Developers descend on Haifa; wikitech-l discussions; brief news
Developers descend on Haifa
The OpenZim offline wiki project has sponsored several of its developers, allowing them to meet with Wikimedia representatives in Haifa.
With Wikimania 2011 set to begin on 4 August, a number of developers are getting ready to make the trip to Haifa in Israel. Indeed, even before the annual Wikimedia conference begins, two events are likely to catch the eye of the technically aware traveller (for those not making the trips, The Signpost will present a round-up of events in forthcoming issues). The first is a special "Developer Days" event, held on 2 and 3 August, to which 39 Wikimedians are already subscribed. Its schedule includes a workshop period for those interested in getting involved in MediaWiki development as well as a series of "lightning talks" about MediaWiki development. The second preliminary event is a meeting for "everyone interested in technical details around Wikipedia Offline... and get[ting] involved with openZIM"; the OpenZIM Project has sponsored several developers' attendance at the meetup.
When Wikimania proper begins, the schedule is likely to be as intense, although in general organisers have tried to avoid running sessions developers might be interested in concurrently (instead, one of the five "tracks" – analogous to stages at music festivals – has more or less been allocated to technical issues). Planned sessions include a number on topics with which Signpost readers will be very familiar: one on the ResourceLoader, another on Wikimedia Offline (including OpenZIM); two on Wikimedia's support for mobile devices (WMF Mobile Research and Wikimedia Mobile Panel) and a fifth on Testing for MediaWiki, which is set to include both an overview of existing functionality and practical advice for developers on how to take advantage of it. There is also a talk by Brion Vibber planned entitled Editing 2.0: MediaWiki's upcoming visual editor and the future of templates.
Other talks over the three day conference focus on other common issues, including interwiki links (Interlanguage links in Wikipedia and Discussion and Improvement Proposals for the Current Interwiki Linking System on Wikipedia), cross-wiki transclusions (CoSyne: Multilingual Content Synchronization with Wikis and A framework to visualizing wiki-based transclusion) and combating vandalism (Autonomous Detection of Collaborative Link Spam). Four more talks focus on very specific issues: A Qt library for MediaWiki, and what you can do with it (demonstrating a new tool to edit MediaWiki built using the cross-platform Qt framework), Opening up Wikipedia's data, The Site Architecture You Can Edit (focussing on Ryan Lane's effort to devolve basic sysadmin tasks to local administrators) and a proposal for Collaborative Watchlists.
Among less specific talks due to be held in Haifa next week is Ask the Developers (a question-and-answer panel) and a talk entitled Wikimedia Operations Overview. The Foundation's Guillaume Paumier will attempt to acknowledge and ease the potential for WMF staff to "appear to the community as ignoring requests, lacking transparency, and thus lacking accountability" (Wikimedia technical staff vs. the World) while Volunteer Development Coordinator Sumana Harihareswara will talk on How to get what you want from MediaWiki developers. There will also be a talk for those wanting A brief introduction to MediaWiki extension development.
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
- The Toolserver experienced difficulties for 90 minutes on 31 July following a hardware failure affecting its Cassia server (toolserver-l mailing list).
- On 25 July an update was made to the Code Review extension, which enables developers to check all revisions made to the MediaWiki software that power Wikimedia wikis (more software deployments).
- Resetting your email address now requires confirmation of your password, preventing session hijacking attempts that look to get a password recovery email sent to the hijacker's email account (bug #20185).
- There was renewed discussion about various outstanding proposals to modify the standard diff colours for MediaWiki (some wikis, including the French Wikipedia, have already chosen to move away from the green and yellow that ships by default). An additional proposal was to offer a high contrast version as an optional preference (wikitech-l mailing list).
- Two wide-ranging threads on the wikitech-l mailing list focussed on updating the current advice for contributors to the MediaWiki codebase. "On refactorings and huge changes" focussed on an appeal by Chad Horohoe to developers to work on their own branches, whilst a separate appeal made by Lead Software Architect Brion Vibber was entitled "Please don't commit broken code".
- With the resolution of bug #29402, fundraising banners are unlikely to be displayed on mobile devices this year in their now standard image-heavy form.
- Deputy Director Erik Möller led calls on 29 July to honour the spirit on sysadmin appreciation day and thank those at the Foundation responsible for keeping the servers running (wikitech-l mailing list).