Discussion:
modernizing mediawiki
(too old to reply)
Chris Lewis
2010-03-03 04:30:20 UTC
Permalink
I hope I am emailing this to the right group. My concern was about mediawiki and it's limitations, as well as it's outdated methods. As someone wo runs a wiki, I've gone through a lot of frustrations.

If Wordpress is like Windows 7, then Mediawiki is Windows 2000. Very outdated GUI, outdated ways of doing things,for example using ftp to edit the settings of the wiki instead of having a direct interface like Wordpress. Mediawiki makes millions more than Wordpress does too, why can't the money be put into making a modern product instead of in pockets of the people who run it? I know Wordpress and Mediawiki serve two different purposes, but that's not the point. The point is, one is modern and user friendly (Wordpress), and the other (Mediawiki) is not. Other complaints:
-Default skins are boring
-Very limited in being able to make the wiki look nice like you could with a normal webpage.
-A major pain to update! Wordpress upgrades are so simple.
-Better customization so people can get a wiki the way they want. It should be more like the wikis on wikia, except without me having to learn css and php to make those types of customizations. Give me some option, some places to put widgets. Not every wiki is going to be as formal as the ones on wikimedia sites. And don't the people at Wikimedia commons get tired of always having to make changes so it actually suits their site? If they had some of the options from the get go, i'm sure they'd appreciate it too.
-I don't want to go to my ftp to download my local settings file, add a few lines then reupload it. This is caveman-like behavior for the modern internet.
-Being able to manage extensions like wordpress does.

In short, it's time to spend some money from those millions of dollars from donations to make this software more modern. Being stubborn in modernizing it will only make this software less relevant in the future if other wiki software companies are willing to do things the people at Wikimedia aren't.

Thank you
Ryan Lane
2010-03-03 04:57:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Lewis
I hope I am emailing this to the right group. My concern was about mediawiki and it's limitations, as well as it's outdated methods. As someone wo runs a wiki, I've gone through a lot of frustrations.
This is likely the right list.
Post by Chris Lewis
-Default skins are boring
Are you aware of the Wikipedia usability initiative? Have you seen the
new skin they are creating (Vector), or the awesome new features they
are adding? If not, please see the usability wiki:

http://usability.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

The skin system is also likely to have a major update in a very future
version of MediaWiki. Look through this list's archives, the
discussion was fairly recent.
Post by Chris Lewis
-Very limited in being able to make the wiki look nice like you could with a normal webpage.
Minus making new skins (which is fairly difficuly), I think this is a
matter of opinion and skill.
Post by Chris Lewis
-A major pain to update! Wordpress upgrades are so simple.
I don't really find updates to be terribly difficult. You mostly just
check out (or download) the newest version, and run update.php. This
is probably more difficult without shell access.

I'd like to mention that from a security perspective, I like the fact
that by default MediaWiki does not allow Wordpress style upgrades and
code modifications. MediaWiki exploits may lead to vandalism, but
Wordpress exploits generally lead to shell or root access, and
compromise of all of your other applications.
Post by Chris Lewis
-Better customization so people can get a wiki the way they want. It should be more like the wikis on wikia, except without me having to learn css and php to make those types of customizations. Give me some option, some places to put widgets. Not every wiki is going to be as formal as the ones on wikimedia sites. And don't the people at Wikimedia commons get tired of always having to make changes so it actually suits their site? If they had some of the options from the get go, i'm sure they'd appreciate it too.
-I don't want to go to my ftp to download my local settings file, add a few lines then reupload it. This is caveman-like behavior for the modern internet.
Get a host that supports SSH. Use VI, Emacs, nano, pico, etc.
Post by Chris Lewis
-Being able to manage extensions like wordpress does.
It looks like someone may try to tackle this as a summer of code project:

http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/User:Jeroen_De_Dauw/GSoC2010
Post by Chris Lewis
In short, it's time to spend some money from those millions of dollars from donations to make this software more modern. Being stubborn in modernizing it will only make this software less relevant in the future if other wiki software companies are willing to do things the people at Wikimedia aren't.
MediaWiki is written primarily for use for Wikimedia foundation sites.
They generously make the software usable for third party sites, but
they have no obligation to do so. If the users of Wikimedia foundation
sites are happy with the software, and end-users are happy with the
Wikimedia foundation sites (and I'd say thats a resounding yes), then
the millions going to the Wikimedia foundation are well spent.

