Fully support basic table editing in the visual editor
Closed, ResolvedPublic8 Story Points

Description

By "basic table editing", I mean generic workflows not specific to Wikimedia projects. By "support", I mean make it possible, not necessarily user-friendly (although that's a desirable goal).

This includes:

  • Rearranging rows and columns
  • Cutting and copying parts of tables
  • Pasting parts of tables as new tables
  • Pasting parts of tables into an existing table
  • Adding row headers
  • Navigating between cells in a table using tab or arrow keys

It doesn't include the following (although they're desirable goals):

  • Making tables sortable
  • Coloring table cells
  • Making table controls which already exist more user-friendly
  • Editing tables made up of templates

Finished tasks are struck

Neil_P._Quinn_WMF updated the task description. (Show Details)
Neil_P._Quinn_WMF raised the priority of this task from to Normal.
Restricted Application added a subscriber: Aklapper. · View Herald TranscriptAug 6 2015, 9:06 PM
Tbayer added a subscriber: Tbayer.Aug 16 2015, 7:37 AM
Elitre added a subscriber: Elitre.Nov 13 2015, 10:42 AM

If this isn't possible within the normal visual editor, then I suggest creating a good table editor at the Wikimedia Tool Labs:
*http://tools.wmflabs.org

See my related comment here:
*https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T88694#1791426
It is in the task called: "Be able to re-order the columns or rows of a table by dragging them to another position in VisualEditor".

Esanders updated the task description. (Show Details)Aug 19 2016, 12:56 AM

I, and many others, do not use the Visual Editor much. So I did not hear of these various great improvements in table editing until now, years later. I do not understand how many of the improvements listed here actually work though.

I added some more info today to Help:Table on English Wikipedia concerning tables and the Visual Editor. It only had a few lines until today. See the Visual Editor section (currently at the end of Help:Table):
*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Table

Please add some info there describing the various Visual Editor table functions and how they work. Please be more bold in the future in touting your successes.

Restricted Application added a project: User-Ryasmeen. · View Herald TranscriptSep 9 2018, 3:16 PM

@Timeshifter, thank you for those updates on English Wikipedia.

The global documentation is up to date on Mediawiki: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Help:VisualEditor/User_guide#Editing_tables. You can copy it to your local wiki, or create a link to it.

Concerning your suggestions concerning publishing updates, the most important ones have been published in Tech News.

Thanks for the link to:
*https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Help:VisualEditor/User_guide#Editing_tables

I linked to it from:
*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Table
*https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Help:Tables

There are 275 people watching the English Wikipedia page:
*https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Help:Table&action=info
49 who visited recent edits.

Far fewer people visit the MediaWiki.org help pages. And very few would look in the Visual Editor page for info on tables. So I suggest in the future that table developers leave notes at the talk page linked below about any VE table info missing from the English Wikipedia Help:Table page.
*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help_talk:Table

https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Help:VisualEditor/User_guide#Editing_tables is the central documentation hub for VE, marked for translation. This is where people come to translate, get updates, have a look of whatever they creatively decide to make when something new is published on Tech News. We can't afford to leave a message to all 82 local help pages that exist about tables, sorry.

Very few people look at Tech News. Even fewer are going to scan it weekly in order to find the very few times it mentions table editing via the Visual Editor. Sometimes, the developers have to leave the cages it seems they are locked into by your groupthink.

Even fewer people are going to put the VE page on their Mediawiki.org watchlist, and religiously look at the Mediawiki watchlist weekly in order to check for changes to show up concerning tables. Especially people who are not regular users of Mediawiki.org. It would be very easy to miss edits to the table section if other edits happen to other sections soon after.

If there was a global cross-wiki watchlist I would put the Mediawiki.org Help:Tables page on it. Because I already have the English Wikipedia Help:Table page on my watchlist.

In the description at the top of the phabricator thread it lists 3 tasks I am curious about:
*Cutting and copying parts of tables
*Pasting parts of tables as new tables
*Pasting parts of tables into an existing table

I am not sure that info is covered completely in:
*https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Help:VisualEditor/User_guide#Editing_tables

Howdy @Timeshifter,
Thanks for the feedback. I want to give a little background to echo @Trizek-WMF on why we utilize Tech News as a primary communication method and why centralization is important to wrangle the work we do.

Tech News gets about 250 pagviews for each publication (directly on-wiki, data is not complete for older issues). It's translated in over a dozen languages every week by awesome volunteers and posted to close to 700 locations across the movement. It's included on the wikitech-ambassadors mailing list which has 566 non-digested and 208 digested members. It's also included in the semi-monthly English Wikipedia Signpost and other community-run periodicals. It's hands down the most direct way to communicate technical changes.

If some how all that misses your field of vision - it happens. Volunteers outnumber WMF staff by quite a margin. We're not infallible :) - you can opt-in to get a copy sent to your personal talk page.

We do a sizable amount of work to try to reach everyone through predictable and consistent channels and we centralize help documentation for the same reason. When changes to the software happen, it would be time consuming and incomplete to try and suss out every location where help documentation has been scattered across every project and every language variant. Centralizing helps the movement know where to go to find information, respects the work of volunteer translators and developers, and keeps us all from going insane.

I hope that helps explain the effort to "leave the cage" and let folks know what's going on. If you have a constructive suggestion on what could be improved I'd be happy to hear it. I you know of spaces in the projects you frequent that would benefit from having higher visibility of these efforts (like Tech News) I encourage you to carry proposal forward for your communities.

Timeshifter added a comment.EditedSep 14 2018, 2:33 AM

Please see:
*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Timeshifter/Newsletters#Tech_News

What is the template wikitext to add just the Signpost Technology Report to that newsletter compilation page of mine? Does one exist?

Let's assume good faith on all sides. I see several problems with the centralized distribution method you described.
*The lack of a global cross-wiki watchlist.
*The lack of distribution by specific topic. No distribution of tech stuff focused solely on tables for example.

Problem is that even though many people have newsletters coming in on their talk pages, or templated in, few read them after awhile. I know. I had them for a long time on my user talk page. Occasionally, I take a look at the compilation page of mine.

I am very busy with projects on and off wikis. When I want info on tables I go to Help:Tables and Help:Sorting.

I have been editing on Wikipedia since 2005. I have around 53,000 edits on Wikimedia Projects. 61,000 on Wikia where I am a bureaucrat. Tens of thousands on Shoutwiki where I am a steward. So I don't have time to sift through general tech newsletters for tidbits useful to me.

The solution is simple:
*Create a global cross-wiki watchlist.
*Encourage developers to put info on tables on the Mediawiki.org talk page for Help:Tables.

That way the developer only has to make a single post to one very specific centralized talk page. Problem solved.

All those people interested in the topic of tables (like me) could put the Mediawiki.org Help:Tables page on their global, cross-wiki watchlist.

I have incorporated many things I have learned from the English Wikipedia Help:Sorting talk page to the Help:Sorting and Help:Tables pages. I would do the same with info I find on the Mediawiki.org help pages, and their talk pages.

But I don't have time to check yet another newsletter for the few crumbs of useful info I am specifically interested in. And I don't want another watchlist. I check 4 regularly now at least once a week: English Wikipedia, Commons, Wikia, Shoutwiki.