Commons app – our plans for the next 6 months

We are excited to announce our (tentative) plans for the Wikimedia Commons app for the next 6 months! 🙂

A little background: The Wikimedia Commons app was funded via an Individual Engagement Grant (IEG) last year. Several new features and improvements were made to the app over the course of the previous grant. Examples include a list and map of nearby places that need photos (based on Wikidata), category suggestions based on the image title, prevention of duplicate uploads, and a new tutorial to educate new users on what types of photos should or should not be uploaded. 20554 new files were uploaded via the app during the grant period with an overall deletion rate of 15.74% (11.7% in the final two weeks after the new tutorial was implemented), and 3485 images that were uploaded via the app were used in Wikimedia articles.

While we are very happy with the progress made, users have requested many other improvements that we would like to make but were not able to fit into the scope of the previous grant. Thus we are proposing a renewal of the IEG in order to work on these. Highlights of the proposed improvements include:

Mock-up of the planned new UI
  • Enhancing the “Nearby places that need photos” feature by (1) allowing users to upload their image directly from a location on the list or map, with suggested title and categories based on the associated Wikidata item, and (2) displaying the user’s real-time position on the map to allow easier navigation to the location they wish to photograph
  • Improving user education by displaying Commons account and user talk notifications (e.g. picture nominated for deletion) in the app, adding a gallery of featured images, and adding various notices and explanations in the upload screen
  • A sleeker, more intuitive, and more interactive user interface – a floating action button for uploads, “Nearby places that need photos” in a tab alongside the user’s contributions, and a panel to display Commons account notifications and information about the nearest place that needs photos
  • Various technical and quality-of-life improvements, such as two-factor authentication login, multiple uploads, preventing overwrites, and fixing memory leaks and battery drain issues

 

We would very much appreciate feedback and suggestions on the renewal proposal. Please do take a look at it, feel free to ask questions and make new suggestions on the Discussion page, and/or endorse the proposal if you see fit. If you would like to be part of the project, new volunteers and additions to our diverse team are always welcome – please visit our GitHub repository or Google groups forum and say “Hi”. 🙂

Commons app – our plans for the next 6 months

Wikimedia Hackathon Vienna 2017 & Prague pre-hackathon

Had a blast at the Wikimedia Hackathon in Vienna! 🙂 A few of us also got together for a pre-hackathon in Prague a few days before the start of the hackathon, courtesy of our hosts (Wikimedia Czech Republic).

Prague pre-hackathon

 

We worked together from the 12th to the 16th of May in Wikimedia Czech Republic’s co-working office. 5 days and several svĂ­ÄŤkovás later, we produced:

A map of nearby places that need pictures!

Every pin on that map is a Wikidata item that needs pictures. You can scroll around and browse, or you can select an item to get more information about it, or directions to it. (Many thanks to Mapbox for their API)

 

 

Also… a navigation drawer!

So very much better than using an overflow menu in the action bar. ‘Nuff said.

Users can now view the coordinates of their uploaded image, and date of upload.

Also, we added a logout option, and are now giving users the option of choosing how many of their previous uploads they would like to view on the main screen.

Flyers were created to publicize the app in the hackathon, videos were made, breathtaking sights were seen… oh, and Adam wrote a blog post covering the pre-hackathon, too.

Commons Uploader flyer

Wikimedia Hackathon Vienna

 

After a short break, we met up again (in Vienna this time!) for the Wikimedia Hackathon (19 – 21 May). While we possibly weren’t as prolific during the hackathon, some memories that stand out in my mind include:

  • Learning how to detect and fix memory issues in our app from Dmitry Brant (Wikipedia Android app team).
  • Introducing new contributors to working on the app – Adam Baso and Fitos made their first commits on our Android app GitHub repo (welcome guys!)
  • Being given UI help and pointers by Rita and Pau
  • The tremendous amount of support shown by the community during our slot at the open mic and showcase 🙂
  • Being taken around Vienna by Praveen and Tobias on the final night, including an amazing Italian dinner
  • Realizing that no matter how excited I am about a new patch, I should NOT push anything to production without going through beta (oops. sorry all those who crashed!)

