WMDE Technical Wishes/Templates


Make working with templates easierEdit

How can working with templates become easier? That's the question the Technical Wishes team at Wikimedia Germany will focus on for two years. This focus was set by the 2019 Technical Wishes Survey on German Wikipedia.

The team sets out to find solutions for different problems that people on the wikis encounter when they work with templates. Improving individual templates is not part of the project. Instead, it's about finding concepts that generally make it easier to work with templates.


Over the past months, an interdisciplinary team has intensively researched which problems and improvement requests exist in the area of templates from both the user and the technical point of view. The results are based on the following:

  • Interviews with active members of Wikimedia projects on Wikimania, WikiCon as well as remote interviews. A total of 19 interviews were conducted with users from as many different backgrounds as possible: different working methods (e.g. Visual Editor / Source Code Editor), different areas of work (use of templates / writing of templates), new and experienced contributors, from different Wikis, different origins, and of different ages and gender.
  • Evaluation of all old surveys on "TechWishes" in the German Wikipedia and their equivalents on Meta
  • Evaluation of the discussion pages for this wish, the voting page, the pages of the template- and technical workshop, as well as the help pages for templates
  • Evaluation of the problems reported at the Tech on Tour
  • Viewing of several hundred, up to 15 years old, tickets on Phabricator about MediaWiki templates and related keywords
  • A workshop about templates at WikiCon 2019 to find out more about how to work with templates
  • Exchange with the Wikimedia Foundation about its past and potential activities regarding templates

The research has revealed numerous problems and suggestions for improvement. There are two large target groups: those who work on templates and those who use them. Problem areas were identified for both target groups:

People who work on templates have problems with: People who use templates have problems with
  • the template syntax
  • insufficient developer tools
  • historically grown templates
  • Maintenance of existing templates
  • the overview and findability of templates
  • the documentation of templates
  • learning how to use templates
  • the handling of templates in the Visual Editor
  • the social values and norms that have formed around the use of templates.

Most of the problems and suggestions for improvement appeared several times and in different contexts during the research, which shows their great importance. The most frequently mentioned problems in these problem areas can be found here.

As always, feedback is welcome. For example, if you think that something has been overlooked during the research, or that other criteria should be considered for the next steps, please write to us on the discussion page.

Status and next StepsEdit

The status of the work in this thematic focus is always visible on this page. Furthermore, important milestones are also communicated to a broader audience. As always, work on this topic will be carried out in close cooperation with the German-speaking communities.

  •   Done Research of problem areas
  • January: Announcement on which of the above named problem areas should be addressed in 2020 and 2021. In order to come to this decision, a particular analysis is carried out for each problem area,
    • what the benefit would be
    • who benefits
    • how the problems can be solved technically without breaking compatibility with existing templates
    • how costly an implementation would probably be
    • whether there are disadvantages or negative side effects
  • January/February: First ideas for solutions are presented.
  • Following: Start of development work

What are your experiences with templates?Edit

How do you currently work with templates, which problems do you encounter – or why don't you use templates? We're inviting everyone to share their experiences, no special expertise is needed.

There are different ways to do this:

  • If you're up to take part in a remote interview with our UX team, please send an email to hanna.petruschat wikimedia.de. This will add you to a list of people potentially interested in interviews. Of course you can be removed from the list at any time if you wish so.
  • If you prefer writing your experiences down, please do so on this talk page. The more descriptive, the better.


As always, feedback is very welcome. The best place for it is the talk page.