Mailing List Archive

Flash and other proprietary technologies on Wikimedia projects
Hi,

Le mercredi 04 août 2010 à 15:39 -0700, Neil Kandalgaonkar a écrit :
> On 8/4/10 3:14 PM, Aryeh Gregor wrote:
> > On Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 6:10 PM, Neil Kandalgaonkar<neilk@wikimedia.org> wrote:
> >> On a more serious note: when it comes to Flash on Wikimedia projects,
> >> the WMF board has said no.
> >
> > Has it? Where? I think everyone is grudgingly okay for Flash as a
> > fallback for browsers that don't support standards-based markup . . .
> > but not if it's the only way to get the functionality.
>
> I looked for some sort of meeting minutes before posting, but couldn't
> find them. Maybe I don't know where or how to look.

I don't think there is an official Board resolution about the use of
proprietary technologies on Wikimedia projects. However, Brion and Erik
have been known to have a pretty strong opinion on that, and I believe
Danese and a large part of the WMF tech staff are in the same place.

A few relevant links for a historical perspective:

* "We should permit Flash video playback" thread on foundation-l in 2007
http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.org.wikimedia.commons/2220/

* "Software policy draft" thread on foundation-l in 2007
http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.org.wikimedia.foundation/19547/

* The actual draft:
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Draft_Statement_of_Principles_Regarding_Software_Use


--
Guillaume Paumier
Product Manager, Multimedia Usability
Wikimedia Foundation
Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate



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Re: Flash and other proprietary technologies on Wikimedia projects [ In reply to ]
On Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 6:59 PM, Guillaume Paumier
<gpaumier@wikimedia.org> wrote:
> A few relevant links for a historical perspective:
>

Another, somewhat more recent one:
<http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Minutes/October_3-5,_2008#Open_Standards_.2F_Free_File_Formats>

"The board asked Sue to have Mike Godwin revise the draft policy to a
version that would make it clear that only free formats are
permissible."

Did that ever happen? (Or did anything useful ever come about of it?)

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Casey Brown
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Re: Flash and other proprietary technologies on Wikimedia projects [ In reply to ]
On Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 7:04 PM, Casey Brown <lists@caseybrown.org> wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 6:59 PM, Guillaume Paumier
> <gpaumier@wikimedia.org> wrote:
> > A few relevant links for a historical perspective:
> >
>
> Another, somewhat more recent one:
> <
> http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Minutes/October_3-5,_2008#Open_Standards_.2F_Free_File_Formats
> >
>
> "The board asked Sue to have Mike Godwin revise the draft policy to a
> version that would make it clear that only free formats are
> permissible."
>
> Did that ever happen? (Or did anything useful ever come about of it?)


There was also a proposed policy on Meta: <
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/File_format_policy>, but it looks like it's
historical now.


Alex


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Alex Zariv
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Re: Flash and other proprietary technologies on Wikimedia projects [ In reply to ]
Guillaume Paumier wrote:

> I don't think there is an official Board resolution about the use of
> proprietary technologies on Wikimedia projects. However, Brion and Erik
> have been known to have a pretty strong opinion on that, and I believe
> Danese and a large part of the WMF tech staff are in the same place.
>
> A few relevant links for a historical perspective:
>
> * "We should permit Flash video playback" thread on foundation-l in 2007
> http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.org.wikimedia.commons/2220/
>
> * "Software policy draft" thread on foundation-l in 2007
> http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.org.wikimedia.foundation/19547/
>
> * The actual draft:
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Draft_Statement_of_Principles_Regarding_Software_Use

There is nothing in that, or in
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/File_format_policy which suggests that
we can't use Flash for microphone audio upload, is there? Are people
aware of http://haxe.org/doc/intro and
http://www.gnu.org/software/gnash/ ? The bulk of Flash is no longer
proprietary. I know there are patent issues around some flash video
formats, but at this point I have little confidence that any of the
major browser authors will provide HTML microphone upload in the next
five years. Is there any reason to believe otherwise?

Casey Brown wrote:
> Another, somewhat more recent one:
> http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Minutes/October_3-5,_2008#Open_Standards_.2F_Free_File_Formats>
>
> "The board asked Sue to have Mike Godwin revise the draft policy to a
> version that would make it clear that only free formats are
> permissible."
>
> Did that ever happen? (Or did anything useful ever come about of it?)

Clearly not, so I am asking Sue and Mike directly by adding them as addressees.

I have been working on microphone audio upload since before the
previous decade: http://www.w3.org/TR/device-upload -- I have also
offered to donate some nice ActionScript microphone upload code to the
Foundation which compiles with Haxe if the builder is willing to do
such things as replace the Speex vocodec constant with the equivalent
integer. It doesn't run under gnash yet, but I believe it will soon.
(I don't think there would be consensus for dropping Wikimedia support
for closed-source browsers, as a related matter.)

