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Wikipedia Gets Office-Style Text Editor

After a good many personal appeals from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, something seems to have paid off. Wikimedia has just released a new interactive visual toolbar to their editing software making it a whole lot easier for users unfamiliar with the harder to use HTML coding to edit entries on Wikipedia’s website, allowing either users of older age or less internet aptitude to publish end create encyclopaedic entries on Wikipedia .

The interface shows an editable preview of the final page as opposed to it’s parent HTML code, transforming WikiCode page edits from entering complex code to something quite similar to modern office applications. It includes the regular Office-type program features, such as drop down font menus and formatting tool bars. While not an entirely new concept, this will make the process a lot faster and easier.

The preview is available in a restricted sandbox mode currently, meaning users can only play with it for the moment and cannot publish entries. Users are encouraged to find and report bugs to the Wikimedia development team in order for the editor to be fully functional by the time it goes live.

Recently, The Wikimedia Foundation’s 2011-2012 annual plan pointed out a decline in active Wikipedia editors, so the editor’s implementation seems to be a good method of reversing this trend, allowing the site to be more modern and user friendly. As well as Wikipedia, dozens of other Wikis will feel the effects of the new software by June 2012, but developers say that it’s some way off being ready for use everywhere.

An example of the sandbox is found here. The presentation of the toolbar is extremely subtle, with the interface appearing as part of the web page in a very non-obvious style. It’s only clear to a first time user that it functions in a way that changes the page when it is clicked. A new window doesn’t open, and neither does a dialogue box, in fact the editor lets you type straight onto the page. Try it here.

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