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By Jarry1250 and Tilman Bayer

MediaWiki 1.17 deployment imminent

For most of its history, code for the MediaWiki software which forms the basis of WMF wikis and other sites was developed, packaged into sequential releases every three or four months, and then deployed. However, more recently, major changes have been deployed immediately (i.e. out of cycle), easing the pressure on set-piece deployments of code. On Tuesday, February 8, starting at 07:00 UTC, the latest major release of the MediaWiki software, version 1.17, will be released, giving WMF wikis around six months' worth of not-already-deployed code updates (Wikimedia Techblog). A release to other sites will follow soon after. The release represents a massive code review effort in the last two months to check all updates to the software (approximately 1200 of them) before they are released.

If the deployment goes well, it is unlikely that Wikimedians will notice much difference: most of the major features have already been implemented on WMF wikis. (Some interim disruption is nonetheless expected; for example, database dumps are to be stopped temporarily.) Among the major unreleased developments is the new ResourceLoader, designed to speed up page loading times, though it could cause JavaScript errors on less well maintained (smaller) WMF wikis. Other updates are less obvious: a full list, which includes already released developments, is also available. A number of other developments dependent on 1.17 will be added shortly after its release.

The regularity of releases – and particularly the criteria used for determining which updates were deployed immediately and which had to sit in the queue – has been a contentious issue in recent months (see, for example, previous Signpost coverage from October 2010: 1, 2). There is now hope that after the release of 1.17, it may be possible to act upon volunteer developers' calls to have a more regular development cycle. For example, Brion Vibber, for a long time Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Wikimedia, commented (wikitech-l mailing list):

February Engineering Update published

In addition to the major announcement concerning 1.17, the Foundation's Engineering Update for February (and covering the activities of January) was published last week on the Wikimedia Techblog, giving a brief overview of all Foundation-sponsored technical operations in the last month. It summarised the developments:

The update also noted that new job openings for the positions of Operations Engineer and Senior QA Engineer, previously announced, had been published; and that work had been done on evaluating LiquidThreads but that development of the Article Feedback tool had been put off until after the release of 1.17. Other noticeable improvements include the imminent launch of improved category collation code, allowing sub-categories, files, and pages to be paged separated. This "dark-launch" will be invisible at first, while the feature is stress-tested to check for errors before it is finished and made visible to the average user. According to the update, a survey related to the Wikimedia mobile site is also being drafted.

In brief

Not all fixes may have gone live to WMF sites at the time of writing; some may not be scheduled to go live for many weeks.

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I wouldn't exactly say that lots of major changes have been deployed out of cycle. There was (very very very roughly) about 109 fixes merged out of cycle (based on [1]. This doesn't count extensions. Including extensions there is about 500, Much of which was fundraiser related. The number of commits to the wmf branch only corresponds very roughly with how many changes merged out of cycle, so that number is probably quite debatable). Very few of these were new features (although a couple were. Most that were new features, were new features to support an extension), and most seem to be high priority bug fixes. There is still a lot of cool stuff in 1.17 that has not been previously deployed, as well as many many bug fixes (Everything from making special:mypage/common.js be a per-user js page that works on all skins, to making transcluding {{special:recentchanges}} work again, a new special page allowing you to get a diff between two different pages instead of just between revisions of the same page, and much more). Bawolff (talk)


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