Posts Tagged ‘MediaWiki’

Wikipedia available in print via PediaPress

Book vendorOver a year ago, I found out about Wikitravel Press from Jani Patokallio, at BarCampKL 2009. I was pretty excited since it was based on the open content Wikitravel, it was printed on demand, and it was updated on a regular basis. Imagine getting accurate travel guides when you were going somewhere (as opposed to a dated Lonely Planet guidebook)?

When I was young, I used to pore through a set of encyclopaedias from Grolier, that my late grandfather had purchased sometime in the ’60’s. These were wrongly disposed off, during a move, and the last time I encountered a traditional encyclopaedia, was a few months ago, albeit a digital version. For me, Wikipedia won.

Naturally, I’m excited to see that you can now get Wikipedia entries, printed in book-form now. PediaPress now offers custom books to all users. Check out the book creator on Wikipedia.

It got me thinking. Would we eventually see textbooks being printed out from Wikipedia? I took a look at some of the pre-prepared books, and found one for College Mathematics: Algebra. Its over 400 pages of dense mathematical content; about the typical size of a math textbook. Coursework preparation will be more open, and quality will be crowd-sourced.

More interesting for me, and other developers using MediaWiki? The tools for creating your own press are available at the PediaPress Open Source Repository. Therein lies a Python library for parsing the MediaWiki articles (mwlib), another library for writing the PDF documents from MediaWiki articles (mwlib.rl), and a bunch of extensions to collect MediaWiki articles and output them to PDF, XML, or even OpenDocument format (ODF).

What does that mean? If you’re using MediaWiki to create documentation, you can quite likely create a printed manual pretty darn easily. No mucking around with writing documentation in DocBook XML… you can use the friendly MediaWiki markup and syntax.

The fracas

Dear Nasrul,

I’ve watched the vitriol on osdcmy-list, I’ve seen the attacks on Facebook, and on Twitter and I’ve read all the comments on the Open Malaysia blog, and I think its time I chime in.

Firstly, I need to ask: do you know much about open source? I would highly recommend you read The Open Source Definition.

Next, you’re talking about Facebook, which is a closed platform, which was launched at an open source conference. Why?

But more interestingly, you won RM2,000 for “porting” MediaWiki to run on the Windows, IIS, MSSQL Server, and PHP. For what it is worth, MediaWiki already runs on Windows, and works fine with IIS. So it seems that your largest task, was to port the SQL, to run not on two very capable open source databases, but to run on Microsoft SQL Server (a closed source database).

I read Final Day: MediaWiki – What I learn so far from LAMP2WIN and My Journey with glee.

So I decided to poke a little. You haven’t submitted any code upstream to MediaWiki. But what’s worse is, have you seen Bug#9767? The title of the bug is “Microsoft SQL Server/MSSQL support (tracking)”. It doesn’t take a genius to tell you what the patches in that bug do.

Yes, DJ Bauch added support to MSSQL, via ADODB (work started in 2007, and its been ready since April 30 2009). Something you won money for. But worse? “.. winners walked away with RM2,000 in cash, a MSC Malaysia Participation Certificate. They will also enjoy facilitated access to MSC Intensive Technoprenuer Programme and the eventual RM150,000 pre-seed fund.” (via the Malay Mail).

Now you’re able to access a lot more money, for work that you, yourself, did not do.

I think you should get off your high horse, understand a little more Netiquette, and behave. After all, Google will forever remember what you’ve said, and all the personal attacks against active participants in the open source community, which I’m certain can do you no favours.

Kind Regards,