You are more than welcome to submit patches, and/or help develop the
features you want. I maintain a number of extensions, and have worked
with the MediaWiki code base for a number of years. I've found the
Wikimedia foundation, and the core developers to be very welcoming of
improvements to the software.

Respectfully,

Ryan Lane
Marco Schuster
2010-03-03 06:36:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ryan Lane
I don't really find updates to be terribly difficult. You mostly just
check out (or download) the newest version, and run update.php. This
is probably more difficult without shell access.
With Wordpress upgrades it's even easier: two clicks and you're done
(okay, except if you run multi-user WP setups). Same for extension
updates. It even *notifies* you for updates, especially for
security-critical - if you don't follow the -announce lists and
subsequently never update, your wiki can and will be open to any
security issue coming up.
Post by Ryan Lane
Post by Chris Lewis
-I don't want to go to my ftp to download my local settings file, add a few lines then reupload it. This is caveman-like behavior for the modern internet.
Get a host that supports SSH. Use VI, Emacs, nano, pico, etc.
HAHAHA, sorry but this way of thinking is stone-age. Who are we to
require our users to get more expensive hosting AND knowledge of
VI/Emacs (a newbie most likely won't have HEARD of ssh, vi and emacs!)
just for being able to modify the core settings of a wiki without
having the FTP extra work? Come on, it's so easy to make a web-based
settings editor. Mighta even be lots easier to just move all settings
stuff except MySQL data into the DB.

Marco
--
VMSoft GbR
Nabburger Str. 15
81737 München
Geschäftsführer: Marco Schuster, Volker Hemmert
http://vmsoft-gbr.de
Q
2010-03-03 06:43:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by Marco Schuster
With Wordpress upgrades it's even easier: two clicks and you're done
(okay, except if you run multi-user WP setups). Same for extension
updates. It even *notifies* you for updates, especially for
security-critical - if you don't follow the -announce lists and
subsequently never update, your wiki can and will be open to any
security issue coming up.
I think that's more of a personal choice. Some users (like you) might
like their software downloading random data and writing it to your disks
and phoning home unknown data whenever it feels like, when others don't
think software should do that.
Tim Landscheidt
2010-03-03 11:15:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Marco Schuster
[...]
Post by Ryan Lane
Post by Chris Lewis
-I don't want to go to my ftp to download my local settings file, add a few lines then reupload it. This is caveman-like behavior for the modern internet.
Get a host that supports SSH. Use VI, Emacs, nano, pico, etc.
HAHAHA, sorry but this way of thinking is stone-age. Who are we to
require our users to get more expensive hosting AND knowledge of
VI/Emacs (a newbie most likely won't have HEARD of ssh, vi and emacs!)
just for being able to modify the core settings of a wiki without
having the FTP extra work? Come on, it's so easy to make a web-based
settings editor. Mighta even be lots easier to just move all settings
stuff except MySQL data into the DB.
If it's so easy,
<URI:http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Configuration_database>
awaits your patches :-).

Tim
fl
2010-03-03 07:31:55 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 3 Mar 2010 12:57 pm, Ryan Lane wrote:
[snip]
Post by Ryan Lane
MediaWiki is written primarily for use for Wikimedia foundation sites.
They generously make the software usable for third party sites, but
they have no obligation to do so.
[snip]

I would disagree. The Wikimedia software has been released under an open
source license: While the WMF certainly has no obligation to improve the
software, they most definately have an obligation to release the source
code to third-parties.

--
fl
Platonides
2010-03-03 14:31:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by fl
I would disagree. The Wikimedia software has been released under an open
source license: While the WMF certainly has no obligation to improve the
software, they most definately have an obligation to release the source
code to third-parties.
--
fl
Wrong. They do it, and it's consistent with their mission, but they have
no obligation to do that. They could even have MediaWiki be closed
source software.
fl
2010-03-03 22:34:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Platonides
Post by fl
I would disagree. The Wikimedia software has been released under an open
source license: While the WMF certainly has no obligation to improve the
software, they most definately have an obligation to release the source
code to third-parties.
Wrong. They do it, and it's consistent with their mission, but they have
no obligation to do that. They could even have MediaWiki be closed
source software.
No, they can't. As far as I am aware, MediaWiki is released under the
GNU General Public License[1], which stipulates, among other things, the
requirement to release a program's source code to the public and to
release any derived changes under the same license[2].

