Abstract Wikipedia/Updates/2022-03-04

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Phase update, View function design, Smoke testing

You may have noticed that we didn’t send out our updates for the last few weeks. Given world events, we thought them trivial, and decided to stay silent. We have kept working on Wikifunctions in the meantime. For this week, here is a short update on our activities. We are planning to resume the normal weekly essays soon.

The development work is moving forward. The current phase η turned out to be our longest phase by far, but we have finally started to see the finish line. This had several reasons, one of them being that we actually grew the team during that time considerably, and as we know from the Mythical Man-Month, absorbing more capacity also takes time—but is now expected to lead to an increased development speed moving forward. You can follow the progress on the Phase η Phabricator work board.

We are also working to plan out the next phase in a way that will hopefully avoid a prolonged period as the one that is now closing. You can see our initial work to break this down in the top-level task in Phabricator.

The design work is gaining speed, and we have in the last few days done a number of user-tests with some of you on the design for how viewing a function will work and feel. We will very soon publish the UX research results, the designs, and more background on that work. Stay tuned! As always, if you're interested in participating in future user-tests, please email Aishwarya and let her know the natural languages you are literate in and a self-estimate of your programming skills, if any (and yes, we in particular look for people with no programming skills).

One thing we noticed is that we really need to improve our code coverage in unit tests, and introduce automatic end-to-end tests. We are working on a plan to improve the situation, which will allow us to evolve the code more confidently in the future. We now have automatic publication of code coverage for three of our five codebases, and we're working on the other two: WikiLambda PHP and Vue, and the schemata, utility, and definition code bases have coverage, and the orchestrator and evaluator back-end services should be coming soon. One major issue is that the Wikimedia continuous integration and testing environment is not really set up for an architecture as ours, where a back-end service for evaluation of functions and the wiki are developed in parallel and both have moving parts. As said, we are working on a plan towards getting a better grip on this situation.

For now, we have published our first draft of our manual smoke testing protocol, which also gives an idea of the capabilities that are currently available.