As an update on the goals process for WMF engineering, we've begun
fleshing out out the top priorities for the first quarter. Going
forward, we'll aim to call out the top priorities for each quarter as
we approach it, to create more shared visibility into the most urgent
and high-impact projects we're working on.

I've decided for now to use a division between "User-Impacting
Changes" and "Cross-Functional Platform and Process Improvements". The
intent of calling out both areas is to ensure that important
organizational priorities don't fall off our collective radar. At the
management level, the intent is for us to pay special attention to the
priorities called out in this manner, and this may also impact our
willingness to request help from across the organization if necessary
to support these priorities, at least in Q1.

I've merged the current draft into the goals document, here:

Once again, this is draft and marked as such. The "Impact" column will
include links to relevant metrics once those are a bit more solid; if
you look further down in the document you'll see that these are being
refined and tweaked in multiple areas right now.

A little bit of rationale for some items that may surprise you:

- I've decided to list HHVM as the top priority in both categories.
This is because a) it's a very complex undertaking from an engineering
perspective and requires significant coordination across development &
operations, b) it's probably the biggest change regarding how code
gets executed in production since we adopted PHP in the first place,
c) the expected performance benefits for many uncached logged-in user
operations are very significant (I defer to the team to quantify
before throwing out estimates).

This is also indicative of the importance we're attaching to site
performance. There's no question that performance is directly
correlated with user engagement, and it's appropriate that we spend
significant effort in this area.

- We're elevating SUL finalisation ( ) to a top priority,
and I've classified it as user-impacting. This is because it's on the
critical path for making it easier to develop cross-site functionality
(as long as we have to deal with the edge case of "detached accounts",
certain features that work across wikis are just trickier to
implement), and one of those long term issues of technical debt we've
been kicking down the road for years. It's also a pretty complex
project -- if it goes wrong and we mess up our account database, we're
in big trouble. So we want to make sure we have lots of eyeballs on
this from a technical and community management perspective. We may not
completely wrap up in Q1 since we need to give users whose accounts
are affected significant warning time, which is just elapsed time we
can't shorten.

- Front-end code standardization is called out as a top priority. We
really need to dig ourselves out of the mess of having disjointed
templating systems, widget libraries, and JS frameworks across our
codebase if we want to increase development velocity and UX
consistency. I'm prepared to sacrifice short term development velocity
on other projects in order to make this happen.

- The content API that Gabriel is working on ( ) is
called out as a top priority. This is because the Parsoid output (for
which the content API will be a high performance front-end) is now
getting to the point where it's starting to become plausible to
increasingly use it not just for VisualEditor, but also for views as
well. The potential here are performance benefits across the board:
for logged-in users in general by consistently relying on fast, cached
output; for users loading VisualEditor by giving them most of the
payload required to edit in read mode; for users saving through
VisualEditor by potentially turning the wikitext transformation into a
post-save asynchronous process and thereby making saves near

Moreover, it will put us on the long term path towards possibly using
HTML5 as MediaWiki's native format, supporting HTML5-only wikis, and
more. And it will be valuable for third party re-use and re-processing
of Wikimedia content for a multitude of use cases. Last but not least,
it's also a great use case for a service-oriented architecture
including REST APIs & good/clean API documentation.

In short, this is a big deal, and it has lots and lots of
architectural implications -- so raising the visibility on this is
intended to get more people to actually think through what all of this
means for the future of MediaWiki.

Other elements of the prioritization shouldn't be surprising:
Phabricator is a big deal, and it's coming; Mobile (including new
contributory features) and VE (including a really awesome new
citations experience we're prepping for) continue to be high on the
agenda, and we need to standardize and improve our quantitative
measures across the board. Growth is going to work on new user
acquisition in Q1 which didn't quite make the cut for the top 5
because it's not as broadly impacting as some of the other things
listed here, but still a big deal -- as are other things not called
out here. The intent isn't to demote anyone's work, but to give
ourselves shared awareness of some of the most mission-critical things
that are going on.

If you do feel the prioritization is off, leave a note on the talk
page. It's still draft and we reserve the right to correct and adjust
as we learn things, but we'll wrap the Q1 prioritization by July 1.


Erik Möller
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation

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