Submissions/VisualEditor: The present and future of editing our wikis

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This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2013.

Presentation Media



Submission no. 
3019
Subject no. 
C3
Title of the submission

VisualEditor: The present and future of editing wikis

Type of submission

Presentation

Author of the submission

James Forrester & Roan Kattouw

Country of origin

United States / United Kingdom

Affiliation

Wikimedia Foundation

E-mail address

jforrester@wikimedia.org

Username
Personal homepage or blog

mw:VisualEditor

Abstract

Wikipedia is “the free encyclopædia that anyone[citation needed] can edit”. We know from research, however, that most people can’t edit, and that building a visual editor is the most important thing we can do to bridge the gap. Previous attempts to use existing browser-based HTML editors to edit wikitext have fallen short of Wikipedia's needs, so we are building a new editor – the VisualEditor. We have now enabled it as the default editor for all Wikipedias, and we'd love to show you what we've done for editors old and new, and ask you what you think.

Detailed proposal

Wikipedia is “the free encyclopædia that anyone[citation needed] can edit”. We know from research, however, that most people can’t edit, and that building a visual editor is the most important thing we can do to bridge the gap. Previous attempts to use existing browser-based HTML editors to edit wikitext have fallen short of Wikipedia's needs, mostly because wikitext is a superset of HTML and Wikipedia’s content is so complex.

So we, a team from the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikia, led by Trevor Parscal and James Forrester, are building a new editor – the VisualEditor – that is designed specifically for editing wikitext. In the two years that we have been working on this project, we have encountered the unique challenges posed by creating an editor for wikitext and deploying it to an enormous corpus of existing articles have led us to push the limits of Web browsers, JavaScript, parsers and our own creativity.

Most important in this work has been devising tools that are helpful and easy to understand for new editors, and which focus their edits in the right direction as expected by our wikis' communities. We expect the VisualEditor to be a better way to edit not just for new users, but also for experienced community members – whether it is with templates, references, categories or other areas. We have also identified important areas that need improvements to better allow editors to review what changes fellow editors have made and react to them.

By Wikimania, we hope to have set VisualEditor to be the default way people edit all Wikipedias. It provides a simple way to create new articles, expand on stubs or make changes to mature and complex articles, while still allowing experienced editors to use the old wikitext editor if they want to. With an eye to the future, we have also been carefully preparing the way for the later addition of real-time collaborative editing.

Trevor and James will talk about and show off the work we've done, the decisions we made and the issues we worry about. We will ask you to tell us what you think, what your issues or concerns are for you and your communities, and what more we need to do to making editing Wikipedia – and all our wikis – truly open to everyone.

Track
  • WikiCulture and Community
Length of presentation/talk

45 Minutes

Language of presentation/talk

English

Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?

Yes

Slides or further information (optional)
Slides - condensed version (PDF)
Slides with full build-out (PDF).
Video of the presentation
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