We invite you to try out Media Viewer, a new tool for browsing multimedia content, which is now in beta on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites.
Today, viewing images on our sites can be a frustrating experience for casual users: when you click on a thumbnail in an article, you are taken to a separate page where the image is shown in medium size and surrounded with a lot of text information that can be confusing to readers.
Media Viewer aims to improve this viewing experience by showing images in larger size, as an overlay on the current page. To reduce visual clutter, all information is shown below the image, and can be expanded at a click of a button.
This new tool is being developed by the Wikimedia Foundation’s multimedia team and we now invite you to try out in beta version. We plan to gradually release this tool in coming months, starting with a few pilot tests, followed by wider deployments in the next quarter.
How it works
With Media Viewer, you can click on any image thumbnail to see it in large size, without visual clutter. You can see the file name and author credits at the bottom of the screen, and view more information in an expandable panel below the image.
You can also expand the image to full screen, for a more immersive experience, or browse through all images in an article or gallery by clicking on the next and previous arrows. The ‘Use this file’ tool will make it easier to share images with your community, add them to articles or download them for your own purposes, with full attribution to contributors.
User response so far suggests that Media Viewer provides a richer multimedia experience, right where users expect it. They tell us they can see the images more clearly, without having to jump to separate pages, and that the interface is more intuitive, offering easy access to images and metadata.
How you can help
Can you help us test Media Viewer in coming weeks? It’s already included in our “Beta Features” program, so you can try it out right away. Now that we’re planning to enable it more widely, your help is even more crucial to uncover issues and bugs we haven’t caught before.
You can test this tool on any Wikimedia site; for example, you can try it out on this test page. To enable Media Viewer, you first need to log in and click on the small ‘Beta’ link next to ‘Preferences’ in your personal menu; then check the box next to ‘Media Viewer’ and click ‘Save'; you will now be able to click on any thumbnail image to see it in the Media Viewer on that site . Before you start, be sure to read these testing tips.
Over 12,000 beta testers have now enabled Media Viewer across wikis around the world. Here is an overview of the feedback they have kindly given us to help improve this tool. Many of their suggestions are now being implemented, as part of our current release plan.
We are now working on beta version v0.2 of Media Viewer, with a focus on a better user interface, faster image load, more file info and attributions, still images only, as well as improved ‘Use this file’ tools (e.g. share, embed, download). We aim to release this version gradually out of beta, starting with limited tests on a few pilot sites in coming weeks. Based on test results, we plan a wider release of Media Viewer v0.2 next quarter.
The next version v0.3 of Media Viewer will focus on supporting more file formats (e.g. slides, video, audio), as well as zooming on large images and adding plug-ins for developers. For a preview of what we’re considering, check our Media Viewer v0.3 goals and mockups.
In future releases, we also hope to provide a few tools to help users take action on the media they are viewing: for example, a user might want to thank the person who uploaded a file, or report issues about that file. To see how we propose to expand Media Viewer in coming years, check out this multimedia vision for 2016.
If you are a developer, you can learn more about the technology behind Media Viewer on these two extension pages: MultimediaViewer (the front-end code that delivers the main user experience) and CommonsMetadata (the back-end code that delivers the file info to the viewer). In coming weeks, we hope to add a variety of hooks, accessible via the usual mw.hook interface, to allow more customization of behavior in the MultimediaViewer extension through gadgets and other extensions.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the folks who made this project possible, including Gilles Dubuc, Pau Giner, Aaron Arcos, Keegan Peterzell, Brian Wolff, Jared Zimmerman, May Galloway, Bryan Davis, Brion Vibber, Rob Lanphier, Erik Moeller, Howie Fung and Tomasz Finc, to name but a few.
We’re also grateful to all the community members who helped create this feature, through a series of roundtable discussions held by video conference, in person and over IRC. If you would like to participate in future discussions, we invite you to join our multimedia mailing list.
We look forward to more collaborations with you in coming weeks. Your feedback is invaluable for improving Media Viewer, and providing a better experience to our users!