 

Thank you

To the folks at Wikimedia Czech Republic (Vojtech, Jan, Petra, Martin, and others) who tirelessly worked to make the pre-hackathon happen, hosted us in their office, helped us with whatever we needed and showed us around Prague: Thank you.

To my team who put up with me at the pre-hackathon and hackathon (Neslihan, Vivek, Dinu, Tobias, Adam Shorland, John, and hopefully I haven’t forgotten anyone…): Thank you.

To the Wikimedia Hackathon organizers and scholarship committee, and the wonderful people we worked with at the hackathon (Dmitry, Rita, Johann, Pau, Adam Baso, Fitos, etc): Thank you.

It was all amazing, and I hope to do it all over again next year. 🙂


The Commons app is free to use, no ads. You can download it here.

We are resolving a few bugs with the new improvements listed in this post, so the new features are currently only available in beta. Anyone can sign up for beta testing here. When the bugs have been resolved, the new features will be released to everyone.

Wikimedia Hackathon Vienna 2017 & Prague pre-hackathon

March 2017 update

Lots of new stuff in the app recently!

version 2.0

We finally released v2.0 of the app, after one and a half years in v1.x! 🙂 It felt appropriate, given that the app has changed considerably from the early version 1s, and has diverged quite a bit from the original legacy app.

Beta testing

With over 2000 active installs, we decided that we should migrate to using a beta version for testing new releases, rather than pushing directly to production and hoping for the best. Opt in at https://play.google.com/apps/testing/fr.free.nrw.commons

Notification if picture is a duplicate 

As requested on the Commons village pump, we implemented a check to see if the exact same image already exists in the Commons database, in order to prevent unintentional duplicate uploads. This was done by checking for similar SHA1 hashcodes using this API

 

Updated licenses and added option to select them in upload screen

Users can now select their licenses directly from the upload screen instead of just via Settings! This has been implemented via a drop-down menu underneath the title and description fields. CC-BY-4.0 and CC-BY-SA-4.0 have also been added to the available licenses to choose from.

New and improved UI

The UI has received an update, and is now in line with Material design guidelines. Also, a light theme has been added, which is more suited for daytime use. This can be accessed via Settings as shown below.

Updated Google Play store listing

Our Google Play store listing has received an overhaul, with a new description and new screenshots that reflect the current state of the app.

New volunteers

We would like to welcome first-time contributors Aditi Bhatnagar, Veyndan Stuart, Vivek Maskara, and Neslihan Turan on board! 🙂 Many of the recent improvements in the app have been thanks to them.

New volunteers are always welcome. Join us at https://github.com/commons-app/apps-android-commons.

Prague pre-hackathon and Vienna hackathon

We will be sending a team to the Wikimedia Hackathon Vienna to work on improving the Nearby function of the app, and development will start during the Prague Pre-Hackathon that Wikimedia Czech Republic has kindly organized for us. More details in our discussion thread.

March 2017 update

IEG Update (October)

Things have been pretty crazy lately. I’ve been scheduled for dental surgery, and will likely be moving to Australia in a couple months’ time, with all the necessary preparations yet to be made! On the bright side, an exciting new development for the app – a few folks have expressed interest in coming together to work on new features for the app during the Vienna hackathon next year, so we’ve been trying to make that happen.

3 new features in the app:

Option to copy title and description from previous upload (#65). A button was added to allow users to use the same title and desc as the previous upload, to make it more convenient for people who upload several images of the same topic consecutively.

ieg-copy-title-desc

Suggest categories based on entered title (#43). In addition to suggestions for recent categories and nearby categories, we have added a new type of suggestion: title-based categories. A search is performed for categories matching the title that the user has entered for the image, via asynchronous queries to the Commons MediaWiki API. This is the same API call used for the category search tool.

