Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2018-03-29/Technology report

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Timeless Skin on en.wikipedia.org.png
Timeless skin on en.wikipedia.org

Timeless

Timeless is a browser skin, created in 2015, based on the now-defunct MediaWiki project Winter, which incorporates some suggestions from a 2015 English Wikipedia village pump discussion. It aims to provide equal emphasis on both content and editing tools simultaneously. It will try to do this by creating viewing modes by which one can view only content, or use edit tools simultaneously as well. The skin has been rolled out on many Wikimedia wikis and is in beta stage (mw:Skin:Timeless). A grants proposal has been made to develop the skin into a fully-functional stable product.

Appearance

First off the Timeless skin is a stunner in terms of looks. It provides a respite from the blue–black–grey–white interface design of the other Wikimedia Foundation skins by adding splodges of color where you least expect them: section headings, search bar, Special:Search, etc. The skin centers the text area leaving space on the sides for different menus which are collapsed in smaller resolutions. The skin substitutes intuitive icons for words in lower resolutions. The skin also handles categories differently by placing them as list beside the article rather than as a plain list at the end of the article. The skin's forté is its compatibility with mobile browsers, where it fits like a glove.

What worked for me

  • Pictogram voting support.svg I was able to read articles on my smaller-than-usual laptop far more easily (without using the zoom option of Google Chrome) thanks to the elimination of the the fixed sidebar, which was an unvarying element of almost all the other WMF skins (except for the mobile skin MiniveraNeue).
  • Pictogram voting support.svg I liked the way the skin somehow (most of the time) manages to follow the Visual Style guide of the Wikimedia Foundation and yet look distinctly different, colorful and lively.
  • Pictogram voting support.svg I found no lag whatsoever while using the VE editor, 2017 source editor coupled with syntax highlighting for long periods of time on my mobile, something I had been used to expecting while using Vector on mobile.
  • Pictogram voting support.svg I really liked the fact that the skin automatically enlarged the text so that it fit into any screen I used.
  • Pictogram voting support.svg I personally found the design of the top search bar to be really cool. (I would have loved to have it in Vector.)

What I did not like

  • Pictogram voting oppose.svg Certain elements, such as notices, display oddly while using a smaller screen.
  • Pictogram voting oppose.svg The skin's handling of wide boxes is less than impressive.
  • Pictogram voting oppose.svg I personally don't like the way <code></code> extension displays, neither do I like way the code pages are displayed.
  • Pictogram voting oppose.svg Certain popular Gadgets, such as MoreMenu and HotCat, are incompatible with this skin.
  • Pictogram voting oppose.svg The notification color scheme (grey all the time) does not match with the current MediaWiki system: red for alerts, blue for notices, both of which turn grey on being viewed.

Verdict

I personally liked the skin as it provides a different and refreshing outlook into the interface design of an online encyclopedia. I believe that this skin, if properly developed, could become an effective tool in curbing the rise of Wikipedia readers such as WikiWand. As of now, in its beta stage, I would like to recommend it for those who read Wikipedia on desktop and as an alternative, fully functional web interface for mobile users.