Meet Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia Anyone Can Code

March 27, 2013 at 1:33 am 2 comments

It sounds like you can only use Lua for encyclopedia-like functions (e.g., handling citations), but what a wonderful step toward having a tool for building simulations and data processing & visualizations into the encyclopedia.  It’s a nice new motivation for “Computing for Everyone.”

It began as the encyclopedia anyone can edit. And now it’s also the encyclopedia anyone can program.

As of this weekend, anyone on Earth can use Lua — a 20-year-old programming language already championed by the likes of Angry Birds and World of Warcraft — to build material on Wikipedia and its many sister sites, such as Wikiquote and Wiktionary. Wikipedia has long offered simple tools that let tens of thousands of volunteer editors reuse little bits of text across its encyclopedia pages, but this is something different.

“We wanted to provide editors with a real programming language,” says Rob Lanphier, the director of platform engineering at the Wikimedia Foundation, the not-for-profit that oversees the online encyclopedia. “This will make things easier for editors, but it will also be significantly faster.”

via Meet Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia Anyone Can Code | Wired Enterprise |

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cecily  |  March 27, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Mark– You can definitely do things non-Encyclopedia with Lua. One of our high school science projects used it for something that had nothing to do with an encyclopedia; I think he made a mobile app game. I haven’t yet had a chanced to track it down and figure out what it is and isn’t good for, but since your blog is the second time this week that I have seen it referenced(the science fair was the first); it is rising on my priority list!

    • 2. Mark Guzdial  |  March 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      Completely agreed that Lua the language can be used for other things. I have a book on how to build video games in Lua on my bookshelf. The question is whether the Lua embedded within Wikipedia allows you to do more. Could you build a videogame? Or a visualization or a simulation? What’s the API for Lua within Wikipedia?


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