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Show all non-main namespace pages in mobile web treatment.
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Description

Currently we bounce the user out to an external browser when attempting to view certain pages, such as Special: and Category: pages, because mobile-html cannot render them correctly.

Let's instead load them in our existing WebView, but just load them as a mobile-web version of the page (i.e. not using mobile-html), and no longer bounce the user out.

Event Timeline

Just some random thoughts and observations around us switching to showing "all" wiki pages inside our WebView:

  • Overall this will work fairly well, and will be a nearly seamless experience.
  • This may even lead to us being able to use VisualEditor inside our WebView, without any modification.
  • Since we pass our cookies with every request, even those coming from the WebView, all pages in the WebView will inherit the user's login state.

However, this will come with a few caveats:

  • Since they are not loaded using the mobile-html endpoint, pages outside the Main namespace will not have the same native affordances that regular articles enjoy, including:
    • They won't be saveable for offline reading.
    • They won't be themeable with Dark, Sepia, etc. themes. For example, if you have the Dark theme enabled, and are browsing an article, then navigate to a Category: page, it will suddenly become a light-themed page.
    • They won't have a table-of-contents, language switching, and so on.

This runs the risk of creating a somewhat fragmented experience, but I do believe that keeping the user in the app for all Wiki pages outweighs a slightly inconsistent experience.

@JTannerWMF @schoenbaechler What are your thoughts on proceeding with this?

Thanks for the neat summary @Dbrant, this is an exciting update!

(...) but I do believe that keeping the user in the app for all Wiki pages outweighs a slightly inconsistent experience.

+1, I’m wondering if we can do something indicate that the view’s *different* than a native page to set correct expectations. What possibilities do we have for it @Dbrant? Can you post a screenshot of the current implementation?

As an example, here’s how Twitter for Android handles external web links:

I agree it is worth the tradeoff and also would prefer taking the approach listed by Robin

LGoto triaged this task as Medium priority.Feb 11 2021, 5:09 PM

Category pages display as "this page does not exist". Report from a user:

On the page
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germ_theory_denialism
there is a link in the "see also" section to [[List of germ theory denialists]]; this is a redirect to [[Category:Germ theory denialists]].
In the app, following this link gives a 404 error. On the website, the link works correctly.


@schoenbaechler @JTannerWMF This is now done with code review. Please load the APK and see what you think of how non-article pages are loading now. Try searching for Category: pages, Portal: pages, and so on.
https://github.com/wikimedia/apps-android-wikipedia/actions/runs/647174869

Keep in mind that we can only load these types of pages in a very limited way, as mentioned previously: i.e. they will not follow the current theme selection, they won't have a working table of contents, and a few other oddities that we don't have control over.

Thx @DbrantI’m enthusiastic about this update!

The Category: and Portal: pages work perfectly IMO. I like that the options in the bottom toolbar are clearly communicating that they aren’t available (via disabled state).

Can we add these pages to the list of links that are opened in-app? 👇

  • The Edit history of an article so it’s less “detached” from the article reading experience?
  • The Suggested edits FAQ, respectively the Wikipedia App FAQ so the crucial help links don’t l

@schoenbaechler

  • The Edit history of an article so it’s less “detached” from the article reading experience?

The edit history should open in the app now. Please try it and let me know if it doesn't load.

  • The Suggested edits FAQ, respectively the Wikipedia App FAQ so the crucial help links don’t l

This will not be possible, because these pages exist on mediawiki.org instead of wikipedia.org. Our app only handles pages on wikipedia.org.

@schoenbaechler

  • The Edit history of an article so it’s less “detached” from the article reading experience?

The edit history should open in the app now. Please try it and let me know if it doesn't load.

👏👏👏

  • The Suggested edits FAQ, respectively the Wikipedia App FAQ so the crucial help links don’t l

This will not be possible, because these pages exist on mediawiki.org instead of wikipedia.org. Our app only handles pages on wikipedia.org.

Could you investigate on making an exception for the SE FAQ ? It’s still a UX issue that needs to be solved and mentioned in the most recent usability tests. I can create a separate issue for it if we want to move forward with this one here.

Thanks for the hard work, Dmitry!