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Intro[edit | edit source]

These screenshots of sites running MediaWiki illustrate the breadth of usage in the software world, and also some compelling theming examples.

Audio of my presentation is at

What's a Wiki?[edit | edit source]

Wiki is the Hawaiian word for quick, and Ward Cunningham - the inventor of the wiki - named his project after the wiki wiki shuttle. A backcronym that is probably equally apropos is WIKI stands for "What I Know Is..." MediaWiki is the free software (GPL) that runs Wikipedia under the auspices of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Meet the speaker[edit | edit source]

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

I'm Greg Rundlett [1] [2] [3], a free software advocate who lives in Newburyport, MA with my wife and two sons.

Using it - Why?[edit | edit source]

Wikis are immensely popular and come in many flavors. It was late 2006 to early 2007 when 'wiki' reached it's zenith as a buzzword in the news.[1] But wikis have not faded into the sunset like last years fashion. I'll point out a few reasons why you should choose MediaWiki as your wiki platform.

It's the most popular wiki software in the world; both in terms of hosting the largest single wiki WikiPedia as well as deployments by all sort of individuals, groups and corporations. In practical terms that means people you hire will know MediaWiki. The growth curve of MediaWiki is exponential. The quality of the software is excellent. Does your wiki have conferences?

WikiPedia now has over ten million articles across 250 languages!

Does your wiki have a foundation to keep it going?

Does your wiki have a multimedia repository which hosts over 3,400,000 multimedia files? Wikimedia Commons does.

Syntax[edit | edit source]

I do want to point out that MediaWiki does not use CamelCase words in order to make a link. This means a lot to all the Irish people of the world, and also the marketers who seem pretty convinced of the coolness of McWords like ThinkPad, etc.

MediaWiki syntax is easy to learn, and easy to use. In fact, you might already be using it without even knowing it.

  • this
  • is
  • a list


  1. Family
  2. Community
  3. Work
  4. Country

is an ordered list. links are automatic and by using a simple bracket notation, you can make them prettier and more meaningful e.g.

[ See the kids in their Halloween costumes]


See the kids in their Halloween costumes

Editor Options[edit | edit source]

WYSIWYG editor
Weird Yucky Sucky Interference With Your Goodness
  1. WikEd is a full wysiwyg editor with special features for MediaWiki. You can install it for yourself in a single browser as a user script or you can install it into your MediaWiki installation.

    wikEd is enabled sitewide on this wiki. Turn it on in your Preferences settings

  2. FCK Editor is a full wysiwyg editor that includes page link searching as you type
  3. Java project called Textile-J is now an Eclipse plugin called the "Mylyn WikiText component" that does wiki markup
  4. Kaltura does a collaborative video editing solution

WikEd[edit | edit source]

  • Wikicode syntax highlighting
  • Pasting, import, and conversion of formatted text, e.g. from Microsoft-Word and web pages
  • Regular expression search and replace
  • Edit preview and show changes on the same page without reloading
  • Fullscreen editing mode
  • Single-click fixing of common mistakes
  • History for summary, search, and replace fields
  • Jump to selected heading
  • Type-ahead find
  • Support for many languages
  • Improved diff display
  • Follow links and wiki-links (ctrl-click)
  • Runs automatically on every MediaWiki installation when installed as a local Greasemonkey user script

For more details, see the WikEd homepage

FCK Editor[edit | edit source]

In 2007 it was announced that a WYSIWYG editor would be built for MediaWiki. Wikia (Jimmy Wales' for-profit venture) started work on it. It still isn't ready for prime time. Note that I had to patch a minor bug to get it to work and even then, it did funny things with my article (wanted to collapse a line-break between template tag and next line resulting in a space being inserted prior to the next line, resulting in preformatted text rendering for that line.

OpenOffice[edit | edit source]

OpenOffice (since v. 2.3) has had a built-in "Export to MediaWiki" menu option. So, you can write an article in OpenOffice Writer (or StarOffice Writer) and export the file to wiki markup. This could be useful particularly if you want to convert large collections of Word documents. One drawback to "export" is that you would still have to copy and paste that output into the wiki. is the extra hook that allows you to save your page in the wiki (essentially registering your user data in the instance of OpenOffice

Other points about using MediaWiki

Features[edit | edit source]

  1. Recent Changes
  2. Watchlist
  3. Preferences
  4. Automatic TOC
  5. Section editing
  6. Magic words
  7. Search - OpenSearch
  8. Interwiki links
  9. Import/Export (TODO talk about exporting to text)
  10. Special pages
    1. [[Special:ListGroupRights]]
  11. Image Galleries like Special:NewImages
  12. SVG support
  13. Protection (lock a page) Not to be confused with 'versions' that helps with things like versioned documentation for software products.
  14. Microformats Wikipedia implements microformats easily because through the power of templates, an author can fill out a template and not even know that he is using microformats in the final product. Firefox, through the tails extension, can export microformats via bluetooth, so that an employee directory on your intranet can talk to your mobile phone. @TODO: write up a contact template, a contact page and test the export

