We’re pleased to announce Beta Features, a way you can try out new features on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites before they are released for everyone.
Beta Features lets developers roll out new software in an environment where lots of users can use these features, then give feedback to help make them better.
You can think of it as a digital laboratory – where community members can preview upcoming changes and help designers and engineers make improvements based on their suggestions.
Here are the first beta features, which we are testing this week:
- Media Viewer
- Improve your multimedia viewing experience with this new tool. Media Viewer displays images in larger size on pages that have thumbnails. Images are shown in a nicer light box overlay, and can also be viewed in full size. Discuss this feature.
- VisualEditor makes it easy to edit pages without having to learn wiki code. Beta Features includes an opt-in version of this tool on sites where it is available, but not yet enabled by default. We’re also adding new experimental features that enhance VisualEditor (see below). Discuss this feature.
- VisualEditor formulae editing
- With this opt-in feature, you can add support inside VisualEditor for creating and editing mathematical formulæ like algebra or equations on pages you’re working on. Discuss this feature.
- Typography Refresh
- This beta feature makes text more readable, accessible and consistent. It updates the Vector skin to use serif fonts in section headings and sans-serif in the body copy, for a better visual experience. Scheduled for first release on 14 November. Discuss this feature.
How you can help
To test new features, check the items you want in the new Beta Features section of your user preferences and click ‘Save’ (see screenshot). You can also automatically enable all new beta features as they are released, if you like, and turn off any of these options anytime. To make it easier for you, a small ‘Beta’ link will show up next to ‘Preferences’ in your personal tools (the line at the top right of the page, or top left in right-to-left environments) when this extension is released worldwide in November.
Please try out Beta Features and let us know what you think in the comments below or on the discussion page. You can also comment on each feature’s discussion page (see links above and on your Beta Features preferences page). If you find any technical bugs, please report them in Bugzilla. Depending on your feedback, we plan to release Beta Features on all wikis on 21 November 2013.
Beta Features was created by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Design and Multimedia teams, in collaboration with the VisualEditor and Mobile teams. These and other teams will be adding more features every few weeks going forward. We also invite community developers to start testing their new improvements in Beta Features in coming weeks by working closely with WMF designers and engineers. To create your own Beta Feature, please read these helpful tips, check this technical documentation and post your submission on the queue for new Beta Features.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the folks who made this project possible, including Jon Robson, Ed Sanders, Gergő Tisza, Bryan Davis, Brian Wolff, May Galloway, Keegan Peterzell, Maggie Dennis, Quim Gil, Erik Moeller, Howie Fung, Rob Lanphier, and Tomasz Finc, to name but a few. We’re also grateful to all the community and team members who helped create this system, and we look forward to many more productive collaborations in the future. :)
Have fun, and don’t forget to let us know what you think!
Fabrice Florin, Product Manager, Multimedia
James Forrester, Product Manager, VisualEditor
Mark Holmquist, Software Engineer, Multimedia
Jared Zimmerman, Director of User Experience
Wikimedia Foundation’s Engineering and Product Group