VisualEditor: Link input widget should have separate inputs for target and display text


The link input widget should have separate fields for the link target and the displayed text.

From various comments at bug 48789

There are essentially two ways to create a link:


#2 You click the link button first, enter the target and get out of the dialog,
at which point the link text (identical to chosen link target) will be entered.

With this method, the user will often have to adjust the link's text
afterwards, for instance in the case of plurals or if the target article is
disambiguated with parentheses. But it is not clear to the user that adjusting
the link text is safe and won't create a broken link; indeed the crucial
distinction between link text and link target remains obscure. (Changing a
singular to a plural is especially difficult since editing links at the end is
not allowed.)

I have checked the workflow of entering links in LibreOffice, Gmail and Word;
they are all basically the same as in the Visual Editor, with two major

a) the dialog popup window has a clear OK button, and [bug 52462]

b) the dialog popup window contains separate clearly labeled boxes for the link
text and the link target.

I believe both of these changes make a lot of sense.

An English Wikipedia user comments that the current behaviour of the input widget is not intuitive at all:

"I clicked the link tool while not focused on any text, to try and add a new
link. I got a largely empty box with no instructions, and the next word in the
article highlighted within the box. I fiddled with it a few times, and still
don't know if typing in the box A. changes the text of the link. B. allows me
to select more words. C. Changes what is linked to, or D. is followed by
another, nearly identical box for a secondary function"

To me this is further evidence that we need two boxes: one to enter the link
target and one to enter the link display text. The second box would default to
the same as the link for internal links and for external links either (ideally)
the page title or (less ideally but probably easier) the filename sans

See also bug 51438

Adam Cuerden comments again on the suggestion to have separate boxes for link
target and link title:
"Yes [that would be better], but do make sure it's on the same page. Don't give
one dialogue, then a second. Also, if one of the boxes is left blank, it should
be auto-completed from the other box. "

For the second part of the comment they mean that if someone gives a link
target (e.g. Fish) and doesn't specify any title, produce a link: [[Fish]]
If someone gives a link title (e.g. Hedgehog) but doesn't specify a target,
produce the link: [[Hedgehog]].

Version: unspecified
Severity: enhancement
See Also:

bzimport set Reference to bz53973.
Thryduulf created this task.Via LegacySep 10 2013, 12:24 AM
Jdforrester-WMF added a comment.Via ConduitMar 19 2014, 2:39 AM

This is not a WONTFIX, but it comes close in terms of making the user experience too heavy (for detailed reasoning, see endless bugs passim).

Jdforrester-WMF added a comment.Via ConduitMar 19 2014, 2:41 AM
  • Bug 51438 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Elitre added a comment.EditedVia ConduitSep 2 2014, 11:46 AM

Copy Google Docs solution?

To elaborate, I don't think that labelling this solution as "ugly" is a strong rationale to why it shouldn't actually work for us. I'm fairly sure there must be a fair amount of research behind something that Google came up with for millions of people, and editors are constantly confused by our current interface instead.

Jdforrester-WMF moved this task to Backlog on the VisualEditor workboard.Via WebNov 24 2014, 4:16 PM
coldchrist added a subscriber: coldchrist.Via WebMay 6 2015, 7:01 PM
Melos added a subscriber: Melos.Via WebMay 17 2015, 6:29 PM
Quiddity added a subscriber: Quiddity.Via WebJun 15 2015, 5:20 PM
Elitre added a project: Design.Via WebJun 15 2015, 5:20 PM
Trizek-WMF added a subscriber: Trizek-WMF.Via WebJun 16 2015, 3:10 PM
Trizek-WMF added a comment.Via WebJun 17 2015, 8:44 AM

I've made some edits yesterday evening with VE in order to add an external link. Here is what I did:

  1. select the text
  2. click on the link icon
  3. type my URL in the field
  4. click on "Done" button
  5. See a red link
  6. Realize there is a special tab for external links
  7. Start again...

The same happens to me quite all the time. :/

Whatamidoing-WMF added a comment.Via WebJun 17 2015, 5:51 PM

@Trizek-WMF: It's supposed to automagically switch to the External links tab if you type "http://" at the start. Is the automatic detection not working for you?

Trizek-WMF added a comment.Via WebJun 18 2015, 8:38 AM

@Whatamidoing-WMF Works with Chromium, but not on Firefox (38.0 canonical 1.0 for Ubuntu).

Elitre added a comment.Via WebJun 18 2015, 11:10 AM

Changing a wikilink to an external link is not so smart, because text in the External links tab is not automatically selected, and therefore needs to be selected before being replaced by typing or pasting.

Mattflaschen removed a subscriber: Mattflaschen.Via WebJun 22 2015, 5:55 AM
Matanya added a subscriber: Matanya.Via WebJul 22 2015, 3:57 PM
Restricted Application added a subscriber: Aklapper. · View Herald TranscriptVia HeraldJul 22 2015, 3:57 PM
Trizek-WMF added a comment.Via WebOct 8 2015, 1:36 PM

New feedback concerning the separate input fields. I also strongly support this idea.

Trizek-WMF awarded a token.Via WebOct 8 2015, 1:36 PM

Add Comment