When we started the development effort towards the Wikifunctions site, we sub-divided the work leading up to the launch of Wikifunctions into eleven phases, named after the first eleven letters of the Greek alphabet.
- With Phase α (alpha) completed, it became possible to create instances of the system-provided Types in the wiki.
- With Phase β (beta), it became possible to create new Types on-wiki and to create instances of these Types.
- With Phase γ (gamma), all the main Types of the pre-generic function model were available.
- With Phase δ (delta), it became possible to evaluate built-in implementations.
- With Phase ε (epsilon), it became possible to evaluate contributor-written implementations in any of our supported programming languages.
- With Phase ζ (zeta), it became possible to evaluate implementations composed of other functions.
- This week we declared Phase η (eta) as complete, in which we planned to add support for generic types and functions.
We did that, but we also did so much more:
- We re-designed and re-built the error system entirely
- We moved from the preliminary function model to the full function model
- We implemented validators running on user-implemented types
- We designed the viewing and editing of functions
- We moved the frontend to use Codex, Wikimedia’s new front-end toolkit
- We announced the logo for Wikifunctions
- We decided with the community on the licensing of Wikifunctions
- We on-boarded quite a number of people since the start of the phase: Cai, Adesoji, David, Julia, Mariya, and Luca
We have learned a lot during this phase. Most notably, it took much longer than anticipated: it took seven full months for this phase, whereas previous phases took around two months. We held a retrospective on this, and we identified a number of issues that we are aiming to considerably improve. The scope creep, as witnessed by the number of things we have accomplished, is one such issue. A lesson I certainly learned is the real-world complexity of generic type processing, which presumably is why so many programming languages only added support for generics later, and did not have it from the start. And, particularly towards the end of the phase, we were noticing an unsustainable and exhaustive working mode. We will change our approach in the upcoming phase, by focusing on smaller, more self-contained workstreams, and focus on these one by one.
Today, we have kicked off Phase θ. Originally called “thawing and freezing”, the theme of this phase is to allow for the community and technical processes on-wiki that allow the community to collaboratively work on a library of functions in a stable and secure manner. This includes deciding on and implementing relevant user-rights, features for understanding edits done by others, having the system choose the right implementation, and much more. The description in the phases page on Meta still needs to be updated, but here are the workstreams that we will work on in this phase:
- Decide and implement canonical form for typed lists
- Give users an intuitive user experience for functions by implementing the designs for viewing and editing functions
- Allow the system to run function evaluations correctly and efficiently by deciding which implementations to select
- Provide users with the meta-data about individual function runs on the wiki (e.g. how long it took, how many resources were used, etc.)
- Allow the system to run and evolve in a stable and secure manner, by deciding on and implementing user rights, rate limiting and caches, and by displaying edit diffs between revisions
- Ensure users have a comprehensible view experience for non-function objects, as we redesign and reimplement texts with language fallbacks, references, strings, and lists
- Help to start some related early community discussions about topics such as user-group-rights, code of conduct, staff collaboration on functions, and other new-wiki-preparation efforts
- Get ready for future phases, by designing for multilingual documentation of objects and instrumenting the frontend
- 2022 ウィキメディア・ハッカソンに参加しませんか
You can see that even within the concept of stability and security, we have a lot of things planned for this phase, but each of the workstreams are much more self-contained than the big and somewhat open-ended goals of the previous phase. This should also allow for more visibility into our progress, and we will keep you updated in the weeklies on progress.
Once this phase is complete, we are getting very close to the finish line: in Phase ι (iota) we plan to add multilingual documentation of objects. Then, we have set Phase κ (kappa) for last minute clean up tasks, before launching in Phase λ (lambda).
A huge thank you to the whole team, this is a major milestone. I am proud of all the things achieved, and I am very excited to see the work in the upcoming phase, which will be crucial to allow for Wikifunctions to not just be a platform for running functions, but to allow it to grow as a community.