Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Mobile

Revamped Wikipedia app now available on Android

The Main Page of the English Wikipedia on the new Android app.

If you love Wikipedia and have an Android phone, you’re in for a treat! Today we’ve released a revamped Wikipedia for Android app, now available on Google Play.

Our new app is native from the ground up, making it the fastest way to experience Wikipedia on a phone. For the first release, we’ve focussed on creating a great browsing and reading experience. Whether you’re looking up a specific fact or looking to spend a day learning a new topic, our search and table of contents features get you to the information you need, quickly and intuitively. We’re also offering the ability to edit in the app, so you can help make Wikipedia better for billions of readers around the world.

What features are included?

  • Speed – Our new, native app allows you to browse and edit Wikipedia faster than ever before.
  • Editing – You can edit Wikipedia on the app. Logged in or logged out, we thank you for all your contributions.
  • Recent pages – We provide you with your reading history, so you can tap as many links as you like without ever getting lost.
  • Saved pages – You can save select pages for offline reading and browse them even when you don’t have a data connection.
  • Share – Use your existing social networking apps to share in the sum of all human knowledge.
  • Language support – The app allows you to seamlessly switch to reading Wikipedia written in any language.
  • Wikipedia Zero – We’ve partnered with cellular carriers around the world to provide Wikipedia free of data charges to users in many developing areas.

Coming soon

  • Night mode – We’ve gotten lots of great beta user feedback; one feature people love is reading Wikipedia in darker environments. The inverted colour scheme offered by night mode will make that much easier.
  • Discussions – Talk pages are an important part of Wikipedia for both new users and experienced editors alike. We’re bringing them to the app.

This release is just the beginning! We’re still working hard on creating new features to make the app the best Wikipedia reading and editing experience out there. Whether you’re a long-time user of Wikipedia on Android or are brand new to the app, give it a spin and let us know what you think. This is just the first step; we hope this app will grow with us, and we’re excited to have our community help us evolve it.

Please help us improve this app by sending a note to our mailing list, mobile-android-wikipedia@wikimedia.org, or writing a comment here.

Thank you!

Dan Garry, 
Associate Product Manager, Mobile Apps

Ram Prasad Joshi: Writing Wikipedia from the western hills of Nepal

Ram Prasad Joshi

Ram Prasad Joshi doesn’t have a computer. His village may be beautiful but there is no electricity. It’s a three-hour walk to the nearest road. In spite of all this, Joshi has accumulated more than 6,000 edits to the Nepali Wikipedia using nothing more than a feature phone.

An image shot by Ram Prasad Joshi on his feature phone: Devotees paying homage to the Thama Mai Temple (replica of Badimalika, Bajura) in Dailekh

“On Wikipedia I write about geography, history and culture of my surroundings,” he said. “I am a Hindu so I write about the Hindu religion and Hindu culture. I edit and write new articles on the Sanskrit, Hindi, Fijian, Bhojpuri and Gujrati Wikipedias, as well as in Nepali. I can introduce my village, my locality and my culture to the world.”

An image shot by Ram Prasad Joshi on his feature phone: Stone script of Damupal near Kartikhamba in Dailekh established by King Prithivi Malla B.S. 1038 (981 A.D.). It is claimed to be the first stone script in the Nepali Language.

In addition to his writing, Joshi has contributed almost a hundred photographs to Wikimedia Commons. He took part in Wiki Loves Monuments 2013 and his images of archaeological monuments in his area won him the prize for best mobile contributor.

Due to its remote geography, his contributions may be the only representation his village will get online. “No newspapers, no magazines, nothing arrives here,” he explains. “In my village there are many people who have never seen a television. Now the mobile phone emerged, villagers watch videos on mobile, but no-one owns a television.”

For Joshi, his initial introduction to editing began on a somber note four years ago. While living and working in Haridwar, a small city in northeast India, his mother became seriously ill and passed away. “According to Hindu culture, all children should perform the rituals; they have to sit isolated for thirteen days in mourning,” he explained. “I was grieved greatly by her loss. My eyes still become wet when I remember her death. Parents are regarded as the almighty and holy in my culture.”

“I had to find ways to divert my thoughts from the memories of mom. As a way to vent my grief, I began to surf mobile internet more which helped me a lot. I explored the Nepali Wikipedia. I also saw the edit button in each article and the sub heading too. I then learned that I could edit these encyclopedia entries. When I remember my mom, I open Wikipedia and read or edit,” he added.

