all the non-standard footnote formatting (and there are more than the two I mentioned, above) wouldn't be an issue, because it wouldn't be necessary - it could be handled with user preferences. [End soapbox.] -- John Broughton (♫♫) 16:34, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
In that sheet: typos at "Independant" and "yout". This makes a good short helpful guide, maybe could serve as an example boilerplate for other future editathons; is it at wp-namespace? but I'm sure there must be many other help guides anyway. Ugog Nizdast (talk) 16:55, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the typo spotting.ClemRutter (talk) 10:44, 5 October 2016 (UTC)
Indentation: @John Broughton:The beginner is encouraged to use talk pages, and really we don't want to teach them two editors- hopefully VE will be enabled for Talk very soon, so they can stick with the same editor when they switch. But, within English WP we deprecate indentation in our final articles, but that doesn't mean that the users won't initially attempt to use it. It is part of the learning process to wean them off and introduce them to MOS. Our users may have used it for many years in professional articles they have published elsewhere (or just minuting faculty meetings) and not providing the facility while they are drafting text is an unnecessary hurdle. We can CE later.
Also just because they edit this way- doesn't mean that we have to display it with colons when the text is previewed- we may choose by default to display it as a bulletted list, or as a block quote. ClemRutter (talk) 10:44, 5 October 2016 (UTC)
Clem - I still don't get it. You list, as a no-no (by which I assume that you would have VE behave otherwise) "VE editor doesn't have a indent/unident icon- I am not sure if it can even do it." By contrast, I believe thatthis is a plus - VE doesn't allow editors to do something wrong. It's a much better teaching point, I think, that when a student says "I want to indent a paragraph - I can't figure out how", you say "That's because Wikipedia articles don't use indentation except as part of another technique, such as a block quotation." And sure, indentation is needed on Talk pages, but since VE can't edit such pages, yet, that's besides the point.
And certainly it's a problem that students need to learn two different editing interfaces, one for articles, one for talk pages, but that overstates the problem - talk pages basically involve (a) clicking to add a section, (b) for an existing section, typing colons to add indentation; (c) typing text, (d) pasting URLs, and (e) signing one's posting. If someone does those five things, they're already better than the majority of people who post to talk pages, and their posts have at least 75% of the functionality of what expert Wikipedia editors can do.] -- John Broughton (♫♫) 18:09, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

ClemRutter, could you please provide links to the "Help" that you looked at (item 6 in the original list)? Sorry just forgotten it --ClemRutter (talk) 21:51, 17 October 2016 (UTC)

Also, an autosave feature (useful if you accidentally close the wrong tab) may be released soon. (Warnings about closing tabs without saving content are provided by your web browser, not by web pages themselves.) Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 18:39, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

I have put the pdfs of the training booklets on commons commons:Category:Wikimedia UK training booklets. Do any of you folk know where I can upload the source .odts?--ClemRutter (talk) 21:51, 17 October 2016 (UTC)
At the session which involved adding sound files uploaded by the British Library into Infobox on as many Wikipediae as had articles on each of the target birds, we came across an interesting problem with Farsi which at the time of editing exclusively used VE. I tried to replicate it later- but ran out of time. Yesterday I attempted to use VE to add the .ogg into the image_caption field of the Arabic Infobox- having taken the precaution of having an Egyptian Post Grad sitting next to me.
This shot shows the problem of using the Visual Editor to enter mixed r-l and l-r text in the Arabic Infobox- the file name is clear but the square brackets jump into the wrong position, including into the middle of the filename
The Wikipedia:GLAM/British Library/British wildlife edit-a-thon 2016 held on 8 October 2016 at the British Library. During this edit-a-thon wildlife lovers and Wikipedians selected sound files from the list in the link, and placed them firstly in (en) file of that particular bird- I was working with green wood hoopoes and black cuckoos. That done they entered a wikidata statement "audio is" and could see a complete list of Black Cuckoos in every language. It is here I found a x-wikilink to and here is the sound file.File:Black Cuckoo (Cuculus clamosus) (022A-WA03044X0014-0013M0).ogg
The problem is using the Visual Editor to enter mixed r-l and l-r text in parameter fields. I was using Firefox 48.0 for Linux but I suspect it is a universal. ClemRutter (talk) 21:51, 17 October 2016 (UTC)
I suspect that it's "universal" in the sense that this formatting, although it looks completely broken to us native English speakers, is actually the proper wikitext syntax for a link like that. There are a couple of RTL native speakers in the WMF; I'll ask one of them to double-check – but the short answer is, if that worked when you clicked the "Insert" button, then that was the proper wikitext. ("Rich editing" of template parameters, which would let you bypass this whole mess by using Insert > Media instead, is planned.) Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 15:27, 21 October 2016 (UTC)

