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22 June 2012, 12:20

Wikimedia presents new visual editor prototype

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Visual Editor logo The Wikimedia Foundation has announced the launch of a new prototype of its open source Visual editor. The non-profit organisation behind the Wikipedia online encyclopedia says that the new editing environment should make it easier for users to contribute to its projects.

Wikimedia says that one of the key issues preventing new contributors from joining projects such as Wikipedia was difficulty learning "wikitext", the special wiki markup language used to create and edit pages. "We want the process of learning how to edit to be trivial, so our volunteers, both new and experienced, can devote themselves to what they edit," said The Visual Editor Team, "That’s why we're building the visual editor, so that contributing to a wiki is as easy and natural as other modern editing systems, and new editors are not dissuaded from making their changes."

Zoom The new prototype “visual editor” for Wikimedia
Source: Wikimedia
Referring to the new Visual editor prototype, which is now live on for testing, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tweeted: "This is epically important". With the next-generation editor, volunteers can edit pages using a WYSIWYG-like (what you see is what you get) environment in their browser; this is similar to, for example, creating a new document in Google Docs. Once the editor has been completed, users will have the option to use the Visual editor or continue with the traditional wiki markup language.

The Visual Editor Team notes that the prototype "is just a demonstration, and very far from a finished product – for example, we haven't yet added image or table handling". Because of this, it is currently locked down "to only work on a self-contained area of the wiki, so that it doesn't encounter any unsupported content or break anything else". The developers say that they plan to release a new version approximately every two weeks and add new features one at a time.

Further information about the Visual editor prototype can be found in the announcement blog post and on the FAQ page. Users testing the release are encouraged to provide feedback and report any bugs that they find.

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