Fortunately, Joshi might no longer be alone in his editing endeavors; soon others will be able to benefit just as he did. Wikipedia Zero’s partnership with Nepali GSM mobile operator Ncell has given more people the opportunity to learn what Wikipedia is and how they can contribute to Wikimedia projects. “I have conveyed to my family and my villagers about Wikipedia,” said Joshi. “But for most people the Internet is out of reach, so it is a vague topic for them. After Ncell announced [their partnership with] Wikipedia Zero, some have given concern to it. Earlier when I started talking about Wikipedia they treated me as if I had gone mad.”

“Ncell broadcast advertisements for Wikipedia Zero through local radio. Many people now understand that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia of knowledge.”

Ncell’s partnership is ideal for those looking to access and contribute to Wikipedia from a mobile phone, in the same way Joshi has for so long.
(more…)

Wikimedia sites get a new look on tablets

 

Tablet users, rejoice! The Wikimedia Mobile Web team has been working to optimize the mobile view of all our projects, so that reading, browsing, and editing content are all easier on mobile touch screens of any size. Now our changes are finally live on tablets, too!

Why a new tablet view?

Wikipedia and its sister sites were designed long before the rapid growth of smartphones and tablets. For the past two years, we’ve worked to improve the reading and editing experience for smartphone users, and now we’ve turned our attention to tablets. If you’ve used Wikipedia on your phone, you may recognize similarities in the new tablet view. But we’ve also departed from the smartphone experience in some ways, in order to create a tablet-specific experience.

Just the features you need, designed the way you need them

  • Typography and layout. We’ve increased the font size and narrowed the width of the content area to improve readability. These changes are responsive, too, so it looks great whether you’re on a tablet, a phablet – or even the mobile site on your desktop computer.
  • Table of contents and sections. Get to the section you need quicker, but don’t be afraid to lose yourself in the content once you’re there. We’ve taken advantage of the larger screen space that tablets provide and kept article sections open to encourage long-form reading.
  • Last modified byline. Wikipedia is never finished. Getting more readers to see that our content is constantly growing and evolving is a big priority for us. Now you can see at a glance which articles have been edited recently, and which could use some love from contributors like you…
  • Editing. See a typo? Fix it! Simple formatting options and mobile-friendly linking to pages or references are coming soon for all tablet users, and starting this Thursday you can get a preview of this functionality now by opting into our experimental beta site (look for Settings in the site menu and tap to turn on Beta).
  • Other features. The contribution features you know and love, optimized for tablets: uploads, watchlist, page history, notifications, and more.

Your tablet, your choice

If you don’t want to leave the old desktop experience, fear not. You can switch between the desktop view and mobile view from any page by scrolling to the bottom and tapping the “Desktop” or “Mobile” links.

How can I give feedback?

We’re excited to hear from you about these changes! Leave us a comment here and let us know what you think.

Maryana Pinchuk, Product Manager, Mobile

New Wikipedia for Android app now in Beta

Wikipedia Android app (beta) screenshot

The Wikipedia for Android app has a new look, and you can help test its new reading and editing features!

The Wikimedia Foundation Mobile Apps team has just released a beta version of a new Android app to the Google Play Store. This native app features a major design update and focuses on creating a faster and more immersive browsing and reading experience. We’ve added a history of recently viewed articles, so you can figure out how searching for that hot new Summer blockbuster led you to reading about the developmental biology of the jellyfish. We’re also featuring an interactive table of contents to help you navigate long articles and get you to the information you need faster and easier.

In addition to a better reading experience, this new app also offers the ability to edit articles, so you can improve and expand Wikipedia’s content from the convenience of an app. While editing has been live on our mobile site for about a year, this is the first time that we’re offering an editing feature within an app, and leveraging the speed and smoothness of native technology will make contributing to articles via a phone much easier.

If you don’t have a Wikipedia account, you can create one from the app, or log in to an existing account to keep track of your edits across any of the devices you use to contribute to Wikimedia projects.

Android users, help us improve this app! You can download it from the Play Store and use it alongside the existing Wikipedia for Android app. Test out the new features and design before it goes live for all Wikipedia for Android users and let us know what you think; leave us feedback in the Play Store or send your comments to our mailing list, mobile-android-wikipedia@wikimedia.org.

