Submissions/Visually editing Wikipedia: Why VisualEditor is different.

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This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2015.

Submission no.
Title of the submission
Visually editing MediaWiki: Why VisualEditor is different.
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission
Ed Sanders
E-mail address
ESanders (WMF)
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Wikimedia Foundation
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)
"Why not just use an off-the-shelf editor?" is one of the most frequently asked questions to the VisualEditor team. Often the assumption is that the developers just couldn’t resist the temptation to “re-invent the wheel”, and often this is true for developers in general. But I think with VisualEditor there is a very strong case to show that it was both necessary and executed in such a way that we now have a product that solves many of our current problems, but is also well structured to solve problems just around the corner and those further in the future. I hope to demonstrate its necessity by exploring the complexities of the problems we face both integrating with MediaWiki and it’s templating and plugin systems, and supporting the huge diversity of Wikipedia’s readership with hundreds of languages, dozens of scripts, inline variants and bi-directional text.
I will discuss some of problems we faced that many other editors don’t solve, and demonstrate how the solutions we have come up with pave the way for building exciting new tools that will vastly improve the editing experience in the future.
I will show how our architecture has allowed us to create intuitive editors for complex inline content like templates, references and media, and talk about how this might be improved in the future.
I will demonstrate how our highly modular codebase allows extension and gadget authors to build simple interfaces in VisualEditor in a matter of hours, without having to touch our codebase.
I will talk about how VisualEditor can be detached from MediaWiki completely, how to integrate it with other applications like WordPress or Phabricator, and why its extensibility makes it potentially a better editor than you might be using already.
I will also cover some of our longer-term goals, such as real-time collaboration and edit playback, and discuss how the architecture already in place puts these in touching distance.
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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  1. --Elitre (WMF) (talk) 15:56, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
  2. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 21:08, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
  3. --L235 (talk) enwiki 21:24, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
  4. Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 15:39, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
  5. Varnent (talk) 22:08, 8 March 2015 (UTC)
  6. CT Cooper · talk 22:56, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
  7. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 05:16, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  8. Maximo Perez Rivas (talk) 17:44, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
  9. Santhosh.thottingal (talk) 01:36, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  10. RMiller (WMF) (talk) 12:11, 17 July 2015 (UTC)