If the WMF were to try and convert MediaWiki to a closed source project,
they would be liable to legal actions against them.

[1] http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Special:Version
[2] http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0.html

--
fl
Sergey Chernyshev
2010-03-03 23:13:01 UTC
Permalink
I'd like to chime into the discussion and point out that there is a huge
community around extensions and features that are not used by Wikimedia
foundation - Semantic MediaWiki & co and OpenID to name a few.

These extensions are maintained by 3rd party developers and many of them,
including myself don't have Wikimedia interests as their primary goal.

I run quite a few wikis based on MediaWiki and even though I personally
don't need "Wordpress" easiness and comfortable with creating build
environments using SVN externals and stuff like that, I'm always working
toward general ease of use and Widgets extension I wrote, OpenID picker
contributions as well as some SMW changes I made were always targeted at
users outside of Wikimedia.

So I'd like Wikimedia crowd to acknowledge outside community and their
needs. Don't get me wrong - you guys built a great product and some aspects
of it like internationalization wiki or extensibility or APIs are quite
unique, but Open Source requires open mind with things.

At the same time, I'd like to say that Domas and others are exactly right
about different interests with different parties - if you need something, go
ahead and build it. I spent quite a lot of time coding away things that were
needed for my business and for my personal projects and it's fair. Nobody in
Open Source world is obligated to code for you! Not in Wordpress world
either - they, for that matter had quite lousy software for quite a while
until they did more work on fixing it and it only happened because they have
a commercial enterprise that has different interests then Wikimedia
foundation.

All that being said, I think there is a great opportunity for MW to get even
larger piece of corporate knowledge management market and if you or somebody
else wants to go there and make your money on it, go ahead - companies like
Yaron's WikiWorks, for example will be happy to work with you on it - they
live and breath Mediawikis. Just don't expect that somebody will do work for
you for free only because Wikimedia foundation is non-for-profit and their
projects don't charge money. We all need to eat and software developers are
expansive, especially good ones, especially those who can do both complex
and user friendly software. Don't insult people by saying that they didn't
make something you need, they already spend time that they could've spent on
their families.

Thank you,

Sergey


--
Sergey Chernyshev
http://www.sergeychernyshev.com/
Post by fl
Post by Platonides
Post by fl
I would disagree. The Wikimedia software has been released under an open
source license: While the WMF certainly has no obligation to improve the
software, they most definately have an obligation to release the source
code to third-parties.
Wrong. They do it, and it's consistent with their mission, but they have
no obligation to do that. They could even have MediaWiki be closed
source software.
No, they can't. As far as I am aware, MediaWiki is released under the
GNU General Public License[1], which stipulates, among other things, the
requirement to release a program's source code to the public and to
release any derived changes under the same license[2].
If the WMF were to try and convert MediaWiki to a closed source project,
they would be liable to legal actions against them.
[1] http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Special:Version
[2] http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0.html
--
fl
_______________________________________________
Wikitech-l mailing list
https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
Platonides
2010-03-03 23:15:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by fl
No, they can't. As far as I am aware, MediaWiki is released under the
GNU General Public License[1], which stipulates, among other things, the
requirement to release a program's source code to the public and to
release any derived changes under the same license[2].
If the WMF were to try and convert MediaWiki to a closed source project,
they would be liable to legal actions against them.
That requirement is only valid if they distribute the changed version
(and only for people which get that version). They could improve
mediawiki and keep the changes to themselves.

There are many reasons that would be a really bad idea. But from a
strictly legal POV, they can do it.

