nLab meta Technical TODO list

This page is deprecated. See instead:


Here is a list of proposed improvements to the nLab and/or nForum software.


Add issues here if you don’t know where to put them.


  1. Update nForum announcements made within 30 minutes rather than post new announcements, to mirror the behaviour of the nLab. Last touched on here.

  2. Automatically convert links posted verbatim in the nForum to actual links rather than plain text.

  3. It seems I only get email notifications of new comments on nForum threads I’m following when I’m actively logged in to the nForum site. See here.

  4. There are problems with subscribing to discussions. See here.


  1. Add further graphs to dashboard, e.g. concerning CPU, memory usage, disk space on server, perhaps response times, etc. Dashboard thread is here.

  2. Move towards a static frontend, which will make page rendering faster. Some experiments with this were carried out here. This was before the new page renderer was introduced, which speeds thing up considerably, but there is still room for the rendering to be faster; this is especially the case for the first time a page is viewed after a change has been made.

  3. Dockerise the nLab so that it can easily be deployed or run locally.

  4. Set up a ‘staging’ environment against which tests can be run, covering all basic functionality, including small things like change of page name. Last mentioned here.

  5. Either upgrade Rails to an up to date version, or replace it with use of a different language (the latter is not as huge a step as it might appear once itex2MML is no longer in use).

  6. Remove use of itex2MML for tex parsing, replacing it either with a home-grown parser or MathJax, or a combination of the two.


  1. Fix bugs in the nLab’s display of the diff in mathematics the revision history. (See more or less any diff where mathematics is involved).

  2. The nForum has a weird bug whereby it sometimes refuses to post a comment, saying “Some problems were encountered; There was a problem authenticating your post information.” Generally just clicking the “post” button again makes it work, but this is a little annoying (and may be more offputting for new users who aren’t familiar with it). Discussed here.

  3. If https or http is omitted from a link in Markdown syntax, it seems that the link is interpreted as being to an nLab page. See here.

  4. As discussed here, after a file upload, one needs to make another edit (say a trivial one) to make the link actually appear; the latter step should not be necessary.

  5. Possibly related to the previous item: “recently … it takes either a few edits or a few refreshes before (earlier) edits ‘take’” (discussed here).


  1. Make tool for handling references in the nLab. Last discussed here.

  2. Pressing tab in the edit box will insert either 2 or 4 spaces (2 seems more sensible given the space). This will allow formatting of the wiki code to be made easier. Currently it does the default behaviour of selecting the next item on the webpage. Discussed here

  3. When announcing an anonymous edit at the nForum, maybe the user’s IP address should be included, to make it easy to see at a glance that two such edits are probably the same person.

  4. Add a “preview page” feature which renders the page below the editor. Kind of like on MathOverflow. However it doesn’t have to be live, a button for rendering would do. This would be nice for seeing how the page is looking without having to save.

LaTeX, fonts, typesetting, visual nonsense

  1. Introduce further LaTeX syntax, such as macros (at least simple ones). See here. Since this discussion, theorem environments have been introduced, see here.

  2. Normalize unicode characters. Last discussed here.

  3. Cross wiki links should be the colour that they are linking to. I.e. a link to the nlab from the HoTT wiki should be green not red.

  4. Add the abitity for wikis to control their own fonts. Latex and otherwise. For example they HoTT wiki looks slightly awful because the literature is pretty homogenous font wise yet things like mathcal on the wiki look horrible. (Last part just an opinion - Ali).

  5. favicons for different nlab sites should change colour too, see here. HoTT Wiki looks strange with green favicons.

  6. Address indentation and size issues with list items in quote environments. See here.

Article mechanics

  1. Save and display nLab page title changes in the revision history. See here.

  2. Suppress “redirected from” messages for singular/plural and other purely orthographic redirects. Last discussed here

  3. Have anchor label duplication errors be read out from the logs and announced as error messages – similar to how duplicate redirects are already being reported as error messages. Last discussed here.

  4. Handle unicode apostrophe in page name (use simple apostrophe instead, and add redirect for the unicode one; maybe do this even when simple one is used). Discussed here. Also for hyphens, see here.

  5. Try to detect when a left backtick is used erroneously. Cropped up here.

  6. Allow for a different ‘display name’ to be shown instead of the username in the nForum. Discussed here.

  1. If a search is for a term that has a redirect, that redirect should be noted in the search results (e.g. something like “Your search term ‘X’ has a wiki redirect to the page ‘Y’”). Last discussed here.

  2. If a search term matches a page name exactly, list that in a separate section prior to the rest of the matches. For example, should result in the ‘monad’ page listed first as an exact match, only then followed by other pages containing ‘monad’ in their name.


  1. Add the ability to view pages that do not belong to any category in the all pages page. In general add filters to the “all pages” page. Especially when looking for articles that aren’t categorised as “people” etc.

  2. Add a better way of viewing all pages and organising them. It would be nice if they could be categorised without editing their contents. (Some dispute about this; one can of course just create wiki pages that link to other pages in an organized way.) (This will help with finding pages that are lost and don’t have a page linking to them).

  3. The “category: XXX” label at the bottom of a page should probably not be displayed when the page is included into another page. For instance, this is relevant to pages with category:svg.

Wanted features

  1. Add a “linked from” page as discussed here.

  2. Add the “Discuss this page” feature to every lab, for example this page should be able to link to the forum appropriately

  3. “Discuss this page” only works on pages which have a discussion open. For pages that don’t it should start a new nforum thread. For now it simply redirects to nforum (which is pretty useless).

Clean up

  1. Remove unused parts of the nForum, e.g. the blog functionality. Discussed here.

  2. A better way to delete pages (e.g. spam). Discussed here.

Last revised on June 6, 2022 at 14:28:53. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.