The Usability Team is preparing a supplemental release which will bring more stability and functionality to the features of their Babaco release, which has been available to logged in users of Wikimedia sites since October 2009. Among the changes which have been made are many improvements in interactivity and aesthetics, but the most critical change is using an HTML iframe element together with a special design mode that modern browsers support, in favor of the previous HTML textarea. This paves the way for developing a rich editing experience with collapsible templates and syntax highlighting, as well as provides a foundation on which a WYSIWYG editor may eventually be built upon.

The table of contents, which now features controls for expanding, collapsing and resizing, is also much more accurate than before. The link dialog which once had a tabbed interface for making internal or external links now intelligently detects the type of link you are making, an improvement we designed and prototyped while literally watching users struggle with the software during usability testing. Finally, there is now support for language specific icons in the toolbar, with a several languages ready to go such as German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, and Polish. This feature allows us to provide a more native experience by using language specific mnemonics. So far we’ve applied this feature to the bold and italic buttons, which are now B and I for English, F and K for German and G and C for Spanish. Languages without customized icons will continue using A and A.

The team will be deploying these upgrades in the coming days. To learn more about the Wikipedia Usability Initiative, check out their website at http://usability.wikimedia.org.