Wikipedia:VisualEditor/Updates/November 20, 2013

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Since the last newsletter, the VisualEditor team has worked on some feature changes, major infrastructure improvements to make the system more stable, dependable and extensible, some minor toolbar improvements, and fixing bugs.

A new form parsing library for language characters in Parsoid caused the corruption of pages containing diacritics for about an hour two weeks ago. Relatively few pages at the English Wikipedia were affected, but this created immediate problems at some other Wikipedias, sometimes affecting several dozen pages. The development teams for Parsoid and VisualEditor apologize for the serious disruption and thank the people who reported this emergency at Wikipedia:VisualEditor/Feedback and on the public IRC channel, #mediawiki-visualeditor.

There have been dozens of changes since the last newsletter. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Accidental deletion of infoboxes and other items: You now need to press the Delete or ← Backspace key twice to delete a template, reference or image. The first time, the item becomes selected, and the second time, it is removed. The need to press the delete key twice should make it more obvious what you are doing and help avoid accidental removals of infoboxes and similar (bug 55336).
  • Switch from VisualEditor to the wikitext editor: A new feature lets you make a direct, one-way editing interface change, which will preserve your changes without needing to save the page and re-open it in the wikitext editor (bug 50687). It is available in a new menu in the action buttons by the Cancel button (where the "Page Settings" button used to be). Note that this new feature is not currently working in Firefox.
  • Categories and Languages are also now directly available in that menu. The category suggestions drop-down was appearing in the wrong place rather than below its input box, which is now fixed. An incompatibility between VisualEditor and the deployed Parsoid service that prevented editing categories and language links was fixed.
  • File:, Help: and Category: namespaces: VisualEditor was enabled for these namespaces the on all wikis (bug 55968), the Portal: and Viquiprojecte: namespaces on the Catalan Wikipedia (bug 56000), and the Portal: and Book: namespaces on the English Wikipedia (bug 56001).
  • Media item resizing: We improved how files are viewed in a few ways. First, inline media items can now be resized in the same way that has been possible with block ones (like thumbnails) before. When resizing a media item, you can see a live preview of how it will look as you drag it (bug 54298). While you are dragging an image to resize it, we now show a label with the current dimensions (bug 54297). Once you have resized it, we fetch a new, higher resolution image for the media item if necessary (bug 55697). Manual setting of media item sizes in their dialog is nearly complete and should be available next week. If you hold down the ⇧ Shift key whilst resizing an image, it will now snap to a 10 pixel grid instead of the normal free-hand sizing. The media item resize label now is centered while resizing regardless of which tool you use to resize it.
  • Undo and redo: A number of improvements were made to the transactions system which make undoing and redoing more reliable during real-time collaboration (bug 53224).
  • Save dialogue: The save page was re-written to use the same code as all other dialogs (bug 48566), and in the process fixed a number of issues. The save dialog is re-accessible if it loses focus (bug 50722), or if you review a null edit (bug 53313); its checkboxes for minor edit, watch the page, and flagged revisions options now layout much more cleanly (bug 52175), and the tab order of the buttons is now closer to what users will expect (bug 51918). There was a bug in the save dialog that caused it to crash if there was an error in loading the page from Parsoid, which is now fixed.
  • Links to other articles or pages sometimes sent people to invalid pages. VisualEditor now keeps track of the context in which you loaded the page, which lets us fix up links in document to point to the correct place regardless of what entry point you launched the editor from—so the content of pages loaded through /wiki/Foobar?veaction=edit and /w/index.php?title=Foobar&veaction=edit both now have text links that work if triggered (bug 48915).
  • Toolbar links: A bug that caused the toolbar's menus to get shorter or even blank when scrolled down the page in Firefox is now fixed (bug 55343).
  • Numbered external links: VisualEditor now supports Parsoid's changed representation of numbered external links (bug 53505).
  • Removed empty templates: We also fixed an issue that meant that completely empty templates became impossible to interact with inside VisualEditor, as they didn't show up (bug 55810).
  • Mathematics formulae: If you would like to try the experimental LaTeX mathematics tool in VisualEditor, you will need to opt-in to Beta Features. This is currently available on Meta-wiki, Wikimedia Commons, and Mediawiki.org. It will be available on all other Wikimedia sites on 21 November.
  • Browser testing support: If you are interested in technical details, the browser tests were expanded to cover some basic cursor operations, which uncovered an issue in our testing framework that doesn't work with cursoring in Firefox; the Chrome tests continue to fail due to a bug with the welcome message for that part of the testing framework.
  • Load time: VisualEditor now uses content language when fetching Wikipedia:TemplateData information, so reducing bandwidth use, and users on multi-language or multi-script wikis now get TemplateData hinting for templates as they would expect (bug 50888).
  • Reuse of VisualEditor: Work on spinning out the user experience (UX) framework from VisualEditor into oojs-ui, which lets other teams at Wikimedia (like Flow) and gadget authors re-use VisualEditor UX components, is now complete and is being moved to a shared code repository.
  • Support for private wikis: If you maintain a private wiki at home or at work, VisualEditor now supports editing of private wikis, by forwarding the Cookie: HTTP header to Parsoid ($wgVisualEditorParsoidForwardCookies set to true) (bug 44483). (Most private wikis will also need to install Parsoid and node.js, as VisualEditor requires them.)

Looking ahead:

  • VisualEditor will be released to some of the smaller Wikipedias on 02 December 2013. If you are active at one or more smaller Wikipedias where VisualEditor is not yet generally available, please see the list at VisualEditor/Rollouts.
  • Public office hours on IRC to discuss VisualEditor with Product Manager James Forrester will be held on Monday, 2 December, at 1900 UTC and on Tuesday, 3 December, at 0100 UTC. Bring your questions. Logs will be posted on Meta after each office hour completes.
  • In terms of feature improvements, one of the major infrastructure projects affects how inserting characters works, both using your computer's built-in Unicode input systems and through a planned character inserter tool for VisualEditor. The forthcoming rich copying and pasting feature was extended and greater testing is currently being done. Work continues to support the improved reference dialog to quickly add citations based on local templates.

If you have questions or suggestions for future improvements, or if you encounter problems, please let everyone know by posting a note at Wikipedia:VisualEditor/Feedback. Thank you! Whatamidoing (WMF) 21:35, 20 November 2013 (UTC)