Trials and tribulations of image rotation, Article Feedback version 5, and new diff colours
Image rotation change mishandled?
As reported previously, 1.18 fixed the display of images that would previously have displayed upside-down.
Questions were asked this week about the handling of a bug fix, deployed weeks ago with MediaWiki 1.18 (and reported at the time), that aimed to correct MediaWiki's display of photographs taken with the camera upside-down or sideways.
It has now been calculated that the number of images which had been relying on the previous behaviour numbered in the tens of thousands, according to lists generated on 4 December. Human tagging followed up on by a bot has since been able to reduce the number substantially, leaving approximately 3000 at the time of writing, although many more may still be tagged. Although the potential for this kind of problem had been discussed since deployment, it only attracted great attention after thumbnail deletions begun earlier this month revealed the issue on hundreds more images. One Commons contributor commented that they had "trouble thinking of any single act of vandalism we've ever suffered that rivals the amount of damage to Wikimedia done by this [change]".
The criticism has prompted suggestions that greater care should be taken with future fixes to any problematically large existing corpus such as photographic images. Proposals include relying on future projects such as the parser rewrite to "ancestor" existing pages and images, that is, leaving them untouched by fixes until they can be dealt with at a later date. Developer Bryan Tong Minh admitted on the wikitech-l mailing list that it looked like "automatic image rotation [was] not as good an idea as Brion and I originally thought".
ArticleFeedback version 5
One of the four possible interfaces users may experience when version 5 of the Article Feedback extension goes live later in the week
Later this week, version 5 of the ArticleFeedback extension will be deployed to approximately 10,000 articles on the English Wikipedia. The version differs from its predecessor insofar as it moves away from an emphasis on participation and quality, and instead is set to focus on "finding ways for readers to contribute productively to building the encyclopedia".
Visitors to the 10,000 articles will, after deployment, no longer see the existing interface for "star rating" pages, but instead find alternative designs at the bottom of articles. The four such designs being trialled include a freetext suggestion field, an invitation to edit, and a series of more directed text fields that the user can select between. Visitors to the pages will be allocated at random to one of the four designs and the designs compared.
Not all fixes may have gone live to WMF sites at the time of writing; some may not be scheduled to go live for many weeks.
- Visual Editor testing begins: A sandbox version of the new WYSIWYG visual editor will be created on MediaWiki.org later this week. The testing period allows users to get a feel for the interface and to try out its handling of various formatting structures, but does not support the saving or loading of existing wikitext. In future, it is hoped that the Visual Editor will be able to take advantage of the new parser currently in development to render and edit increasingly complex wikitext structures.
- New diff colours: The default colours presented in diffs are going to be changed from green (added) and yellow (removed) to blue (added) and green (removed). The new colours, which have been in place on the French Wikipedia for some time, are believed to be easier to read for those suffering from certain types of colour blindness (revision #105280). The change is likely to go live when MediaWiki 1.19 is deployed to Wikimedia wikis and can be overridden via a gadget.
- Internationalisation developer needed: Bugmeister Mark Hershberger appealed this week for a developer to take on the task of internationalising the SpecialUploadLocal extension. The extension is beta-graded and promises easier mass image imports for both Wikimedia and non-Wikimedia wikis. In unrelated news, the Wikimedia Android app received its first interface translations this week, courtesy of translatewiki.net, based on the language the user has chosen to view the rest of the Android interface in (Words and What Not blog).
- WebFonts soft launched: As discussed in a post on the Wikimedia blog by internationalisation team member Gerard Meijssen, the WebFonts extension was soft launched on 12 December to wikis particularly in need of it. As Meijssen explained, the extension "ensures that the readers of our wikis will always see the intended characters on their screen" despite the fact that "many devices do not provide the necessary fonts" by default. Although the launch itself was successful and the extension was deployed to "virtually all" the intended wikis, several bugs quickly became apparent and will now need to be fixed before the extension can be deployed further. A major upgrade to the Narayam extension was also deployed.
- Mobile browsing improvements in the pipeline: Lead Software Architect Brion Vibber devoted a series of posts on his blog to noting his work to improve the rendering of various Wikimedia pages when displayed on narrow screens such as those used by mobile devices. These included file description pages and portals, with the latter changes live already.
- TIFF thumbnailing filesize limit to be lifted: Work on integrating a new image scaler to handle particularly large TIFF files will see the upper filesize limit abolished this week, according to the WMF software deployments page. Upcoming deployments also include a version of the "timed text" media handler, which allows for better subtitling of videos and a host of other improvements to video integration, the deployment of which has now been scheduled for January after months of development work.
- ^ An earlier version of this article gave an earlier estimate of 100,000; the number of articles affected has since been reduced.
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