For a license which requires releasing the code to people browsing the
site, see the Affero GPL.
Tisza Gergő
2010-03-03 13:34:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ryan Lane
I'd like to mention that from a security perspective, I like the fact
that by default MediaWiki does not allow Wordpress style upgrades and
code modifications. MediaWiki exploits may lead to vandalism, but
Wordpress exploits generally lead to shell or root access, and
compromise of all of your other applications.
While this is certainly true for updates and PHP-enabled skin files, a web-based
configuration panel is actually much more secure than editing a PHP-based
settings file through FTP. There is a multitude of malware out there which can
steal FTP passwords by infecting your computer, or your router, or any nearby
computer if you use unsecured wifi access. (Sure, you could use SFTP or
something equivalent, but how many people actually do? And how many webhosts
provide it?) The most common stuff such as allowing uploads or enabling
extensions should be accessible through a GUI for both usability and security
reasons.
George Herbert
2010-03-03 04:59:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Lewis
I hope I am emailing this to the right group. My concern was about mediawiki and it's limitations, as well as it's outdated methods. As someone wo runs a wiki, I've gone through a lot of frustrations.
-Default skins are boring
-Very limited in being able to make the wiki look nice like you could with a normal webpage.
-A major pain to update! Wordpress upgrades are so simple.
-Better customization so people can get a wiki the way they want. It should be more like the wikis on wikia, except without me having to learn css and php to make those types of customizations. Give me some option, some places to put widgets. Not every wiki is going to be as formal as the ones on wikimedia sites. And don't the people at Wikimedia commons get tired of always having to make changes so it actually suits their site? If they had some of the options from the get go, i'm sure they'd appreciate it too.
-I don't want to go to my ftp to download my local settings file, add a few lines then reupload it. This is caveman-like behavior for the modern internet.
-Being able to manage extensions like wordpress does.
In short, it's time to spend some money from those millions of dollars from donations to make this software more modern. Being stubborn in modernizing it will only make this software less relevant in the future if other wiki software companies are willing to do things the people at Wikimedia aren't.
Thank you
This is not a wrong list for this, though there's no perfect one.

All of this in my humble opinion - and please keep in mind that I'm
not a core developer of the MW code, though I do PHP and other
programming and web apps design on and off...

There have been for several years at least on and off extensive
discussions about the software platform, a next-generation MediaWiki
concept, etc. In general, such discussions have ended when backwards
compatibility problems poke up.

The existing software set is extremely complicated and featureful -
and, regrettably, most of that complexity and features set is in
active use within the Wikipedia and related sites environments.

A clean-sheet design which could throw out compatibility would
undoubtedly be easier and cleaner and could be done with reasonable
chances of project success. However, converting Wikipedia and related
sites to a non-backwards-compatible environment seems ruinously
impractical at the moment.

The reality of the situation is that MediaWiki isn't the Wikimedia
Foundation's product; the information content in Wikipedia and the
other projects is the WMF's product, and the MediaWiki software is a
spinoff. To the degree that MediaWiki is useful to people, that's
great. To the degree that changes to the software would negatively
affect the information in Wikipedia and other projects, though, the
software is very much a secondary concern. In this sense, the
software is very user driven, but it's not driven by the median
installation (many thousands of small MW wikis out there), but by the
one huge one (Wikipedia and related projects). Donations to the
Foundation are nearly entirely focused on the information content and
delivery - with some acknowledgement that software development has to
happen to support that - but not donations intended to improve the
software itself.


Adding in a backwards compatibility mode to a new clean-sheet project
seems to more or less require grafting a full MediaWiki installation
on the side as a plugin module, as currently understood, which more or
less renders the point of a new clean-sheet project moot.

One could possibly design a new wiki system as a pass-through layer,
with MW as a back end and with functionality being migrated forwards
into the new system over time as people got used to it.

I think there's an opportunity either for a reconceptualized
enterprise oriented MW like system, but done in a clean sheet project
and partly or entirely outside the Wikimedia Foundation, or for such a
project as a passthrough layer intended to eventually replace MW and
done within the Foundation. Whether either of these will ever happen
I don't know. The most common Wikis seem to be MediaWiki (with all
its warts), Twiki (with all its lack of functionality and
administrative warts), and SharePoint (*cough*gack* - though I use it,
too). None of these is optimal for the typical wiki environment,
users or administrators. We seem to be muddling through.

I know open source software developers with large software project
architect and management experience; I've asked some of them about
this. They agree it'd be a great idea, if someone else did it.

