After spending about 6 months in alpha-beta-development-maybe-kind-live mode, we have recently moved Wikipedia Mobile over to a new fast and sexy server. With this new server, we’ve reached the point in development where we can call this baby “launched”!
When I was brought on board at Wikimedia, I was tasked with endowing Wikimedia with a compelling mobile offering. From the beginning, we knew we were going to focus on “fully featured” smart phones. These phones are taking more and more of the market and we believe they will have an easy majority-share in a couple years. The goal is to build for the future.
At the moment, the Mobile site supports iPhone, Kindle, Android, and Palm Pre. And we fully support both English and German. There are other working languages, but they haven’t been fully translated yet. Our goal is to grow slowly and do it really well. We are starting out simple with limited support in order to test the usability and the platform’s stability. So far, things are looking good.
During the beta test period, we’ve served around 10,000,000 pages. You can view the hourly stats here (updated every hour on the hour). And with this new test server, we should be able to do more.
Based off of requests from Google and the Palm Pre folks… and with what just makes sense. We are doing default mobile redirects. That is, if you open a wikipedia link on a supported mobile device, then you get redirected automatically to the mobile gateway. If you click the “View this page on main Wikipedia” then we disable that redirect with a cookie. This way, the 99% of people using mobile devices to read Wikipedia on-the-go have a seemless experience. And, the 1% who like to edit on their mobile device can use their browser to view the main site and do all the fancy things that they like doing. We suspect an initial outcry from the editors that use their mobile devices, but hope that will calm down. We’ve had very good feedback from the 99% and so we can’t forget those folks. If anyone has any suggestions on how to make this easier for the 1% who are editing while mobile, we’d love to hear from you.
If you want live updates about the Mobile site then you can follow WikimediaMobile on Twitter. Also, if you know any Ruby, you can grab the source code via git from Github and helpout! Feel free to contact me via email with any questions.
Also, special thanks to Nic Williams and Ryan Bigg from Mocra for help with the Ruby 1.9 transition and thanks to Yahuda Katz for help with the XML parsing layer and for all his work on the Merb framework.