After several years of development and testing, VisualEditor, the new visual interface to edit Wikipedia pages, will soon be available in “beta” form for all users. This lets Wikipedia editors create and modify articles visually, using a new system where the articles they edit will look the same as they show for reading, and their changes show up as they enter them — like writing a document in a word processor.
VisualEditor removes the need to learn complex wiki markup, and so simplifies editing for both new and experienced editors. We hope that this will open up editing to more people, and along with other efforts will encourage more editors to start and continue to contribute.
We plan to enable it for all logged-in users of the English Wikipedia in early July, later that month extending it to logged-out users, and then the other Wikipedias. Ahead of rolling out VisualEditor in July, we will be carrying out a test of VisualEditor for some randomly-selected new accounts on the English Wikipedia beginning on 17 June. During this testing period, we will be monitoring the impact on users, listening to feedback, and solving problems.
The “alpha” prototype was previously available only to users with a registered account who opted in to test out VisualEditor. First made available on the English Wikipedia in December 2012, it was extended to 16 more language editions in April, and will be made available on all remaining Wikipedias later this week. A lot of valuable feedback has been provided by the early testers of this alpha, and we would like to thank them for their help.
Visual HTML editors are now common on the Web, but building one for Wikipedia (and its sister sites) has been a challenge in itself, due to our specialized requirements and the need to integrate with our existing software, MediaWiki. Behind the scenes, VisualEditor heavily relies on Parsoid, a new complex software component for MediaWiki that translates between wiki markup and annotated HTML+RDFa.
We need your help!
What you can do to help: over the past few months, we have asked you to try out the alpha version of the VisualEditor, and many of you did. Since then, it has changed significantly, and so we’re asking that you try it again. It’s very important that we fix as many critical issues as possible prior to the deploying for everyone in a few weeks’ time — of course, we’d love to fix them all, but that may not be possible. So please, enable the VisualEditor (it’s in your preferences, under the editing tab — check the box labeled “Enable VisualEditor”) and submit any bugs that you find. Your early testing means that we can ensure a better VisualEditor and a smoother deployment for everyone.
Philippe Beaudette, Director, Community Advocacy
James Forrester, Product Manager, VisualEditor and Parsoid