Help us shape Wikimedia’s prototype visual editor

Today, the Wikimedia Foundation launched a new prototype “visual editor” for Wikimedia. The visual editor is a new editing environment that won’t require everyone to learn our special markup language in order to contribute to our projects.

Right now, if you try to edit the English Wikipedia’s article about the Wikimedia Foundation, or the Latin Wiktionary’s entry for “futūrus” (about to be), you get a lot of confusing characters interspersed amongst the recognisable text. Though it’s possible to learn what these mean and use them powerfully, many of our editors, and especially new editors, want to contribute content, not learn technical formatting.

We identified the difficulty in learning wikitext as a key inhibitor to growing our editor community in the Wikimedia movement’s strategic plan. We want the process of learning how to edit to be trivial, so our volunteers, both new and experienced, can devote themselves to what they edit. That’s why we’re building the visual editor, so that contributing to a wiki is as easy and natural as other modern editing systems, and new editors are not dissuaded from making their changes.

You may remember a similar announcement in December 2011, when we revealed a developer prototype of our “visual editor,” but after a great deal of feedback, we’ve reworked it so that it’s more useful to our community of users.

We learned a lot from building our first prototype. It was great how many of you helped with feedback, bug reports and comments about how we were doing. In the months since then, based on your feedback and technical issues we encountered, we’ve overhauled the entire editor. We changed the technical design and how it works, rewriting its components so that we can better support more editors. We’ve also integrated it into the MediaWiki platform, so now it can load and edit wiki articles, and not just sit separately.

A screenshot of the new visual editor

To build this iteration of our open-source visual editor, we have been working with some of the team from Wikia, a collaborative publisher that operates the largest network of video game, entertainment and lifestyle wikis in the world. We both believe that this kind of tool should be built not just for the Wikimedia wiki projects, but for everyone using MediaWiki software, and when it’s done we look forward to including the visual editor “out of the box” for anyone setting up a wiki with our software.

Thanks to all this, our new prototype is now live on mediawiki.org. This is just a demonstration, and very far from a finished product — for example, we haven’t yet added image or table handling. It’s currently locked down to only work on a self-contained area of the wiki, so that it doesn’t encounter any unsupported content or break anything else. We intend to work on small pieces of the overall story, releasing a new version every two weeks or so, and adding features one-by-one until the editor is good enough to deploy for everyone (and release in MediaWiki’s core).

Over the next few weeks and months, we will be working with the community — you — to find bugs, to focus on what our priorities should be, and most importantly, to make sure that what we’re building is right for you and that it supports your “workflow.”

So please, try out the prototype, see our frequently-asked questions and tell us what you think.

– The Visual Editor Team: Trevor Parscal, Inez Korczyński, James Forrester, Roan Kattouw, Rob Moen, Subramanya Sastry, Brion Vibber, Gabriel Wicke, Christian Williams.

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24 Comments on Help us shape Wikimedia’s prototype visual editor

Gearldine Synnott 2 years

It’s going to be tough to fight the continually rising tide of government snooping especially as the man in the street believes such matters beyond his understanding, and thus tends to defer to the rulers and their “experts”.

Arman Daneshjoo 2 years

‘wikitext’ is a barrier for both unwanted and useful edits.

Wikipedia is “an encyclopedia that any fan can edit”.
visual editor will make it “an encyclopedia that anyone can edit”.

john 2 years

The editor is at Plugnedit.com

john 2 years

You should look into Plug N Edit drag and drop visual editor.

It is a online editor that functions like desktop publishing software and
allows sites to plugin to the editor.

bitbuerster 2 years

FINALLY! This one is really overdue; when I looked into Wikipedia ~3yrs ago to contribute, it was such a hazzle to do that I decided not to do.
-I want to concentrate on content, not blow my time with yet another markup language.

So: Go for it.

Mayeenul Islam 2 years

Where is the TABLE? The most difficult thing to be made is the TABLE properties. We need a visual table editor. Rest of thing is nice till now. Thanks.

Jeremy 2 years

I think this is wonderful and needs to be implemented as soon as possible. I believe it will really help the project, which as others have pointed out, is in danger of slowly dying if we are not careful.

Mark 2 years

@TCO: I agree.

Have been waiting so long for an integrated, no 3rd party wysiwyg editor from Wikimedia.
Go ahead and I will support you with beeing a reporting tester.

Howtozed 2 years

Thanks Wikipedia, it is need for us such type of Visual Editor for editing Wikipedia Articles as well creating new ones.

jose 2 years

Excelent. But, were is de Reference icon?

TCO 2 years

I think there are a significant number of smart academics and the like who have no interest in learning wikitext. They type up journal articles just fine in MS Word. Wiki has been too long run by programmer types. What matters is CONTENT. The back office stuff should all be taken care of and be flawless, so the “content is king” writers are encouraged. As it is now, the place is starting to die…

Visual editor is an important step forward. WAY, WAY, WAY overdue. Especially given how easy we rake in donations and how much we are banking for rainy days (and wasting on India projects).

Now, could we PLEASE start showing videos in a format that IE users can read? That is just insane to have this open source antipathy to normal format (make the ogg file a require alternative…but at least ALLOW normal browsing by “civilians”.)

Sorbing 2 years

Make a complete and well supported keyboard shortcuts (cyrillic including)

KWB 2 years

Vandalism might be a risk. But for me it is also a chance to apply quick fixes and minor changes. We’ll see..

Robert 2 years

I’ve “inherited” a small Wikimedia installation, pretty much no one edits it because of the need to learn wiki markup. Instead, there are a bunch of Word documents that they uploaded and linked from the main page.

When it first came out, I think the idea of basic wiki markup was pretty cool, a way to split the difference between the power of html and plain text, but things have kept moving. Web based HTML visual editors are a lot better supported and more powerful and lots of people want to use something “simple”. Plus, the various different wiki markup languages make it a pain… which one does one pick (for their own site). All of this leads me to think the visual editor will be great for people using wikimedia installations elsewhere.

Good Luck

subha 2 years

Simply love this stuff!! Good work Visual Editor Team ;-)
Awaiting when it becomes live on Wikipedia and the whole editing scenario changes..this would be really useful to new editors and experienced editors can edit faster with this. Furthermore, Wikipedia will lose to them who complained ever saying “It is too complicated to edit articles on Wikipedia”.

kyng 2 years

Have said it before and I will say it again: syntax highlighting would solve part of the problem. This one color character mix can be hard to edit even for powerusers. And not because they don’t understand but because it’s hard to see where one element ends and another starts.

Still, it could be a improvement for many users.

Rahmanuddin 3 years

Good one for many who get annoyed of editing the traditional way, but at the same time, gestures to be improved upon!

sextus5587 3 years

you wish you could have a sweet comment like 1925625573 this!

Kosboot 3 years

Looks cool. For UX, I suggest that you involve non-Wikimedians at each step of development to test how it comes off to people not used to editing – who are the main audience for this potentially great new tool. Many thanks!

worriedwikipedian 3 years

I am also a bit worried but I hope it has a good effect to attract new editors. It will be interesting to see whether vandalism increases with this new tool once it is fully implemented.

In my case I think I’ll keep using the wiki code.

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