Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement


Video Labs: Kaltura HTML5 Sequencer available on Wikimedia Commons

sequence drag drop

Screenshot showing a search for cats and drag an image into the sequence

I am happy to invite the Wikimedia community to try out the latest Kaltura HTML5 video sequencer as part of a Wikimedia/Kaltura Video Labs project that can now be used on Wikimedia Commons with resulting sequences visible on any Wikimedia project. For those that have been following the efforts, it has been a long road to  deliver this sequence editing experience within the open web platform and within the MediaWiki platform. This blog post will highlight the foundational technologies in use by the sequencer in its present state and outline some of the upcoming features in Firefox 4, and enhancements to the sequencer itself that are set to improve the editing experience.

If you want to just jump into editing, please check out the commons documentation page and play around with the editor and let us know what you think. This project is early on in its development. Your bug reports,  ideas, feedback and participation will help drive future features and how these tools are used within Wikimedia projects.

If you’re interested in Video on Wikipedia in general, please consider joining the Wikivideo mailing list which will cover a wide range topics, including the sequencer, collaborative subtitles, timed text, video uploading, video distribution, format guidelines, and campaigns to increase video contributions to the site.

And finally, if you are in the New York area consider checking out the Open Video Conference coming up October 1st to the 3nd, which will be a great space to hack on open video and work on ideas for the future of video on Wikimedia projects.


Fun with Subtitles

You can chouse your language

You can select your subtitle language

We have just finished up the Multimedia Usability Project Meeting here in France. I am sure there will be more general wrap up coverage of the meeting shortly… but I wanted to share a hack we worked here.

For a long time people have requested subtitle support for mediaWiki embed videos and at this meeting we were finally able to sit down and hack up an initial solution. The system works by putting the srt files into the wiki so people can collaborate on translation and contribution. The naming scheme is “TimedText” followed by the file name followed by the language code followed by .srt . We include a basic editor to upload srt files and switch between between languages. We presently display the subtitles on the side of the video but they should make there way below the video soon. There are lots of supporting projects to work on if anyone is interested ;)

How do I try it out

To try it out install the mwEmbed gadget and then visit either video linked to in this post. Hopefully we can produce some more documentation soon :)

Some quick ideas for enhancements ( I am sure you can think of some too) :

  • A translation interface maybe borrowing from the techniques used on
  • A simple search of subtitles from the current video
  • A more complex search system for subtitles across all videos
  • Timed metadata a-la-metavid
subtitles on commons

subtitles on commons using the mwEmbed gadget

Localization Update: As mentioned in the comments we are still missing some of the localizations msgs. They should be making their way in there soon, along with some other updates.

Michael Dale, Open Source Video Collaboration Technology

New Media Features Gadget

I would like to announce that some of the new media features are now available in gadget form on Wikimedia Commons and the English Wikipedia. These include a new ogg player, the add media wizard, and firefogg upload support. I hope having these components in gadget form will enable some more testing and feedback :)

Getting Started to enable these components you must turn on the mwEmbed gadget. You can turn it on by visiting your preferences page. Once you enable the gadget you should shift reload to ensure you have a fresh copy of the JavaScript. (note you will need to enable the gadget for each wiki you want to test (ie both for wikimedia commons and Wikipedia). Once enabled you can check out the following features: (more…)

MediaWiki’s new discussion system in testing on Wikimedia Labs

I’m very excited to announce that LiquidThreads, the next-generation discussion system that I’ve spent the last few months developing for the Wikimedia Foundation, is now in beta testing on

Sample of the LiquidThreads interface

Sample of the LiquidThreads interface


FlaggedRevs test wiki awaits you!

Apparently due to some miscommunications, a lot of people didn’t realize that the FlaggedRevs labs test wiki has been active and waiting for people to poke at it for a month, since just before Wikimania!

We need interested people to be get up as local administrators to try out the the per-page stabilization settings (accessed via the ‘protect’ tab); by default most pages do not activate FlaggedRevs in the configuration we’re testing for English Wikipedia.

I’ve added a couple quick notes to this affect on the main page.

Update: We’re collecting some folks to be bureaucrats and help set up more test admins so we can get things going quick!

Theora 1.1 Released

Theora 1.1 has been released

Theora 1.1 has been released

Theora 1.1 has been released. This release reflects the efforts of developers who over the past year have done incredible work to greatly improve the core free codec video library. This effort has been support by Mozilla Foundation, Red Hat and others. These improvements include:

  • Better-looking videos or
  • Smaller files at the same quality.
  • Much faster decoder.
  • Two-pass mode for making files just the size you want them.
  • Rigid bitrate controls trade off quality for the needs of live streaming applications.

Chris Blizzard from Mozilla has a detailed blog post about the improvements and what they mean for open video creators, distributors and viewers. Wikimedia foundation makes exclusive use free/open formats and has been a long time supporter of ogg theora and makes use of the free codec in its websites. Wikimedia also helped organize some improvements by administrating a theora improvement grant from Mozilla earlier this year.

Also a new version of ffmpeg2thora has been released using this new codebase making it easy to take advantage of these new features. If you would like to give the new encoder a spin you try it out with the web based firefogg encoding app.

