From Wikifunctions

This is a dedicated page for the Frequently Asked Questions about Wikifunctions. Please, feel free to ask your own question in the talk page, if your question is not listed here!


What is this project about?

Wikifunctions is a new Wikimedia project that provides a catalog of all kinds of functions that anyone can call, write, maintain, and use. It also provides the underlying technology that will eventually enable the translation of language-independent articles from Abstract Wikipedia into the language of any Wikipedia. This will allow everyone to contribute and read articles in their preferred languages.

What is a function?

Functions are a form of knowledge that can answer questions, such as how many days have passed between two dates or the distance between two cities. More complicated functions can answer more complicated questions, such as the volume of a three dimensional shape, the distance between Mars and Venus on a certain date, or whether two species were alive at the same time.

We already use functions in many types of knowledge inquiries, such as asking a question to a search engine. The templates, such as Template:Convert and Template:Age on English Wikipedia, are also examples of functionalities that are already used in many Wikipedias, written in wikitext and Lua and manually copied to each wiki where it's wanted.

What is an implementation?

An implementation is a particular way to execute a function. An implementation is a recipe that lists the steps that are needed to run the function. It may be a piece of code in a programming language, or a combination of calls to other functions. A function may have many implementations, which should all be equivalent.

What is a test?

A test is a way to determine if a given function is doing the right thing. A function will typically have multiple testers, each specifying some input to the function and the conditions the output for the given input must fulfill.

For example, testers for a “title case” function might include: “abc” should become “Abc”; “war and peace” should become “War and Peace”; “война и мир” should become “Война и мир”; and “123” should remain “123”.

Which features are available now, which will be soon available, and which are further away?

  • At launch:
    • We have the ability to have functions that work with Strings and Booleans.
    • Wikifunctions will be fully internationalized from the beginning. It can be used in any language.
  • Ongoing development:
    • generic types and generic functions are not fully supported.
    • Adding types will, for now, be something that is limited to the development team. In the future, the community will be able to add more types themselves. There is a lot of work in the future to make types behave much smoother.
      • One particularly interesting type will be binary data, and particularly files.
    • We currently support two programming languages for implementations, JavaScript and Python. In the future, we want to support many more.
    • It currently is not possible to call other functions from implementations written in another programming language.
  • In the future:
    • It will be possible to call Wikifunctions functions from other Wikimedia projects, and integrate their results in the output of the page.
    • It will be possible to use data from Wikidata in functions.
    • It will be possible to call data sets from Commons Data namespace.

How will Wikifunctions be integrated into other projects?

Wikifunctions is the first step towards building Abstract Wikipedia. Our near-term focus will be on supporting the community and making improvements based on feedback. Concurrently we will begin the process of integrating it with Wikipedia and Wikidata, which will enable broader real-life applications and get us closer to the vision of Abstract Wikipedia.

Contributors will be able to call functions from Wikifunctions from within their wikis. For readers of the wiki, the result of the function call will be displayed. This can be used, for example, to calculate the age of a person, the population density based on population and area data from Wikidata, or to draw a graph and integrate it into a given article.

Another option to integrate Wikifunctions will be to integrate an interactive function call interface within their wiki. This could be used, for example, in a Wikipedia article to dynamically calculate the result of a physical equation based on reader-provided parameters, draw and interact with mathematical functions, etc.

What Wikifunctions is not?

Please, see Wikifunctions:What Wikifunctions is not for more information on that.

What license will the functions and derived content be under?

Per the discussion happened on Meta between November and December 2021, all contributions to Wikifunctions and the wider Abstract Wikipedia projects will be published under free licenses. In particular:

There are still some points that will need to be addressed in the future, such as the license of the generated content from the abstract content. We plan on drafting a more comprehensive document with the Legal department about how people can re-use code from Wikifunctions as painlessly as possible, while adhering to the license.


I'm new here. What is there for me to do and how can I help?

Welcome! We're very happy to have you here! There are many opportunities for contributing to Wikifunctions, from creating new functions to improving and translating documentation. If you are looking for ways to get involved, we recommend that maybe, depending on your level of comfort, you suggest a new function on a topic you are interested in. Or even create such a function. Provide some tests. Try your hand at an implementation. Help with translations. Read and improve our documentation. Help with organizing the community.

How do I create a new function, implementation, or test?

To see how to create a new function, implementation, or test, see Wikifunctions:Introduction.

To see in more detail how to create an implementation, see Wikifunctions:How to create implementations.

What should I edit first?

If you speak several languages, find functions that don't have labels and descriptions in your languages yet, and help adding these.

If you have some interest in a domain that could feature functions in Wikifunctions, but yet doesn't, or if you have more ideas for functions, go to the page for suggesting new functions, and present your ideas.

If you are a coder in JavaScript or Python, maybe you want to check for functions that don't yet have implementations in JavaScript or Python, and try to write them.

Where can I go for help?

Your first stop should be the Help portal where you'll find all the documentation related to using and editing Wikifunctions. If you're still stuck, post a message on Project chat, someone will answer your question.

How do we sort or categorize functions?

Tracked in Phabricator:
Task T285424

For now, the best way to sort or categorize functions is doing it by hand through pages in the Wikifunctions namespace. Another option would be through the talk page of the given function. We will monitor these efforts, and discuss with the community which changes to the system would be helpful for this task.