[MediaWiki-l] No central repository for templates?

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[MediaWiki-l] No central repository for templates?

John Lewis-2
Hello everyone,

https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Help:Templates

Help:Templates says that there is no central repository for templates.
Is there a technical reason for that?

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Re: No central repository for templates?

Sam Wilson
On Sat, 13 Jan 2018, at 9:21 AM, John Lewis wrote:
> Help:Templates says that there is no central repository for templates.
> Is there a technical reason for that?

No technical reason against such a thing, I think, so much as that templates are very often quite site-specific and tied in to things like specific skins, site CSS or JS, and bureaucratic processes on particular wikis.

That said, you can grab a template from any MediaWiki wiki out there via the Special:Export page. This has a "Include templates" checkbox, that will make it download not only the template that you request but also all of the templates and modules on which it depends. (It won't get associated pages in other namespaces though, unless you list those explicitly.)

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Re: No central repository for templates?

Amir E. Aharoni
In reply to this post by John Lewis-2
More precisely, there is a bit of a technical reason: very simply, such a
repository would be itself a piece of software, and it was never completely
developed.

There were some attempts to do it, with names such as "scary transclusion",
"shadow namespaces", and maybe others, but they were never completed, at
least not well enough for Wikimedia sites. There were issues of security,
caching, localization, and more. It's possible to resolve these issues, but
unfortunately it was never prioritized.

It would be VERY desirable to have such a central repository. While some
templates are indeed site-specific, many could be reused by different
Wikimedia projects and by other sites: infoboxes, citation references, unit
conversion, chess games, coordinates, hatnotes, citation needed, and
hundreds of others.

Exporting a template from another site is technically possible, but the
process itself is far from convenient because many templates involve nested
templates, and have dependencies on local CSS pages. Importing them
completely is manual and tedious for the more complicated ones.
Furthermore, it creates a fork, which is often not great.

I'd further argue that many templates could be converted to real extensions
or even core features. For example, there's the Capiunto extension, which
attempts to do it for infoboxes. It would be an even more robust solution,
but perhaps a global templates repository is a good intermediate step.

בתאריך 13 בינו׳ 2018 03:22,‏ "John Lewis" <[hidden email]> כתב:

> Hello everyone,
>
> https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Help:Templates
>
> Help:Templates says that there is no central repository for templates.
> Is there a technical reason for that?
>
> _______________________________________________
> MediaWiki-l mailing list
> To unsubscribe, go to:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/mediawiki-l
>
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Re: No central repository for templates?

Sam Wilson
On Sat, 13 Jan 2018, at 2:34 PM, Amir E. Aharoni wrote:
> I'd further argue that many templates could be converted to real extensions
> or even core features. For example, there's the Capiunto extension, which
> attempts to do it for infoboxes. It would be an even more robust solution,
> but perhaps a global templates repository is a good intermediate step.

Yes! Definitely. I reckon there's lots to be said for widely-used templates actually being parser functions or lua modules (or whatever is appropriate) in extensions. It feels to me like once a template is useful enough and of enough of a general nature to be used on multiple sites, then it makes sense to move it into an extension. This means that modifications to it are more carefully made (i.e. can follow normal code review processes) and surprises are fewer for all the wikis using the feature.

It's similar with gadgets, I think. For example, HotCat is used all over the place, including with non-Wikimedia sites dynamically loading it from Commons, and would be great as an extension.

The downside of course is that extension-ified templates become much less easy for normal wiki-editors to modify, but I guess if a template is used on lots of sites that could also be seen as a reasonable thing.

I don't think a global template repository is an intermediate step, though. It sounds like it's much more complicated than piecemeal extensionification.

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Re: No central repository for templates?

Chad
In reply to this post by Amir E. Aharoni
On Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 10:35 PM Amir E. Aharoni <
[hidden email]> wrote:

> More precisely, there is a bit of a technical reason: very simply, such a
> repository would be itself a piece of software, and it was never completely
> developed.
>
> There were some attempts to do it, with names such as "scary transclusion",
> "shadow namespaces", and maybe others, but they were never completed, at
> least not well enough for Wikimedia sites. There were issues of security,
> caching, localization, and more. It's possible to resolve these issues, but
> unfortunately it was never prioritized.
>

^^ This ^^

Basically: nobody ever had the time to drive it to completion. There's no
technical reason it couldn't be done.

-Chad
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Re: No central repository for templates?

John Lewis-2
On Sun, 2018-01-14 at 12:59 +0000, Chad wrote:

> On Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 10:35 PM Amir E. Aharoni <
> [hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > More precisely, there is a bit of a technical reason: very simply,
> > such a
> > repository would be itself a piece of software, and it was never
> > completely
> > developed.
> >
> > There were some attempts to do it, with names such as "scary
> > transclusion",
> > "shadow namespaces", and maybe others, but they were never
> > completed, at
> > least not well enough for Wikimedia sites. There were issues of
> > security,
> > caching, localization, and more. It's possible to resolve these
> > issues, but
> > unfortunately it was never prioritized.
> >
>
> ^^ This ^^
>
> Basically: nobody ever had the time to drive it to completion.
> There's no
> technical reason it couldn't be done.
>
> -Chad

What license would make sense to distribute templates under?

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Re: No central repository for templates?

Chad
On Sun, Jan 14, 2018 at 5:35 AM John Lewis <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> On Sun, 2018-01-14 at 12:59 +0000, Chad wrote:
> > On Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 10:35 PM Amir E. Aharoni <
> > [hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > > More precisely, there is a bit of a technical reason: very simply,
> > > such a
> > > repository would be itself a piece of software, and it was never
> > > completely
> > > developed.
> > >
> > > There were some attempts to do it, with names such as "scary
> > > transclusion",
> > > "shadow namespaces", and maybe others, but they were never
> > > completed, at
> > > least not well enough for Wikimedia sites. There were issues of
> > > security,
> > > caching, localization, and more. It's possible to resolve these
> > > issues, but
> > > unfortunately it was never prioritized.
> > >
> >
> > ^^ This ^^
> >
> > Basically: nobody ever had the time to drive it to completion.
> > There's no
> > technical reason it couldn't be done.
> >
> > -Chad
>
> What license would make sense to distribute templates under?
>
>
I would assume something Create Commons so as to be most compatible with
Wikimedia wikis, but that's a trivial implementation detail.

-Chad
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