More than 150 developers, engineers, sysadmins, and technology enthusiasts have gathered in Zürich this week-end for the annual European Wikimedia hackathon, organized by Wikimedia CH, the local Wikimedia chapter.
Coming from more than 30 countries, their goal is to fix software bugs, share knowledge about new and existing technologies, add new features, and generally to improve the technical infrastructure and tools on which Wikipedia and its sister sites rely.
The Wikimedia technical community is largely disseminated across the globe; Events like the Zürich hackathon are opportunities for developers to collaborate more closely, and also to socialize with comrades whom they otherwise mostly interact with online.
One of the main topics of interest during this event is MediaWiki-Vagrant, a portable MediaWiki development environment that makes it easy to learn about, modify, and improve MediaWiki’s code. In Zürich, developers are teaching each other how to use this tool, as well as automating it further.
Another topic of interest is Flow, the new discussion system poised to replace the antiquated “talk pages” where editors discuss how to improve Wikipedia articles and other pages. Flow brings a more modern and user-friendly experience, as well as many features that users have now come to expect of online discussion tools.
Maps are also attracting a lot of participants, who want to join forces and combine efforts to offer a unified user experience across various tools that display maps. Examples include maps embedded in Wikipedia articles, Wikivoyage travel guides, and mobile apps that combine maps with text to show location-aware content.
These are just a few of the pieces of technology that participants are excitedly discussing and coding on, along with Wikidata, improvements to the development toolchain, VisualEditor, automated code testing, and many more.
The hackathon is now in its second day and will continue until tomorrow. You can follow some of the sessions remotely by watching them live or recorded. You can also interact with participants on the #wmhack channel on Freenode IRC, or on Twitter using the #wmhack hashtag.
Guillaume Paumier, Technical communications manager