Proposal:Text or Syntax driven Charts, Diagrams, Graphs and more

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Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

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  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation

If not English, in what language is this proposal submitted?:


Wikipedia is made out of Text, a simple basic common denominator: anyone can edit it from anywhere. It is also common sense, that a picture says more than a thousand words. Latex and various existing Visualisation Tools and the existing Graph Plugin already do this to some extend. The output could be rendered to an image, SVG, gif, etc. However, the input is still text, that anyone, possibly even from an WYSIWYG Editor, can work with. No piece of special local software needed.


How to display "social processes", stakeholder communication/links/dependencies or any kind of process, who's outcome is debatable, who's structure is complex but still touches many peoples lives in many ways? (See more under the motivation section). I think there are many things we debate over in every day live, some of this already takes place in wikipedia, but could do with some community editable, syntax driven visualisation to become more appealing. Other topics could benefit greatly of becoming part of wikipedia, as a resource of positions, point of views and many more visualisations.

As far as the plugin is concerned, things needed to be done would be:

  • Improve the existing Graph-Plugin
  • or get rid of perl dependencies and implement the Features in php to reduce dependencies
  • possibly generate the image once, serve it many times.
  • think about the syntax. It should be easy to understand, so even visually impaired, that cannot see the images, can still figure things out, be reading the text.
  • Any visualization, be it a chart, flowchart, diagram, or anything else, can possibly still be edited by a WYSIWYG-Editor
  • should wikipedia ever be viewable by something other, more interactive that a browser, i.e. "3D-Wiki.Viewer", the original syntax could be used to derive various types of output, depending on the viewers system. Whereas a solid image, will always stay that way, you already have to upload various scaled versions to accommodate for different sizes.
  • Visualisations could provide a excellent starting point to a set of articles.


Like the other "graph" proposals mention (see References), most people scan webpages and get hooked by images. Also, i.e. images like flowcharts are good at displaying dependencies, links, references, etc of complicated matters in a very condensed way, while still giving a good overview. However, by visualising i.e. various stakeholders and their crosslinks in a kind of chart of bubbles with lines as links, normal people will have the benefit of immediately get the overview, but also a visually impaired person could still look into the text, that was needed to derive that chart from. (i.e. stakeholder-A -> stakeholder-B) Charts could visualise points of view around a subject or "social processes": Person a relates to Person b. Or Funding of E-Cars leads to more Manufacturing of E-cars which leads to less fuel consumption, but also leads to more Electricity/Power consumption, which not necessarily leads to less CO2 exhaustion, depending on which types of power consumption this leads to. You quickly see that with our fast growing technology driven and dependent society, tweaking one thing on one end not necessarily leads to goals that are wanted by all possibly including the ones tweaking in the first place. So something leads to something on a complex scale. In my view, complex matters with many stakeholders, outcomes, links and dependencies are best debugged by a community process like wikipedia already possesses. You'll find my so called social processes almost everywhere in life, so this plugin might as well lead to an entirely new domain of wikipedia articles. As i grasped from the blender-integration proposal, the display might not always be the browser. So this should improve visualization of existing articles quite a bit and open doors to far more, which makes wikipedia much more popular and enjoyable, while still be founded on the roots of its culture, the community debugging/editing of text.

I hope, i was able to make things clear and explain matters. If questions remain, please contact "dirk under the domain", preferably be mail.

Key Questions

  • Can it be done?

Potential Costs

  • Developer time to implement the features
  • Admin time, to install plugins
  • CPU time, when generating the Images first time, then it could be served with a caching infrastructure


Similar directions:

An existing plugin:

I could not find the link to the "manyeyes" visualisation examples that IBM once put online, to display numbers in unique ways. I think there is still much room left for innovation in the display of processes, interactions, correlations, links, etc, by still using types of diagrams that were once shown by IBM under this link.

Community Discussion

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