Alex Z. <> changed:

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--- Comment #11 from Alex Z. <>  2010-01-17 23:44:33 UTC ---
While I haven't actually verified this, my guess is that the cite templates are
slow due to feature bloat and over-standardization. 

The cite templates on enwiki include all sorts of extra parameters for things
like translations, summaries, multiple editors, etc. 90% of citations aren't
going to use more than a few key parameters, but the templates still have to
evaluate parser functions based on every possible option.

Additionally, almost every citation template is just a wrapper around
[[Template:Citation/core]], adding a call to the meta-template for each usage
and making the other problem worse by having even more extra parameters, many
of which aren't even exposed in the standard templates.

The sample code is going to be faster because it doesn't have nearly as many
options, so it can format the citation by just concatenating parameters and
separators, and it does it all with PHP. That could still be extended to
replicate the current citation templates, but then if a wiki wants a change to
a reference format, it would have to be done by a sysadmin.

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