Poke at the 2017 wikitext editor[edit]

The current version of the mw:2017 wikitext editor can be seen via Beta Features at the Beta Cluster.

Create an account (do *NOT* use a password that you use anywhere else; this is one of the WMF test sites that gets the newest/most broken code, so there's always a chance of a security problem) and login. Go to and enable the "new wikitext editor" item. Then go to (or any article) and see what it looks like when you switch back and forth.

BTW, the devs expect to have a basic auto-saving feature by the time is stable enough to move to the regular projects. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 21:53, 26 September 2016 (UTC)

I was eager to examine the new wikitext editor concept, but the Beta Cluster wiki blocked me with a blank captcha when I tried to create an account. Alsee (talk) 07:42, 28 September 2016 (UTC)
Alsee, I thought you had created several accounts there months ago. Well, if it's not working at the moment, then I recommend trying again tomorrow. The Beta Cluster is frequently at least partially broken (its main purpose is to give devs a safe place to break stuff), but it usually gets fixed within a few hours or a day at most. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 17:14, 28 September 2016 (UTC)
Whatamidoing (WMF) I tried to use it, but I don't understand how it works... I tried following the link you gave, I didn't see any difference with the classic wikitext editor : how can we know if we're using the new editor ? I then tried from VE to go to source editing and ended up with a blank page (many lines, but no text displayed). --NicoV (Talk on frwiki) 14:01, 5 October 2016 (UTC)

NicoV, here's some screenshots:

I'm not getting a blank page now (and a lot of the code changed yesterday). Can you still reproduce this? Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 16:59, 5 October 2016 (UTC)

Whatamidoing (WMF) I tried at home, it works, maybe it's because I'm stuck with an old Firefox at the office (I will try again). First remarks:
  • It's slow to load...
  • Small bug on ==Test== not detected as a heading (maybe the missing whitespace characters ?)
  • Disappointed for the moment because of missing features (I hope they will be included before actual release):
    • Syntax highlighting (I have the gadget enabled on the old wikitext editor, and even if it's not perfect it's very useful)
    • The editing tools seem to be available only to insert a new template/ref/link/... but not to edit an existing one
Other than that, the concept seems ok. --NicoV (Talk on frwiki) 05:42, 6 October 2016 (UTC)
Whatamidoing (WMF) I confirm the blank page on an old Firefox (ESR 31.2)... I know it's old but out of my hands to be able to update. --NicoV (Talk on frwiki) 08:33, 6 October 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the note. I wouldn't get your hopes up about syntax highlighting; as is the case with the current scripts, it is only sufficiently performant on higher-powered computers. (Or, if you thought that was slow, then let me show you what slow really looks like.  ;-) This is on the list for "some day, we hope, if we can make this work for everyone" list.
I'm not sure what you mean about editing an existing template, etc. If you're in wikitext mode, then you just edit the wikitext.
I mentioned you in the two Phab tasks. Please feel free to expand or comment there. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 18:29, 6 October 2016 (UTC)
Whatamidoing (WMF) Thanks for phabricator, I dropped a comment for phab:T147585, and phab:T147584 seems to be solved. By editing an existing template, I mean the ability of editing it with an inspector (like the "Insert template" in the toolbar that works only for inserting a new template), rather than just directly in wikitext: it would bring powerful tools to wikitext editor (taking advantage of TemplateData...). And it's the same for other structures (links, images, tables...). --NicoV (Talk on frwiki) 09:21, 7 October 2016 (UTC)
I'll ask what their plans are, but I don't think they're planning to make that possible. (It'll probably take a while to get a solid answer.) Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 20:56, 7 October 2016 (UTC)


User agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; WOW64; rv:49.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/49.0

I cannot upload the new logo of our federation, Febelgra. Message is We could not determine whether this file is suitable for Wikimedia Commons. Please only upload photos that you took yourself with your camera, or see what else is acceptable. See the guide to make sure the file is acceptable and learn how to upload it on Wikimedia Commons.


Febelgra (talk) 07:42, 14 October 2016 (UTC)

Hello, Febelgra. You will have to talk to your own lawyers about whether that image qualifies for copyright protection. If it doesn't (including if it is trademarked but not copyrightable), then you can upload it to Commons. c:Category:Logos of organizations of the Netherlands may give you some ideas about how other people have tagged theirs. Because of a configuration setting created by the volunteers who run Wikimedia Commons, you may need to use c:Special:UploadWizard rather than the in-editor upload system.
If it does qualify for copyright protection, then it could probably be uploaded here as WP:Fair use for the article about your organization. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 15:36, 21 October 2016 (UTC)

VE/Userboxbottom error[edit]

Bug report VisualEditor
Description Userboxbottom/VE Problems.
Intention: I was trying to shorten my Userbox so it would look nice.
Steps to Reproduce: #
  1. Went to my page and initalized VE.
  2. Double clicked the userbox, bringing up the userbox transclusion.
  3. Added userboxbottom to the bottom of the box via trans.
  4. Applied changes, haven't saved yet. VE preview still looks normal.
  5. Saved, and the entire page enters the userbox.
Results: The page itself went into the userbox.
Expectations: Obviously enough, for it to not go into the userbox, and for the userboxes to only be in the group.
Page where the issue occurs (no bugs) (bugged)
Web browser Google Chrome: V. 54.0.2840.59 m
Operating system Windows 7 Professional SP 1
Skin Vector
Notes: Previously took this to Userboxbottom talk, was redirected here.
Workaround or suggested solution Enter Source editing, move userboxbottom onto it's own line.

The Phase Master (talk) 18:39, 17 October 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for your note. It's on the list of known problems. Most templates work fine if they're put on the same line (and some need to be on the same line), but there are a handful, such as this one, that don't work unless they are in the right location. (That template is just the wikitext for closing a table.) Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 16:04, 21 October 2016 (UTC)

Can't Edit Article! (St. Francis Preparatory School)[edit]

User agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/51.0.2704.79 Safari/537.36 Edge/14.14393

URL: I am in fact a member of the "historic" first co-ed graduating class of St. Francis Prep, and cannot figure out how to edit the article's reference to Prep's predecessor school (Bishop Reilly). I'm hoping a member of the Wikipedia team can edit the article as follows:

Section on History references Bishop Reilly High School as having been co-educational, when the school was actually what is known as co-INSTITUTIONAL. There was a girls school on one wing, and boys side on the other (girls on the West, boys on the East), and we ONLY comingled at lunch in the co-ed cafeteria. There were NO co-ed classes. Clubs and certain other extracurricular activities were quite co-ed.

Therefore, please edit the reference to Bishop Reilly to describe it as "co-institutional".

Finally, the title of the article should reference Prep as "St. Francis Preparatory HIGH SCHOOL". It is NOT "St. Francis Preparatory School".

My thanks for whatever attention you'll pay to this edit request!!

Robin R. Hicks (nee Rollins) SFP, '75!! (talk) 04:49, 20 October 2016 (UTC)

I've copied your request to the article's talk page. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:13, 21 October 2016 (UTC)