A presentation describing the Toolserver given in 2009 by developer Daniel Kinzler
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Wikimedia Germany's Toolserver project was switched off, marking the end of one of the Wikimedia movement's longest running Chapter-led projects. The Toolserver, which was in fact a collection of servers, first came online in 2005, hosting hundreds of webpages and scripts ("tools") made available for use by Wikimedia readers, editors and administrators.
The Toolserver is survived by its spiritual successor Wikimedia Tool Labs, part of the broader "Labs" project begun by the Wikimedia Foundation as far back as 2011 (see previous Signpost coverage). Tool Labs already holds some 800 tools, many of them migrated from the Toolserver and diverse in their nature. Particularly popular tools, many of them familiar to regular editors, include the Wikidata Game, CatScan (for finding articles in multiple categories) and GeoHack, a tool for placing article subjects onto maps. A full index is also available.
In contrast to the Toolserver, which operated a more relaxed policy, all tools hosted on Tool Labs must be open-source, allowing for a more obviously collaborative development environment. In exchange for access to the Wikimedia Foundation’s technical infrastructure, tools must be open-licensed, allowing them to be redistributed and remixed in a similar way to on-wiki contributions.
The Tools project is, however, just one part of Wikimedia Labs, which also incorporates a broad array of more than 150 other standalone software "projects" (collections of one or more virtual machines). The growing need for these other projects, which include test versions of Wikipedia and its sister projects, provided one motivation for a changeover which at times has been far from uncontroversial (see previous Signpostcoverage).
Over recent weeks, the Toolserver continued to receive millions of hits per day and users are advised to keep an eye out for broken links and missing functionality as developers adjust to the new environment. In some cases, tools may need new owners to migrate and/or adopt them over the longer term. A page on MediaWiki.org records notable absences, and a table has been created to show replacements.
Not all fixes may have gone live to WMF sites at the time of writing; some may not be scheduled to go live for several weeks. "In brief" incorporates text fromTech news, a global community-led publication prepared by tech ambassadors (subscribe or unsubscribe).
MediaWiki updated: The latest version of MediaWiki (1.24wmf11) was added to test wikis and MediaWiki.org on 26 June and non-Wikipedia wikis on 1 July, and will be deployed to all Wikipedias on 3 July (calendar). Users are unlikely to notice any significant changes.
New search engine to complete its rollout: New search backend CirrusSearch was enabled on June 30 as the primary search method on 34 new wikis, including the Czech (cs), Danish (da), Finnish (fi) and Hebrew (he) Wikipedias. The team behind it is now targeting the remaining 11 wikis in order of increasing size, with the English (en) Wikipedia the last to receive the update on August 27 (wikitech-l mailing list). Although focused on sustainability, the change also tweaks and extends the availability of features including wikitext and regular expression-based searching.
Perfect forward secrecy enabled: As of 1 July, all Wikimedia wikis have perfect forward secrecy enabled (see also bug #53259). The protocol strengthens the integrity of encrypted communications in the context of later exploits and has assumed particular significance in the wake of the Heartbleed bug and NSA spying revelations.
Global renames coming: Starting on 9 July, it will be possible to globally rename global (SUL-enabled) users (wikitech-l mailing list). The feature is regarded as an important step before SUL finalisation can be implemented, since it prevents unified users from later fragmenting their accounts (a point noted as early as February 2012: see previous Signpostcoverage). The project to achieve finalisation has been underway since April 2013 but had been stalled.
User is blocked notice extended: Users will soon see block information when they visit the contributions page or try to edit the user page or user talk page of a user who is affected by an IP range block (bug #20790).