Bugs, Repairs, and Internal Operational News
From the editor: As promised, since I have now been writing the report for a year, I am trying out a new "How you can help" box.
Danese Cooper resigns; search on for new CTO
On 2 June, the Foundation's Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Danese Cooper, announced her resignation from the post after 16 months (WikimediaAnnounce-l mailing list). Cooper, who joined in February 2010 (see previous Signpost coverage), cited the changing requirements of the role:
||Sue [Gardner], Erik [Möller] and I have agreed that there's no longer a fit between the identified near-term needs and goals of the organisation, and my own interests. I've therefore decided to [resign] as CTO, but I remain a friend of the organisation and the mission.
The resignation of Cooper, who has largely remained out of the technology spotlight compared to previous CTO Brion Vibber, nonetheless attracted sympathy on the Foundation-l mailing list. "It is a sad day", wrote Gerard Meijssen, whilst Thomas Dalton commented that "the WMF is significantly poorer for losing you". A fuller summary of the impact Cooper's resignation will have on the overall Engineering hierarchy is expected from Erik Möller shortly. Cooper also said that she would stay on until the end of July to help with the transition; the post of CTO took some five months to fill last time it was vacant.
May Engineering Report published
The Wikimedia Foundation's Engineering Report for May was published last week on the Wikimedia Techblog, giving a brief overview of all Foundation-sponsored technical operations in the last month. The major items referenced were the Berlin Hackathon (see previous Signpost coverage), the deployment of the Upload Wizard as the default uploader on Wikimedia Commons (previous coverage), the continued "development, deployment and roll-out" of the Article feedback tool, and "major progress in reducing our code review backlog".
Also in the report was an explanation for the delays in getting the Virginia data centre up and running (put down to delivery problems), delays in moving dumps to a new server that meant no dump of the English Wikipedia was produced in the month (though work on "puppetising" the servers was successfully begun), and the many troubles that plagued editors and visitors that led to an hour of downtime. The mobile survey launch was also delayed but is planned to go live in mid-July. On the brighter side, two new servers were allocated to improving the mobile viewing experience, and there was excitement about collaboration between MediaWiki developers and those behind a version of the Etherpad document editor that allows real time collaboration. Ryan Kaldari and Jan Paul Posma also completed the first version of the WikiLove extension, which is now pending review and should be deployed in June. During May, a code sprint gave the WMF's version of CiviCRM (donor management software) a huge performance increase.
The report also noted a new project, MoodBar 0.1, described as "a feature to encourage new users to provide feedback" and currently in the initial design stage. A development sprint for the second version of the Resource Loader is also planned for July, and a usability trial of the Kiwix reader (for context, see last week's "Technology Report") was said to have generated "eye opening" initial findings. Meanwhile, on 23 May, Google Summer of Code students started working on their projects full-time, according to the report. The report also suggested that the 1.17 version of MediaWiki should be release this week (beginning 6 June). The Code Review backlog also decreased during the month.
This week will see World IPv6 Day, a 24 hour period when major IPv4 websites test whether they could survive a transition to the new standard. Wikimedia is hoping to participate in the 8 June event, with work on going. In February the final IPv4 block was assigned, emphasising the need for preparations to commence (see previous Signpost coverage); at the time a plan for better IPv6 support was outlined. Since then, the Foundation has been working to improve Wikimedia's support for IPv6. Some statistics are presented at http://ipv6and4.labs.wikimedia.org/; as of the publication date of this issue "on average the load time for a v6 address is 180.10% of the load time of the v4 domain".
Recently, the Toolserver was also converted to a level of IPv6 functionality by its admin, River Tarnell. Tarnell also added TLS support allowing the Toolserver to be accessed via the HTTPS protocol. In unrelated news, HTTP requests to toolserver.org use a Squid reverse proxy instead of a Solaris Cluster.
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.
How you can help
Comment on a BRFA
Have a spare few minutes this week? Help provide outside comment on a Bot Request for Approval (BRFA). Bots undertake large runs of automated edits; community input is vital in deciding whether or not they should be approved.
- The API was changed to enforce the use of a token when watching or unwatching pages to improve security (wikitech-l mailing list).
- With the resolution of bug #29156, the ArticleFeedback tool will no longer appear on the print view of articles.
- In response to a long series of threads about shifting the code review backlog, several programmers pledged to devote a day each week to it (wikitech-l mailing list).
- Developer Simetrical outlined a plan for transitioning more gently to HTML5 mode after attempts to change to it overnight had problems previously (see previous Signpost coverage).
- The reason field supplied when a registered user creates an account will now show in the log (bug #28696).