Maryana Pinchuk
Product Manager, Mobile

Wikipedia Zero will accelerate Wikipedia in Nepal

This post is available in 2 languages:
English  • Nepali

Screenshot of Nepali Wikipedia.

This is a guest post from Nepali Wikipedian Ganesh Paudel and does not necessarily express the views of the Wikimedia Foundation. 

On May 6th mobile operator NCELL announced the launch of Wikipedia Zero in Nepal. Wikipedia Zero is expected to be a very useful service in Nepal, where over 90% of internet users access the internet using their mobile phones. The service will provide Nepalese users in very remote areas access to Wikipedia – free of cost. The local Wikipedia community, Wikipedia Education Program leaders, Wiki Poject Med and all volunteer contributors are excited by the news.

The Wikipedia Zero team and local Wikimedians are communicating with Nepal Telecom, the government owned mobile operator company, to encourage them to start this service as well. Throughout the years, Wikipedia has been established as an increasingly effective educational tool. There will surely be an acceleration in use and expansion of Wikipedia after launching Wikipedia Zero in Nepal. Currently, five languages have pages that serve the Nepal Wikipedia community – Nepali, Newari, Bhojpuri, Pali and Sanskrit. Ten other language Wikipedia pages are in test phases. This service will broaden the path to develop local content in all 123 languages spoken in Nepal.

So what exactly is Wikipedia Zero? Wikipedia Zero is a free browsing service that allows users to surf Wikipedia pages without incurring data charges. The name refers to the zero cost of using the service. The Wikimedia Foundation provides this service in collaboration with mobile operators. If the user clicks on an external link, a message will warn them that ‘this service is chargeable’ to ensure that accidental data charges are not acquired.

(more…)

The Wikipedia editors behind the curtain

The last modified bar gives prominence to the editors behind an article. Find it at the top of every page.

Wikipedia has been around for over 10 years and it’s not uncommon, all these years later, for someone to be surprised to learn that this is an encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

The editors of Wikipedia are the real champions that make this project a great success and they don’t always get the credit they deserve. There is no team of editors being paid and certainly no Wizard of Oz-like character pulling the strings. These editors work tirelessly to give you the information you need, spending time fighting spam and keeping Wikipedia the healthy and useful resource you have grown to love. All our editors do this for free out of the goodness of their heart.

The design and mobile web engineering teams have been thinking a lot about this since September. Since then, we have been exploring how we can surface the inner workings of Wikipedia in such a way that helps you understand what’s going on in the background and hopefully compels you to get more involved.

All pages on mobile will now show a “last modified” bar at the top of the page. Its purpose is to give the reader a sense of the health of the article, who last edited it and when it was last edited. It’s green if an article is considered ‘fresh’ and has recently been edited and gray when it has been without an edit for some time, which might indicate that it has been neglected or in need of a refresh. Knowing a bit about the editor also helps paint a picture of where your information is coming from.

Agile and Trello: The planning cycle

This blog series will focus on how the Wikipedia App Team uses Trello for their day to day, week to week, and sprint to sprint development cycle. In its early days, the Wikipedia App was an experimental project that needed flexibility for its evolution. The team looked at a number of tools like Bugzilla, Mingle, and Trello to wrangle our ever-growing to-do list. We found that most imposed a structure that was stifling rather than empowering, cumbersome rather than fun, and was generally overkill for what we needed.

Trello looked attractive as it took no more than a couple of minutes to see its moving parts, was available on multiple platforms, and was simple to customize. We experimented with it and quickly found that we could make it do most of what we wanted.

For those unfamiliar with Trello, it’s a list of lists at its basic level and it functions incredibly well within an Agile framework. Trello uses the concepts of boards, lists, items, and subitems. Boards contain lists which contain items which in turn contain subitems.

Here is how we use it:

Each idea starts out as a narrative or user story on our backlog board. Most of our stories are written in a “As a …, I want to …, So that …” format. This allows us to have a narrative justification for a unit of work rather than a list of technical requirements. Stories begin their life in the “In analysis” column where the product manager (who acts as the product owner) vets the idea with other stakeholders, involves the Design team, and generally incubates the story. Anyone is welcome to add a story to this column.

When the product owner feels that a story has matured enough, they place it in the “ready for prioritization” column with any required design assets. As these stories increase in number, we begin to see the next sprint forming.

Within a couple of days, the team meets and the product manager discusses the theme of the upcoming sprint. A new sprint board is created and the product manager moves the most important 3−5 stories for a deeper analysis by the whole team. The team meets and collectively refines the story cards to have a clear set of acceptance criteria under the checklist column, flags stories that need additional design, and prioritizes them in top down order.