If you happen to know someone else, I have people who would likely
commit some supporting coding effort and time and architecture and
management experience, including myself. But someone else would have
to get the project off the ground and spearhead it. I have too many
balls in the air (and a couple in nearby space and suborbital
trajectories) at the moment...
--
-george william herbert
***@gmail.com
Ryan Lane
2010-03-03 05:06:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by George Herbert
One could possibly design a new wiki system as a pass-through layer,
with MW as a back end and with functionality being migrated forwards
into the new system over time as people got used to it.
I think there's an opportunity either for a reconceptualized
enterprise oriented MW like system, but done in a clean sheet project
and partly or entirely outside the Wikimedia Foundation, or for such a
project as a passthrough layer intended to eventually replace MW and
done within the Foundation.  Whether either of these will ever happen
I don't know.  The most common Wikis seem to be MediaWiki (with all
its warts), Twiki (with all its lack of functionality and
administrative warts), and SharePoint (*cough*gack* - though I use it,
too).  None of these is optimal for the typical wiki environment,
users or administrators.  We seem to be muddling through.
Isn't this what Mindtouch Deki did? Deki is/was a fork of MediaWiki.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MindTouch_Deki

Confluence is also a fairly heavily used enterprise wiki.

Respectfully,

Ryan Lane
George Herbert
2010-03-03 05:26:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ryan Lane
Post by George Herbert
One could possibly design a new wiki system as a pass-through layer,
with MW as a back end and with functionality being migrated forwards
into the new system over time as people got used to it.
I think there's an opportunity either for a reconceptualized
enterprise oriented MW like system, but done in a clean sheet project
and partly or entirely outside the Wikimedia Foundation, or for such a
project as a passthrough layer intended to eventually replace MW and
done within the Foundation.  Whether either of these will ever happen
I don't know.  The most common Wikis seem to be MediaWiki (with all
its warts), Twiki (with all its lack of functionality and
administrative warts), and SharePoint (*cough*gack* - though I use it,
too).  None of these is optimal for the typical wiki environment,
users or administrators.  We seem to be muddling through.
Isn't this what Mindtouch Deki did? Deki is/was a fork of MediaWiki.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MindTouch_Deki
Ah, learn something new every day.
Post by Ryan Lane
Confluence is also a fairly heavily used enterprise wiki.
I have never met a Confluence environment in the wild; overall user
statistics I am aware of, and my personal experience, are that MW,
Twiki, and Sharepoint dominate actual usage.

If you have better stats, I'm all ears. I am not in any way a
Confluence opponent, and a couple of people I respect a lot like it,
but I've never found an actual user out there.
--
-george william herbert
***@gmail.com
David Gerard
2010-03-03 07:42:43 UTC
Permalink
If you have better stats, I'm all ears.  I am not in any way a
Confluence opponent, and a couple of people I respect a lot like it,
but I've never found an actual user out there.
All of the BBC. It's their intranet wiki. Runs on four large Dell
2950s, serving ~26k users. (I was one of the sysadmins for it for a
while.)


- d.
George Herbert
2010-03-03 08:45:25 UTC
Permalink
Excellent data point. Thanks, David.
Post by David Gerard
If you have better stats, I'm all ears.  I am not in any way a
Confluence opponent, and a couple of people I respect a lot like it,
but I've never found an actual user out there.
All of the BBC. It's their intranet wiki. Runs on four large Dell
2950s, serving ~26k users. (I was one of the sysadmins for it for a
while.)
--
-george william herbert
***@gmail.com
David Gerard
2010-03-03 11:27:20 UTC
Permalink
Excellent data point.  Thanks, David.
It's hard to get sensible estimations of the spread of proprietary
server software - it doesn't generate the same amount of publicity,
press, forums etc. that open source does. (This leads to "notability"
problems when trying to document it on en:wp, for example.) The data
is largely regarded as confidential corporate information by the
developing company.


- d.
Thomas Dalton
2010-03-03 05:31:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Lewis
Mediawiki makes millions more than Wordpress does too, why can't the money be put into making a modern product instead of in pockets of the people who run it?
The Wikimedia Foundation makes millions more than Wordpress, but the
Foundation is running a top 5 website. That they are able to do that
on just a few million is amazing. The other top 5 sites are things
like Google than spend billions. Maintaining and improving Mediawiki
is just one of the things the Foundation does with its relatively
small budget. The only money going into the pockets of the people that
run the Foundation is their very reasonable salaries. The board get
nothing (except their actual expenses, and some don't even claim
those) and there are no shareholders getting profits (the WMF is a
charity).
Domas Mituzas
2010-03-03 10:08:48 UTC
Permalink
Hi!
Post by Thomas Dalton
The Wikimedia Foundation makes millions more than Wordpress, but the
Foundation is running a top 5 website.
wordpress.com is in top20 too :)

