Yesterday we launched an alpha, opt-in version of the VisualEditor to the English Wikipedia. This will let editors create and modify real articles visually, using a new system where the articles they edit will look the same as when you read them, and their changes show up as they type enter them — like writing a document in a word processor.
Why launch now?
We want our community of existing editors to get an idea of what the VisualEditor will look like in the “real world” and start to give us feedback about how well it integrates with how they edit right now. We also want to get their thoughts on what aspects should be priorities in the coming months.
The editor is at an early stage and is still missing significant functions, which we will address in the coming months. Because of this, we are mostly looking for feedback from experienced editors at this point, because the alpha VisualEditor is insufficient to really give them a proper experience of editing. We don’t want to promise an easier editing experience to new editors before it is ready.
As we develop improvements, they will be pushed every two weeks to the wikis, allowing you to give us feedback as we go, and tell us what you want us to work on next.
How can I try it out?
The VisualEditor is now available to all logged-in accounts on the English Wikipedia as a new preference, switched off by default. If you go to your “Preferences” screen and click into the “Editing” section, it will have an option labelled “Enable VisualEditor.”
Once enabled, for each article you can edit, you will get a second editor tab labelled “VisualEditor” next to the “Edit” tab. If you click this, after a little pause you will enter the VisualEditor. From here, you can play around, edit and save real articles and get an idea of what it will be like when complete.
At this early stage in our development, we recommend that after saving any edits, you check whether they broke anything. All edits made with the VisualEditor will show up in articles’ history tabs with a “VisualEditor” tag next to them, so you can track what is happening.
We would love your feedback on what we have done so far — whether it’s a problem you discovered, an aspect that you find confusing, what area you think we should work on next, or anything else, please do let us know.
James Forrester, Product Manager, VisualEditor and Parsoid