On Wikimedia wikis, most important information about files (such as author and copyright information) is buried within the file description page itself, and is difficult for automated tools to extract. Last week, a new development project aiming to separate elements of that data into a separate database table, and exposing it via the MediaWiki API, was announced (wikitech-l mailing list). Developer Bryan Tong Minh described the project:
As you may have noticed [from the coverage of the Dutch Hack-a-ton], Roan, Krinkle and I have started to integrate more tightly image licensing within MediaWiki. Our aim is to create a system where it should be easy to obtain the basic copyright information of an image in a machine readable format, as well as querying images with a certain copyright state (all images copyrighted by User:XY, all images licensed CC-BY-SA, etc). At this moment we only intend to store author and license information, but nothing stops us from expanding this in the future.
Technical issues were discussed on the mailing list, as was the possibility of expanding the scheme into extracting other forms of data from pages, on a par with Semantic MediaWiki. Michael Dale suggested that it could be discussed at the forthcoming Data Summit. In the mean time, contribution on the current projecttalkpage was requested.
"Indisputable improvement" in multimedia uploading
The finished licensing tutorial, an SVG that has been translated into more than 25 languages since its publication in November
Also last week, the Multimedia Usability project published a report about its achievements. The project, funded by a $300,000 grant from the Ford Foundation from October 2009 to November 2010, created the new "upload wizard" and a cartoon-based licensing tutorial (see previousSignpost coverage). With these in place, the report heralded an "indisputable improvement" in users' experiences of the upload process:
The project's goal was to increase multimedia participation on Wikimedia websites. The main means chosen to reach this goal was to facilitate the upload process to Wikimedia Commons, the central media repository for Wikimedia sites...
A usability study was conducted by an independent firm, who compared the existing and new upload systems. Their results showed an indisputable improvement of the users' experience. Long-term impact of the project is still to be assessed. The Wikimedia Foundation indicated its intention to continue to improve the upload system beyond this project, and to support volunteers worldwide who share multimedia files on Wikimedia Commons.
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.
Wikimedia Germany (WMDE) has decided not to hold a developer meetup around its international Chapters' conference in March (as it had done last year), but will instead run a hackathon in May, in addition to the combination of technology presentations and programming sessions available at Wikimania 2011 in August (wikitech-l mailing list).
Developer Magnus Manske posted a series of updates on how his WYSIFTW editing tool: development is progressing, but at the cost of processing time, particularly on older browsers, though even this is being improved rapidly (wikitech-l mailing list, see also previous Signpost coverage for context).
Ryan Lane noted that his integration of OpenStack - software which allows users to test their code changes on various browser/operating system configurations without actually possessing them - into MediaWiki has been successful in generating an alpha-release extension (wikitech-l mailing list).
Single user login (SUL) was broken briefly on Saturday as the result of developer error. The problem is in the process of being fixed permanently (wikitech-l mailing list).
A job opening for an Operations Engineer has been posted. The position reports to the (recently hired) Director of Operations, and is tasked with "designing, developing and optimizing the technical infrastructure and operations of the Wikimedia Foundation projects and maintaining the security, scalability and availability of the web properties".