December in more detail; and why the MediaWiki codebase was "slushed" this week
December engineering report published
One of a number of automated screenshots created for the WebFonts project, demonstrating the correct rendering of complex characters for the first time on most system setups
The Wikimedia Foundation's engineering report for December 2011 was published last week on the Wikimedia Techblog and on the MediaWiki wiki, giving an overview of all Foundation-sponsored technical operations in that month. The three projects of particular note (WebFonts, Visual Editor, and ArticleFeedback version 5) were covered in the previous issues of The Signpost; however, the report did contain several items of note that were not.
MediaWiki codebase "slushed"
Managing the release cycle for any software is difficult, and with a geographically distributed, part-volunteer contributor base this is even more the case. This week, a code "slush" was called to help temporarily simplify matters ahead of the branching of 1.19 (wikitech-l mailing list). The move closes the central repository to major changes, allowing time for code reviewers to catch up on the backlog before a release snapshot ("branch") is taken later in the month. After branching, the repository will be opened to major code changes and additions again, while the branch will receive only bug fixes.
In previous versions, branching had been performed relatively early, opening up the central repository to changes earlier, but this has proved "hard to manage", according to Brion Vibber, the Foundation's lead software architect. The pre-branch code "slush" (essentially a code freeze but with greater discretion) is likely to focus minds on code review, which has been lagging until relatively recently. If it proves insufficient, further code freezes may be required; these would help contribute to greater levels of testing at a small cost in terms of the level of active development undertaken.
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.
- Full roundup of 2011: This issue of The Signpost includes a full roundup of the technology developments of 2011, and an extensive description of the current deployment plans for the first quarter of 2012.
- Workshop for extension developers: Using the model set by Wikimedia staff IRC office hours, Mediawiki.org's WikiProject Extensions will hold an IRC meeting for developers (volunteer and staff) on 13 January. The workshop will focus on preparing extensions for MediaWiki 1.19 and will be held in #wikimedia-dev (wikitech-l mailing list).
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