22 June 2008

Click to edit

Last week I came across the Universal edit button, a great new idea to make wikis easier to use. The idea is simple. The wiki developer adds some metadata to the page which tells the browser what the link to edit the page is. Your browser display a button which lets you edit the page when this information is present.

On the UEB homepage, you can see a screenshot which shows it in action.

The HTML you need to put in your wiki software is a <link> tag in the header, like this:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/wiki" title="Edit this page!" href="wiki?edit=WelcomeVisitors"/>

To me, a tag like this doesn’t really make sense. It says to me, ‘there’s a page with an alternate representation of this page which has an HTTP content-type of application/wiki’.

That’s not totally correct. What the edit page is in most wikis is an HTML page which allows you to edit the current page. It’s not really an alternate representation, just as you wouldn’t say that the source code editor is an alternate representation of a running application.

To help out with the effort, I made the suggestion that a link more like the one below would make more sense. It would fit better with the existing uses of the ‘rel’ attribute like rel="next" and rel="previous", and with the existing uses of the ‘type’ attribute like type="text/css" and type="application/atom".

<link rel="edit" type="text/html" title="Edit this page" href="wiki?edit=WelcomeVisitors"/>

Hopefully this ship hasn’t already sailed, and we can find a way to integrate this into the existing infrastructure. I think it will find much greater success amongst the many HTML authors who like their markup to have some semblance of consistency.