Domas
Dmitriy Sintsov
2010-03-03 08:02:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Lewis
I hope I am emailing this to the right group. My concern was about
mediawiki and it's limitations, as well as it's outdated methods. As
someone wo runs a wiki, I've gone through a lot of frustrations.
If Wordpress is like Windows 7, then Mediawiki is Windows 2000. Very
outdated GUI, outdated ways of doing things,for example using ftp to
edit the settings of the wiki instead of having a direct interface
like
Post by Chris Lewis
Wordpress.
MediaWiki is not like Windows; it is more like Linux. I can type
formatted wikitext with links, lists, headers and tables faster than by
using MS Office GUI.

MindTouch Deku has backend and frontend written in different languages -
so, it is harder to install and probably is not suitable to cheap
sharing hosting. it also stores data in xml format, which is not the
best for "manual" typing.

With all recent dramatical improvement of PHP by Facebook (I've
impressed with the translator and the xhp), PHP may move from "toy-like"
language (as I've heard from local .net developers) to a very serious
platform. In fact, these improvements probably are even more important
than a long-awaiting PHP 6.0..
http://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-engineering/xhp-a-new-way-to-write-php/294003943919
although a mapping of XML to wikitext can be a problem (though the
parser uses DOM already)..
Maybe a replacement to wgOut, though.
Dmitriy
Domas Mituzas
2010-03-03 10:05:36 UTC
Permalink
Hi!
Post by Chris Lewis
I hope I am emailing this to the right group. My concern was about mediawiki and it's limitations, as well as it's outdated methods. As someone wo runs a wiki, I've gone through a lot of frustrations.
Very sad to hear that!
Post by Chris Lewis
Mediawiki makes millions more than Wordpress does too
Hahahahaha, ha, hahahahahahahahaha, hahahahah, haha, hahahahahahahaha.

Ha.

Hahaha.

Let me recover, uh, hahahaha, oh, hah, thanks.

First of all, Wordpress is a platform for a commercial product, Wordpress.com, backed by a company, Auttomatic, which has way more funding (it closed 30M$ investment round two years ago) and nearly 40 employees.
They have commercial offerings which are bringing quite some additional revenue they can feed into development. And of course, they have to compete with Google's Blogger, SixApart, Facebook, Twitter and others.

In the large picture, Wikipedia raises money to spread knowledge, and the fact that people are using mediawiki in 3rd party environments is a side effect.
MediaWiki is very modern product, just not on the visible side (though maybe usability initiative will change that). It has lots of fascinating modern things internally :)
Though of course, by "in pockets of people who run it", you're definitely trolling here. :-(
Post by Chris Lewis
-Default skins are boring
They were not back in 2005 =)
Post by Chris Lewis
-Very limited in being able to make the wiki look nice like you could with a normal webpage.
Why would that be a priority for foundation developers?
Post by Chris Lewis
-A major pain to update! Wordpress upgrades are so simple.
'svn up' -> done! ;-) Same for Wordpress... :)
Post by Chris Lewis
-Better customization so people can get a wiki the way they want.
Feel free to develop it that way.
Post by Chris Lewis
It should be more like the wikis on wikia,
Wikia is mediawiki with extensions. So it is modern, again?
Post by Chris Lewis
except without me having to learn css and php to make those types of customizations.
Why should we be facilitating _your_ needs?
Post by Chris Lewis
Give me some option, some places to put widgets. Not every wiki is going to be as formal as the ones on wikimedia sites.
You can put 'widgets' via extensions. If you need something more, feel free to develop that.
Post by Chris Lewis
And don't the people at Wikimedia commons get tired of always having to make changes so it actually suits their site?
If they had some of the options from the get go, i'm sure they'd appreciate it too.
Maybe.
Post by Chris Lewis
-I don't want to go to my ftp to download my local settings file, add a few lines then reupload it. This is caveman-like behavior for the modern internet.
You can use WebDAV, SFTP, SCP, and your own staging environments.
On the other side, LocalSettings is the most flexible configuration method, that allows to manage thousands of wikis in quite small form factor.
Post by Chris Lewis
-Being able to manage extensions like wordpress does.
Feel free to develop it :)
Post by Chris Lewis
In short, it's time to spend some money from those millions of dollars from donations to make this software more modern. Being stubborn in modernizing it will only make this software less relevant in the future if other wiki software companies are willing to do things the people at Wikimedia aren't.
The donations are for making the software more modern for Wikimedia sites. Funneling them to MediaWiki as an open-source software project is a byproduct. :-)

