Tech Lead Digest – Q3/4 2021

December 6, 2021 1 By addshore

It’s time for the 5th instalment of my tech lead digest posts. I switched to monthly for 2 months, but decided to back down to quarterlyish. You can find the other digests by checking out the series.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑Wikidata & Wikibase

The biggest event of note in the past months was WikidataCon 2021 which took place toward the end of October 2021. Spread over 3 days the event celebrated Wikidatas 9th birthday. We are still awaiting the report from the event to know how many folks participated, and recordings of talks will likely not be available until early 2022. At which point I’ll try to write another blog post.

Just before WikidataCon the updated strategy for Linked Open Data was published by Wikimedia Deutschland which includes sub-strategies for Wikidata and the Wikibase Ecosystem. This strategy is much easier to digest than the strategy papers published in 2019 and I highly recommend the read. Part of the Wikidata strategy talks about “sharing workload” which reminds me of some thoughts I recently had comparing Wikipedia and Wikidata editing. Wikibase has a focus on Ecosystem enablement, which I am looking forward to working on.

The Wikibase stakeholder group continues to grow and organize. A Twitter account (@wbstakeholders) now exists tweeting relevant updates. Now with over 14 organizational members and 15 individual members, the budget is now public and the group is working on getting some desired features implemented. If you are an organization or individual working in the Wikibase space, be sure to check them out! The group recently published a prioritized list of institutional requirements, and I’m happy to say that some parts of the “Automatic maintenance processes and updating cascades should work out of the box” area that scored 4 have already been tackled by the Wikidata / Wikibase teams.

I also have to give a special shout out to the Learn Wikidata interactive course. I haven’t completed the course myself, but it aspires to teach librarians, library staff members, and other information professionals how to edit Wikidata. The project uses software called Twine which allows creating sites and learning materials with branching narratives. You can find the code on Github. Thanks to the WikiCite grants for making this possible.

At the technical level:

  • Work on the Mismatch Finder continues
  • Federated Properties received another batch of development work and is likley to be announced for testing in the coming days, weeks or months
  • The Search Platform team at the foundation deployed the new Streaming Updater for the Wikidata query service, promising more efficient updating
  • Wikibase.Cloud was announced and has been worked on, which will be the Wikimedia Deutschland owned and operated version of wbstack.com using the same codebase. You can read more about what WBStack is in my introductory post.
  • The team worked on removing the need to setup cron scripts for various Wikibase components, such as change dispatching and also some database cleanup. This will be fully handeled by the job queue in a future Wikibase release.

🌎Wider Wikimedia

New Wikimedia Foundation board members were elected, and have since been formally appointed, in a vote that saw higher turnout than the previous election. Maryana Iskander was appointed as the new CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation with an official start date of January 2022.

A screenshot of suggested edits from growth features

Growth features continue to be rolled out across more Wikipedia projects (it’s almost everywhere now). This feature provides users with a personalized homepage, suggested tasks and help panel. It’s been worked on by the WMF Growth team, and I really like the direction this is taking.

MediaWiki had a 1.37 branch cut, and is likely to be released in the coming days or weeks.

In the future, unregistered editors will be given an identity that is not their IP address. You can read the suggestions for how that identity could work and discuss on the talk page.

The technical leadership community of practice received an updated name.

A Toolhub catalogue has been developed to make it easier to find software tools relating to Wikimedia projects. (announcement)

🔗Links & Reading

Reading

Podcasts

Projects

  • Backstage.io, An open platform for building developer portals (Mentioned in the Twitter / Spotify podcast above)
  • Twine, an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories.
  • notebooksharing.space, the fastest way to share your notebooks (blogpost)
  • skaffold, Local Kubernetes Development. Awesome, and in use for wikibse.cloud.

🧩Did you know?