Michael Dale, Open Source Video Collaboration Technology

Massive Theora Encoder Improvements on the Way

As part of the Mozilla development grant Timothy in collaboration with other xiph hackers has been hard at work on improving the theora encoder. I am happy to share an updated report that Monty has put together. I will jump to the zinger:

“Test versions of Thusnelda are pulling *ahead* of h264 in terms of objective quality as bitrate increases”

These objective measurements are based on peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR) values which are not always identical to subjective quality measurements. That being said PSNR is pretty standard objective measurement and good for same content comparisons (1)

New theora encoder 1.5x

New Theora encoder 1.5x

Original Theora Encoder 1.5x

Original Theora Encoder 1.5x

Why is this good news for Wikimedia? Wikimedia only supports free file formats. So these improvements mean that every new video uploaded to commons in the near future will be on par with contemporary industry standard high quality proprietary codec. This highly reduces the subjective quality rational for using proprietary codecs.

Why are free codecs important? Wikimedia (and anyone else that wants to switch to free formats) won’t have to pay millions of dollars to in licensing costs to use the h.264 codec and won’t have to sacrifice quality in the process. More importantly it means anyone can encode or decode these files without paying for a license to do so. This means both free and proprietary software can support this format.  Where as previously only controlled free as in beer distributions like adobe flash could support video on the web.   It enables free software projects like firefogg to package the encoder and give it away for free. It helps opens up the video communication platform for distributed two-way communication.

I should also point out the Open video conference is happening mid June for people interested in an open video event.

OpenStreetMap maps will be added to Wikimedia projects

There has been rapid progress on the subject of adding OpenStreetMap maps to Wikimedia projects (e.g. Wikipedia) during the MediaWiki Developer Meet-Up taking place right now in Berlin.

We now have a clear plan of action for getting OpenStreetMap maps embedded in Wikimedia wiki (e.g. Wikipedia) pages:

  • Wikimedia will set up a database to mirror the OSM data (Planet.osm)
  • Wikimedia will set up its own rendering infrastructure for rendering tiles & other maps from the OSM data
  • The existing MediaWiki extensions for displaying OSM data in a MediaWiki article will be improved to work acceptably in production on Wikimedia servers

To prototype all this we’ll be using new infrastructure provided by Wikimedia Deutschland. Once things have been tested there they’ll eventually be deployed on the main Wikimedia sites.

After discussion with the Wikimedia operations people (including Brion Vibber, Mark Bergsma et al) there seem to be no objections to the above plan as long as:

  • The maps will work not only for JavaScript enabled browsers but also non-JavaScript enabled ones
  • The tools involved are improved to be relatively stable & deployable on Wikimedia, e.g. being able to embed more than one slippy map, the internationalization of error messages etc.
  • The end product (the generated tiles or map files) are cachable so that they can be thrown at the frontend squids, as they’re static images this should be easy.

The featureset that we’re aiming for to be able to deploy this on Wikimedia sites from the view of the user (more can be added later once we’ve got it working) is:

  • The ability to embed OSM maps in articles with something like the Simple image extension, perhaps automagically turning into a Slippy Map if the browser supports it
  • A static or slippy map that can be used by geotagged articles so we can have maps without explicit inclusion of a <map> tag.

We’ll also set up a map toolserver for experimenting with other uses of OpenStreetMap data on Wikimedia. People with relevant projects can get access to this toolserver to try out their ideas for tools that could eventually be integrated on the main Wikimedia sites.

This project is seeking help from anyone who’s interested who’d like to be a part of making this happen, if you want to be a part of adding free maps to the world’s largest encyclopedia please subscribe to this mailing list:

And/or read/edit/comment on the relevant wiki coordination pages:

Add Media Wizard and Firefogg on

I am inviting people to check out the add media wizard and Firefogg on help test go to you user preferences on that server and enable the add media wizard gadget. You can add general feedback here.

This post is cross posted on

Basic Feature Overview:

add media wizard

The Add Media Wizard adds a little “add media” button to every edit page letting you open up media search system to inject images and movie clips into your page. Presently the media search system searches commons, and (note inserts are not yet working because of a redirect bug we should have that fixed soon).

firefog logo

firefogg logo

Firefogg is the really cool extension that everyone using open video on the web should know about! It packages ffmpeg2theora transcoder letting web sites trigger clients uploads of videos from whatever local format they have. Once you have enabled the add media wizard the site upload form gets a little use Firefogg button. Which you can use to enable the transcoder.

You may also want to see Brianna’s blog post made early this year about these media features. Stay tuned for wider gadget deployment ;) … if your can’t wait you can always add

update you can now use the add-media-wizard via the mwEmbed gadget.

to your User:UserName/monobook.js page. (note we have not yet enabled copy by url uploads on the other sites so you can’t import resources from archive sites yet)

Upload-by-URL for

Since we increased the upload filesize limit to 100MB on the main wikis a few months ago it’s been easier to upload large images and medium-size video clips, but there’s always something that’s just a leeeeetle over the limit… MediaWiki’s upload form does have an option for pulling a file from an external web site, which wouldn’t be restricted to the HTTP post limits in the Squid->Apache->PHP system.

We hadn’t been able to deploy it initially on Wikimedia sites because the web servers are walled off and don’t have direct access to the internet; further we were worried about safety given security reports about how the CURL library can follow malicious redirects to local filesystem resources.

On investigation, Tim found that CURL is safe in the default case — you need to explicitly enable redirect following to be exploited, which we don’t. We also have an HTTP proxy which our internal servers can use to reach outside files… I’ve made some tweaks to Special:Upload to support the proxy setting, and it’s now enabled on


My very first URL-uploaded file was a screenshot from one of my blog posts, Spiffy!

The default configuration limits URL uploads to sysops, so for now you’ll need to be a sysop on Test Wikipedia to try it out. If everything seems fairly problem-free we’ll start rolling this out a bit more widely for Commons and other sites.

The upload-by-URL functionality is also needed for future-facing work Michael Dale is working on to allow an on-wiki media picker to fetch freely-licensed files from Flickr,, and other places.