Creating Structure[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikifarm
  2. Namespaces or go directly to Special:PrefixIndex
    1. Main
      What is sounds like, there is no need to specify this namespace when making links
    2. Image
      Used for all file uploads, whether image, video, sound, doc or whatever. Each upload creates it's own article within this namespace
    3. Project
      Used as a "About Us" namespace -- not used for the main content of your wiki, but normally reserved for pages about the project which created the wiki. If you need to do a substantial edit to a template and want to try it out, one method of doing that would be to copy the article into the project namespace, use the new template, and your article wouldn't be normally included in search results.
    4. Help
      What it sounds like, this namespace is unfortunately empty with a new installation. See MediaWiki/Help
    5. Template
    6. Category
    7. Special
    8. MediaWiki
  1. Subpages
  2. Templates "transclusion"
    1. <noinclude> </noinclude> <includeonly></includeonly>
      Template:Messagebox example.
    2. arguments
    3. Templates used on this page
    4. copying from MediaWiki Special:ExpandTemplates
  3. Categories
  4. Navigation (talk about in Administration)

Administering it[edit | edit source]

The LocalSettings.php file is the main point of configuration for the wiki administrator. It overrides all the defaults set in includes/DefaultSettings.php

You can remove the database configuration lines into it's own file and then include that file from LocalSettings so that you now can commit LocalSettings to your version control repository without revealing the db credentials.

## Database settings
## moved to a separate file so that we can track changes to the general config in version control, without checking in our db credentials
require_once( "$IP/DatabaseSettings.php" );

One good practice is to have some sort of text version or other backup of your wiki in case the machine, webserver, or database that the system depends on is down. As an administrator, you can use the dumpBackup.php script found in the maintenance directory of you MediaWiki installation. Something like the following in a system cron would be good:

/usr/bin/php /var/www/phase3/maintenance/dumpBackup.php --current --output=file:/var/backups/`date +%F`-wiki.text.export.txt

As a user, one tool that can come in handy is Special:Wiki2XML [2]

Another useful tool to the Administrator is the bulk image importer. To import all the screenshots that I used at the start of this presentation, I did the following:

php importImages.php --user=Freephile --comment='Set of screenshots of sites using MediaWiki ' ~/Desktop/mediawiki/snaps/

Note how using a Category tag in the comment will automatically place the images in the Category specified.

Developing it[edit | edit source]

  1. Theming
  2. Extensions
  3. Conversion of existing wikis and documents Format conversion
  4. APIs are very useful to developers. MediaWiki Developers can use the Application Programming Interface for MediaWiki which gets exposed at /api.php, as well as the framework which helps to automate manipulation of the wiki.
  5. Database

Theming[edit | edit source]

The quickest thing you do is change the menu and the logo see MediaWiki/Theming

Extensions[edit | edit source]

  1. The Manual
  2. An incomplete list of extensions

So many examples, which ones to highlight?

  1. Case Western University's Google Map Extension

Any wiki site you visit, you can see the installed extensions by viewing the Special:Version page

See more at MediaWiki/Extensions

Timelines[edit | edit source]


MIT's SIMILE project Timeline is integrated into Semantic MediaWiki

Database[edit | edit source]

The MediaWiki software uses a MySQL database backend to store content and other data. The MediaWiki/Sql article offers a couple helpful queries; whereas mw:Manual:Database_access covers this area more completely including info on API functions and wrappers.

Getting it, Installing it[edit | edit source]

MediaWiki is developed using a Continuous Integration approach meaning that their trunk is tested and running in production

Version Release date End-of-life
1.14.x Not released
1.13.x August 14, 2008 August 2009
1.12.x March 20, 2008 March 2009
1.11.x September 10, 2007 September 2008

use svn to get it, and that way updating your installation is as simple as svn up

In Production[edit | edit source]

Creating Slideshows[edit | edit source]



will create a nice slideshow

<slide>pixel</slide> from

Integration with Software Development[edit | edit source]

  1. CodeReview e.g.
  2. ExtensionDistributor (info) is a tool that automatically packages code from subversion and sends the user a tarball. There is a lot of interesting information at wikitech that describes how the WikiMedia Foundation is operated technically

Setup for an intranet and/or KB[edit | edit source]

  • Namespaces
  • Wiki farm ala Drupal multisite

Publishing[edit | edit source]

Wiki is quick markup. Feed recent changes into publishing system that moves those out into front-end -- even static. In this sense, you can have editors feeding content into your website. We did this at Raging Bull - a company that I worked at back in 1999 (already several years after Ward Cunningham first developed the wiki concept).

Another example that is clearly "publishing"-centric is the way that wikis are used to put books online:

One Hack[edit | edit source]

Uselang (show image) MediaWiki_SpecialUpload_interface_labelled.png

Resources[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]