Within a week’s time, the team meets again, but this time their goal is to estimate and do a final pass on each story card. We use a combination of Scrum for Trello and hat.jit.su to facilitate the estimation process. Once all stories have been estimated, the product manager re-prioritizes, checks against our sprint velocity, and the sprint is ready to start.

Thus at any point we have three active boards:

  • Backlog – where all stories start
  • Current Sprint – what developers are working on
  • Next Sprint – what’s coming up next

Next time we’ll see what happens from the developers’ standpoint during a sprint.

Tomasz Finc, Director of Mobile

Wikimedia Bangladesh and Grameenphone arranged a Wikipedia Contributor Day in Dhaka

Participants at the Wikipedia Contributor day organized by Wikimedia Bangladesh and Grameenphone

On Sunday and Monday, 16/17 February 2014, Wikimedia Bangladesh (WMBD) and Grameenphone (a Telenor concern) jointly arranged a two-day long event titled ‘Wikipedia Contributor Day’ with i-Genius students.

Grameenphone/Telenor is a Wikipedia Zero partner. We organized two days of workshops on Bengali Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. Grameenphone chose the participants from last year’s i-Genius students, which are selected from all over the country through a year-long program conducted by Grameenphone and the daily newspaper Prothom Alo. Usually one i-Genius is selected from every district of Bangladesh.

The goal of the workshops were to introduce Wikipedia (especially Bengali Wikipedia), and show the attendees how to edit the articles and contribute photographs to Wikimedia Commons. Most participants were new to Wikipedia, but at the same time we found several of them were already contributing to Wikipedia. It was very inspiring for us.

Munir Hasan, President of Wikimedia Bangladesh, conducted the introductory session. He said that the chapter is trying to focus on creating new editors and volunteers and this initiative will be helpful to create new Wikimedians.

I (Nurunnaby Chowdhury) and another Bengali Wikipedia sysop and Wikimedia Bangladesh EC member, Nasir Khan, conducted workshops at this two-day event with i-Genius students. Grameenphone Limited provided the event venue, at their corporate headquarters located in Dhaka city. On the event days, another sysop of Bengali Wikipedia, Nahid Sultan, was present and helped the attendees to edit and create new articles and so on.

Altogether, over 53 participants attended on the two days of the workshop. We planned for 70 participants, but some of the i-Genius students could not join due to the exam schedule. A few of the interested attendees had experimented with editing Wikipedia, and they had started asking questions to the organizers even before the event was launched!

The workshop was an all-day event with a lot of fun activities. More than 30 participants attended on the first day. After the introduction session, we divided the participants into several groups and one facilitator was assigned to each of the groups. The facilitator helped their group to create and expand a Wikipedia article by themselves. The participants moved around and made friends with each other and the organizers during the lunch break. During the afternoon session, the participants asked to clarify their doubts about editing. Organizers gave a brief introduction about the Wikimedia Bangladesh chapter, and they conducted sessions on how to add references to a Wikipedia article and how to upload pictures to Commons. On the second day, another 30 students joined this program. During the program we delivered hands-on presentations on how to edit, how to contribute, and how to donate photos to Commons. Moreover, we enriched some articles that seemed incomplete. After the successful completion of the program, all i-Genius students receive certificates and my written book about Bengali Wikipedia. This book was published at the last Ekushey Book Fair in 2013.

There were many interesting and engaging queries from a few of the participants who had already edited articles on Wikipedia. It was nice to discover that some of the participants wanted to connect with the local Wikimedia community. Several participants and the organizers wrote to thank us for conducting the workshop. The event was a success in that it introduced the audience to various ways of getting involved with the Wikimedia movement, thereby changing the perception that the only way to get involved is by writing articles online.

Nurunnaby Chowdhury & Nasir Khan, Wikimedians

Language Engineering Events – Language Summit, Fall 2013

The Wikimedia Language Engineering team, along with Red Hat, organised the Fall edition of the Open Source Language Summit in Pune, India on November 18 and 19, 2013.

Members from the Language Engineering, Mobile, VisualEditor, and Design teams of the Wikimedia Foundation joined participants from Red Hat, Google, Adobe, Microsoft Research, Indic language projects, Open Source Projects (Fedora, Debian) and Wikipedians from various Indian languages. Google Summer of Code interns for Wikimedia Language projects were also present. The 2-day event was organised as work-sessions, focussed on fonts, input tools, content translation and language support on desktop, web and mobile platforms.

