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Submissions/VisualEditor — engineering against the odds

From Wikimania 2014 • London, United Kingdom

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2014.

Sunday August 10, 12:30, Frobisher 123
Submission no. 5052
Title of the submission
VisualEditor — engineering against the odds
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission
Roan Kattouw and Trevor Parscal
E-mail address
Roan Kattouw
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Wikimedia Foundation
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)
VisualEditor is the most significant and complex change that the Wikimedia wikis have ever undertaken since we began 13 years ago. We began our journey to build a visual editor three years ago, letting users create, fix and improve articles without having to learn wikitext, in a rich, browser-based editor that guides them to do the right things whilst still having the same power and flexibility that wikitext users enjoy.
Building an editor that can express the richness of wikitext – a much more powerful system than HTML – and yet remains easy, intuitive and simple is a very hard task. It’s also thrown up a number of major engineering challenges, and led us to make some important decisions about how VisualEditor works internally that have some lessons and suggestions for other areas of work. This presentation is a companion piece to the less technical, community-side presentation about how VisualEditor works for users and how we are improving and extending it.
Trevor and Roan will talk about and show off the work we've done over the past year, examining some the decisions we made and the issues we worry about. We will illustrate a few of the various difficulties in building a rich editor on the Web, looking at other open and closed source editors’ attempts to solve these issues and the problems, and how you VisualEditor lets you do many of the things you want.
Finally, we will explain how VisualEditor works internally and how it integrates with a platform like MediaWiki, preview some of the changes that we are looking to make in the coming months and years, and highlight how you can extend it for your own needs – as a simple on-wiki gadget, in a MediaWiki extension, or as a full third party integration into a different platform like Drupal. We will demonstrate how we are making VisualEditor the best, most useful rich editor for the Web.
Technology, Interface & Infrastructure
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests

Interested attendees

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