An issue with this implementation is that it is subject to the same limitations as the category search tool. For instance, it works well for simple titles such as “pancakes”. However, if someone titles their image “Nintendo sign at Tokyo branch in Taito”, it searches for that exact string instead of searching for “Nintendo”, “sign”, “Tokyo”, “branch” and “Taito”. This issue has been documented at #306. Solving it would likely require substantial language processing capabilities (splitting into words, extracting keywords, etc), so it will have to be left for future work.

ieg-title-cats

Filter out year categories (#47). Categories such as”X in 2006″ are very unlikely to be appropriate, so we have filtered out categories containing 4-digit numbers starting with ’19’ and ’20’ from all category suggestions. An exception is made for categories containing the current year or previous year. E.g. if a user searches for “Burning Man”, he should see a suggestion for ‘Burning Man 2015’ but not ‘Burning Man 2005′. The rationale for this design choice is that people are unlikely to store more than 2 years’ worth of pictures in their phone. So if someone has pictures of Burning Man on their phone, it is likely to be for the 2015 or 2016 event, not for 2005 etc.

We are open towards the possibility of use cases that we have not thought of, though, so please feel free to chime in in GitHub issue if you disagree with our rationale.

IEG Update (October)

List of bugs fixed (Phase 1)

This post contains a running list of bugs fixed and Google Play releases of the app, for Phase 1 (Fix existing bugs/crashes) of my IEG project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

List of bugs fixed (Phase 1)

A new chapter begins: IEG

My IEG proposal has been selected for this round! 🙂 I’ll be spending the next 6 months working on the ‘Upload to Commons’ Android app, and I’m absolutely psyched. It’s been announced on the official Wikimedia blog as well (woohoo!). I marvel at how it seems like not so long ago that I was downloading the GitHub client for the first time and trying to figure out the whole collaborative open source thing… I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Outreachy and my two amazing mentors. Mentored internships are awesomesauce. Srsly. It’s never too late to do one.

In other news, the ‘Upload to Commons’ app is now known as the ‘Wikimedia Commons’ app! Yes, we’ve been authorized by Wikimedia Foundation to use their trademark Commons logo and name, contract has been signed and all that. There was a little snag with the app being suspended while we tried to get the contract to Google, but that should all be sorted now. Hopefully.

We also had our first new collaborator on our GitHub repo in a long time, and he’s done some really awesome stuff, including helping us migrate our project to Gradle (using Maven with outdated dependencies on Android Studio was a huuuuge pain in the butt). Welcome, Adam Jones!

Will probably try to update more often, with my IEG project starting and all. Stay tuned! 🙂

A new chapter begins: IEG

Three cheers for Outreachy!

Outreachy’s goal is to encourage more people to get involved with FOSS – and I think they’ve succeeded in my case! I’ve always identified with the ethos and ideology of FOSS, have always wanted to contribute, but was previously too intimidated to get involved. Plus, lets be honest – starting out is always one of the most difficult parts, starting out without a mentor is harder, and starting out without a mentor while simultaneously juggling a day job even more so.

While I can’t say that Outreachy inspired my interest in FOSS (I’ve always been interested), they’ve provided a clearer and easier path to get involved by alleviating the other two issues – mentors and finances. Having the opportunity to get paid to work on FOSS full-time while being guided by experienced FOSS contributors has been absolutely fantastic, and has helped me get over the starting-out hump. Thank you, Marina and everyone else behind Outreachy. 🙂

So…. what next?

I’m still unsure as to where I’ll go from here with regards to FOSS. Being able to continue working on FOSS (and with Wikimedia) as a job would be amazing. Wikimedia offers Individual Engagement Grants for people who want to undertake a project to improve various aspects of it, so I’ve submitted a proposal for the next IEG round. It’s a bit of a far-reaching goal – I’m not a long-time contributor and I haven’t received too many endorsements on my proposal yet – but it’s a goal all the same. 🙂

Three cheers for Outreachy!