The Foundation's Engineering Update for January (and covering the activities of December) was published last week on the Wikimedia Techblog, giving a brief overview of all Foundation-sponsored technical operations in the last month. It summarised the developments:
In December, the fundraiser was in full swing, with a portion of the Engineering team... supporting the fundraising infrastructure. Danese Cooper [CTO], Erik Möller [Deputy Director], and Alolita Sharma were in India for most of the month, while much of the rest of the team was focused on the ramp-up to MediaWiki 1.17.
In addition to the increasing focus on the 1.17 release of the MediaWiki software and other major developments covered in recent editions of the Signpost, a number of items had their statuses updated since the last Engineering Update. For example, as touched upon in the report's executive summary, technicians travelled to India during the month "to assess technical gaps to success in India." The report noted some of the conclusions of this work: "some areas of localization were identified to standardize on Indic language wikis, such as editing tools and font rendering... [and] offline reading was a recurring topic". In other news, an invitation-only "data summit", cancelled last year, was rescheduled for early February; work progressed rapidly on a new "virtualization cluster" for improved testing; a minor update to the "pending changes" software was released; and a contract was signed with PediaPress to add openZim support to the Collection (PDF-generating) extension. Developers are also looking into better integrating with Kiwix to provide offline copies of Wikipedia to areas with poor or patchy internet coverage, including India.
December also saw the appointment of CT Woo as the Foundation's new Director of Technical Operations (Signpost coverage). The position of "bugmeister" - overseeing the creation and maintenance of bug reports - was removed from the hiring list, but without an appointment. Developer Robert Lanphier explained the decision (wikitech-l mailing list):
We talked to some excellent candidates, but we found it was a trickier spot to fill than we first anticipated, and that we need to rethink our hiring order a little bit. However, as was pointed out on IRC, we've had this hire in our plan for quite some time, and the need is pretty great. Rather than just continue to let this work go undone, we've asked Mark Hershberger (a man of many hats) to step in and fill this role while we sort out our longer term plan. After he wraps up his work on the 1.17 release, he's going to dive into the bug database and start sorting.
Hackaton in the Netherlands
This week also saw a get-together of GLAM (Galleries-Libraries-Archives-Museums) staff, Wikipedia contributors and MediaWiki hackers in the Netherlands (Gerard Meijssen, TheDJ). The meetup, timed to coincide with Wikipedia's tenth anniversary (see this week's "News and notes", saw a number of topics discussed and work completed:
a sentence level editor was demonstrated; the best bit is that usability studies determine its functionality
a first upload button from Open Images to MediaWiki was hacked together
According toZiko, the Wikisnaps tool coded by TheDJ "has a good chance to become the most famous result [of the Hack-a-ton]: With this Apple App, you can take a photograph with your iPhone and upload it within a few seconds to Wikimedia Commons. An Android version is about to come. At the presentation, this tool received a long warm applause."
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.
MediaWiki version 1.16.1 (a minor version with security and other smaller fixes built in) was released (MediaWiki-l mailing list).
The API now supports querying on the system of category member types introduced in August, allowing for separate retrieval of subcategories, files, and pages (bug #24650).
The "Firefogg" Firefox extension was updated to work with newer beta releases of Firefox - beta 7 and after (bug #25926).
Categories which used to contain members (but now don't) will no longer be indexed, for example by Google (bug #26729).
An outage that put all Wikimedia wikis into read-only mode last week was noted by Erictric and ReadWriteWeb, but soon resolved (cf. announcements by CTO Danese Cooper on Twitter ).
The "West Coast Wikiconference" in San Francisco, like the Amsterdam event held on the occasion of Wikipedia's anniversary, saw a session on Non-Textual Media editing, discussing some technical aspects and outlooks of video editing on Wikimedia projects.