Participants at the Open Source Language Summit, Pune India

The Fontbook project, started during the Language Summit earlier this year, was marked to be extended to 8 more Indian languages. The project aims to create a technical specification for Indic fonts based upon the Open Type v 1.6 specifications. Pravin Satpute and Sneha Kore of Red Hat presented their work for the next version of the Lohit font-family based upon the same specification, using Harfbuzz-ng. It is expected that this effort will complement the expected accomplishment of the Fontbook project.

The other font sessions included a walkthrough of the Autonym font created by Santhosh Thottingal, a Q&A session by Behdad Esfahbod about the state of Indic font rendering through Harfbuzz-ng, and a session to package webfonts for Debian and Fedora for native support. Learn more about the font sessions.

Improving the input tools for multilingual input on the VisualEditor was extensively discussed. David Chan walked through the event logger system built for capturing IME input events, which is being used as an automated IME testing framework available at http://tinyurl.com/imelog to build a library of similar events across IMEs, OSs and languages.

Santhosh Thottingal stepped through several tough use cases of handling multilingual input, to support the VisualEditor’s inherent need to provide non-native support for handling language content blocks within the contentEditable surface. Wikipedians from various Indic languages also provided their inputs. On-screen keyboards, mobile input methods like LiteratIM and predictive typing methods like ibus-typing-booster (available for Fedora) were also discussed. Read more about the input method sessions.

The Language Coverage Matrix Dashboard that displays language support status for all languages in Wikimedia projects was showcased. The Fedora Internationalization team, who currently provides resources for fewer languages than the Wikimedia projects, will identify the gap using the LCMD data and assess the resources that can be leveraged for enhancing the support on Desktops. Dr. Kalika Bali from Microsoft Research Labs presented on leveraging content translation platforms for Indian languages and highlighted that for Indic languages MT could be improved significantly by using web-scale content like Wikipedia.

Learn more about the sessions, accomplishments and next steps for these projects from the Event Report.

Runa Bhattacharjee, Outreach and QA coordinator, Language Engineering, Wikimedia Foundation

Developing Distributedly, Part 2: Best Practices for Staying in Sync

Staying in sync on a globally distributed team spread across timezones takes a lot more than using the right tools!

In part 1, we discussed the various tools the distributed mobile web engineering team at the Wikimedia Foundation uses to stay synchronized. While the tools are critical to our success, it takes a lot more to ensure that we can successfully work together despite the geographic distances between us. Our development procedures and team norms are the glue that holds it all together.

As with the tools we discussed previously, the practices and norms I’ll discuss below are by no means unique to—or only useful for—distributed teams.

Rituals

When you can’t just walk across the office or poke your head over the cubicle wall to sync up with a teammate, regular, structured moments for real-time, intra-team communication become critical. The mobile web team is a scrum-inspired agile team. As such, we use regular stand-ups, planning meetings, showcases and retrospectives to have some real-time, focused conversation with one another. Because we hold these meetings at a regular cadence and consider them critical touch points for the entire team, we think of them as rituals rather than regular meetings.

The WMF Mobile Apps engineering team holding a stand-up meeting with remote participation.

The stand-ups in particular are excellent for synchronization. Unlike traditional Scrum, we do not hold stand-up meetings every single day; rather, we do ours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We use this time to let everyone know what we’ve been working on, make commitments about what we will be working on, alert the team if there’s anything blocking us from getting our work done and quickly triage any bugs that have been reported since we last met. While we can always look in Mingle (our project management tool, see part 1) to see who is working on what and when, these brief meetings make it easier to raise issues and communicate about where further collaboration between teammates may be valuable.

Often, conversations about blockers and problem areas start during the stand-up and continue between the interested parties after the meeting has concluded. The meeting is kept short, time-boxed at 15 minutes, so there is little overhead; the meeting stays focused and we communicate just enough to keep us all moving forward.

The other rituals provide a great way for us to stay in the loop, bond with one another and allow the team tremendous influence over the product and our process. While their primary purposes are not about day-to-day synchronization like the stand ups, the other rituals are essential for reinforcing our self-organizing team. Particularly since we are distributed, these rituals are sacred, as they are the primary moments when we all know we can work together in real time.

(more…)