In return, I have asked the Foundation to spend $2,500 on a contract
with Yaron Koren to enable GIFT -- http://microformats.org/wiki/gift
-- in the Quiz extension. That would be particularly useful if the
efforts to ask the Open University to re-license the several thousand
hours of courseware which they currently publish under cc-by-nc-sa, to
cc-by-sa or cc-by succeed. I have asked multiple parties, including
Board members and the UK Chapter to work on that simultaneously. I
believe at least two of them are working on that effort. In any case,
GIFT is far more compact and more wikitext-like than the existing Quiz
extension to Mediawiki which is bulky and suffers from lack of use in
more than 90 assessments on Wikiversity, for example, while GIFT
assessments can be produced from the assessments in any Moodle course
using Moodle's export function.

However, even though Wayne Mackintosh of the 25,000 teacher-strong
WikiEducator and OER Foundation wrote to Erik back on March 28, saying
they were "very supportive" of the GIFT compatibility project, Erik
has so far hesitated, saying that he wants to see additional support
from the community.

So please, if you think GIFT assessment support and/or Flash
microphone audio upload is a good idea (and I would repeat that the
Spanish Wiktonary still has no audio pronunciation for "hola" even
though the English Wiktionary does) then please let Erik know. Thank
you!

Sincerely,
James Salsman

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Re: Flash and other proprietary technologies on Wikimedia projects [ In reply to ]
On Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 12:34 AM, James Salsman <jsalsman@gmail.com> wrote:
> Casey Brown wrote:
>> "The board asked Sue to have Mike Godwin revise the draft policy to a
>> version that would make it clear that only free formats are
>> permissible."
>>
>> Did that ever happen?  (Or did anything useful ever come about of it?)
>
> Clearly not, so I am asking Sue and Mike directly by adding them as addressees.
>

Mike already responded to that, I guess he's not on the list so it
didn't make it through:

On Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 8:48 AM, Mike Godwin <mgodwin@wikimedia.org> wrote:
> I drafted a policy on October 6, 2008, and gave it to the Board. Not sure
> whether they ultimately approved it.
>
>
> --Mike

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Casey Brown
Cbrown1023

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Re: Flash and other proprietary technologies on Wikimedia projects [ In reply to ]
On Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 12:34 AM, James Salsman <jsalsman@gmail.com> wrote:
> There is nothing in that, or in
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/File_format_policy which suggests that
> we can't use Flash for microphone audio upload, is there?

Sure it does. "Full participation in projects operated by the
Wikimedia Foundation should not require the use of any proprietary
software on the user's system." If microphone upload only works via
proprietary software, it contradicts the draft proposal (although that
was never actually adopted).

> Are people
> aware of http://haxe.org/doc/intro and
> http://www.gnu.org/software/gnash/ ? The bulk of Flash is no longer
> proprietary.

If the specific implementation can be demonstrated to work reliably
with an open-source Flash implementation, that would be another story.

> I know there are patent issues around some flash video
> formats, but at this point I have little confidence that any of the
> major browser authors will provide HTML microphone upload in the next
> five years.  Is there any reason to believe otherwise?

Yes. Ian Hickson added a <device> element to the HTML5 draft within
the last year, and one of its goals is to enable input from
microphones/webcams/etc.:

http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/multipage/commands.html#devices

Almost all if not all major browser vendors have expressed interest in
implementing it. In fact, after video and animation,
microphone/webcam input is the most commonly cited use of Flash, and a
leading goal of HTML5 is to replace Flash. I think it's extremely
likely that at least one browser will implement some form of
microphone input within the next five years. I think it's fairly
likely to happen within the next two years.

Recall that <video> was first implemented in November 2007 by Opera.
It's now supported by the newest version of every major browser, less
than three years later. Browser implementers will implement things
very quickly when they get around to it -- they just have bigger
use-cases to handle right now than microphone input, like polishing up
<video> so it's actually better than Flash. When that's done,
audio/video input will likely come up on everyone's agendas and be
solved within a couple of years.

> (I don't think there would be consensus for dropping Wikimedia support
> for closed-source browsers, as a related matter.)

It's fine to support closed-source software, as long as open-source
software is supported to the same degree. It is not fine to have some
features of Wikipedia work properly only if you install proprietary
software, unless there's really no other option. If we want direct
microphone input, and the only way to do this right now is Flash, and
it's impossible to get it working in Gnash, and it's not practical for
Wikimedia to fund whatever work is needed to get Gnash to support the
features properly -- then there'd maybe be a case for supporting only
Flash here, until a free alternative is available. I doubt that all
this is the case, though.

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