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Web-based AutoWikiBrowser alternative
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Feb 6 2017, 7:28 AM
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Proposed in Community-Wishlist-Survey-2016. Received 56 support votes, and ranked #17 out of 265 proposals. View full proposal with discussion and votes here.


AutoWikiBrowser is a huge success, helping people make millions upon millions of semi-automated edits, making repetitive tasks so much easier to accomplish. However it has lots of problems:

  • It is a desktop app, so
    • It's Windows only
    • It requires installation (including dependency as cumbersome as .NET framework)
    • It requires updates
    • It can't follow you across devices
  • It was created without localization in mind so making its interface support multiple languages would amount to a rewrite
  • While it's written in a language that is reasonably popular, it's less popular among open source developers and overall less popular than modern web stack languages. As a result, it never had enough developers.
  • Very early on, it had cosmetic "general fixes" introduced to it, that now generate lots of unnecessary controversy, slow down page processing and drain developer time on supporting them.

Who would benefit

power users, potentially expanding reach to "simple mortals"

Proposed solution

Create a web-based replacement for AWB. Having a web app would also allow users to contribute on mobile platforms (phones and tablets) where typing is hard, but clicking "Save"/"Reject" is something people can do while commuting to work, for example.

Proposed implementation: I envision a site on Tool Labs that hosts a mostly-JS AWB that does editing. The backend would only authenticate users (OAuth), store settings and editing lists, and collect statistics. Most of JS code can be made reusable in Node.js for use by fully-automated bot developers.

Technical details

Time, expertise and skills required

  • e.g. 2-3 weeks, advanced contributor, javascript, css, etc

Suitable for

  • e.g. Hackathon, GSOC, Outreachy, etc.



Related links

Event Timeline

It requires installation (including dependency as cumbersome as .NET framework)

Installation of the app itself is just unzipping a zip... If that's too difficult for people... ;)

Granted, .NET FW is somewhat harder, but should just be running an EXE from MS on older Windows, else letting it auto install on newer...

I like the idea of having a Web version of AWB whether it be Java based or something else and there is already a working version so most of the ground work has been put in place by Joey to do just that.

I also believe however we need to continue support and development of the client side version as well.

IMO the best use of this ticket would be to discuss how the 2 can best work together because I think there should and could be a collaboration of the two so that they can share resources (such as the Checkuser page, The Type fixes page, Template redirects and others).

I think it would be greatly beneficial as well to separate other things like perhaps general features so that we can make them easier to tailor by project. Some of this has already been done with the JWB. This would make it much much easier to tailor the general fixes by project and could reduce overall maintenance and development requirements on both by sharing resources. Its important to remember AWB is used by a lot of projects outside Wikia and abandoning a working client version of the application, to me, seems like a bad idea.

This task was proposed in the Community-Wishlist-Survey-2016 and in its current state needs owner. Wikimedia is participating in Google Summer of Code 2017 and Outreachy Round 14. To the subscribers -- would this task or a portion of it be a good fit for either of these programs? If so, would you be willing to help mentor this project? Remember, each outreach project requires a minimum of one primary mentor, and co-mentor.

There's an AWB-style script on enwiki (it's rather buggy but works for simple non-regex find-and-replace). Is the replacement going to be based on it?

No, 100% new code base. Reusing is problematic for a lot of reasons:

  • Unclear license. The script says it's GPL, WP edit form says CC.
  • Where it resides. I don't want to run it off wikis, and I won't be using libraries MW uses.
  • I'm playing with a completely different tech stack right now, without even jQuery.

AWB is used extensively outside of WMF properties.

Hosting on tool labs isn't that great for those people.

Would it possibly be better as an extension?

This task has been assigned to the same task owner for more than two years. Resetting task assignee due to inactivity, to decrease task cookie-licking and to get a slightly more realistic overview of plans. Please feel free to assign this task to yourself again if you still realistically work or plan to work on this task - it would be welcome!

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(For the records, two emails were sent to assignee addresses before resetting assignees. See T228575 for more info and for potential feedback. Thanks!)

@He7d3r As already mentioned above:

There's an AWB-style script on enwiki (it's rather buggy but works for simple non-regex find-and-replace). Is the replacement going to be based on it

Aklapper changed the subtype of this task from "Task" to "Feature Request".