Domas
Tei
2010-03-03 10:19:58 UTC
Permalink
On 3 March 2010 11:05, Domas Mituzas <***@gmail.com> wrote:
...
Post by Domas Mituzas
MediaWiki is very modern product, just not on the visible side (though maybe usability initiative will change that). It has lots of fascinating modern things internally :)
Though of course, by "in pockets of people who run it", you're definitely trolling here. :-(
I have read this very thread in a different context. Quake engines.
Most quake engines fall short in the usability side, because are
"evolved" by tecnical people, and some of the users ask for more ...
tecnical features. You have (on the quake scene) sysadmins that want
sysadmins stuff, and are more than happy to edit text files and access
the server with ssh, and QuakeWorld veterans that ask some
competitive fairness and features that smooth the engine, but don't
exactly make the game look better, only cleaner... and would greet any
new console command :-) (quake has a console to change settings).

There (on Quake engine) usability is always a nice thing to have, but
seems the priorities lie elsewhere, and anything else gets into the
engines before usability. The distance of usability from Quake to
any 2010 game is giganteous. Is something I would love to fix.. but I
have tons of other ideas.

I feel It takes a enormeous effort to move a proyect managed by
programmers and sysadmins for programmers and sysadmins to be
palatable by mere desktop users. The good news is that sysadmins and
programmers are desktop users too, so will love a sexier interface,
and more usability.
--
--
ℱin del ℳensaje.
David Gerard
2010-03-03 11:35:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tei
I feel It takes a enormeous effort to move a proyect managed by
programmers and sysadmins for programmers and sysadmins to be
palatable by mere desktop users.  The good news is that sysadmins and
programmers are desktop users too, so will love a sexier interface,
and more usability.
MediaWiki is server software and its audience is sysadmins.

That said, for anyone with a reasonably recent Linux distro who is OK
with the command line, it's incredibly easy to install. (Even on
CentOS 4, if you put in some more recent packages of stuff.)

I have no idea if there's a nice Windows package friendly enough for
the low-to-medium-tier NT admins (those who watch progress bars for a
living), but that would be nice. They're not going to get away from
the command line and text configuration files, though.

(GUIfying LocalSettings.php is a bad, bad idea. There's enough bad
GUIs where someone just turned every possible text option into two
hundred radio-button options. A good GUI beats a command line ... a
command line beats a bad GUI.)

I would also dispute using WordPress as the gold standard example of
command-line-free administration ... I run WordPress happily on my own
blogs, and the one-click upgrade is very easy and slick, but I just
wouldn't be able to do what I want to do with it without considerable
command-line fiddling and PHP code hacking. WordPress lets you do
anything you want, much as MediaWiki does, but it similarly does not
restrain you from shooting yourself in the foot (as I have done
frequently).


- d.
Chad
2010-03-03 11:55:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Gerard
Post by Tei
I feel It takes a enormeous effort to move a proyect managed by
programmers and sysadmins for programmers and sysadmins to be
palatable by mere desktop users.  The good news is that sysadmins and
programmers are desktop users too, so will love a sexier interface,
and more usability.
MediaWiki is server software and its audience is sysadmins.
That said, for anyone with a reasonably recent Linux distro who is OK
with the command line, it's incredibly easy to install. (Even on
CentOS 4, if you put in some more recent packages of stuff.)
Of course. This is who MediaWiki has been targeted at thus far: people
with at least basic competency with a command line and configuration in
text files. Does it work? Yes, and very well. But is it the most user friendly
solution? Certainly not. Cleaning up the installation/upgrade is being
targeted for the 1.17 release, if all goes well. Keep in mind that this will
probably have less practical use for Wikimedia: this is being designed with
third parties in mind.
Post by David Gerard
I have no idea if there's a nice Windows package friendly enough for
the low-to-medium-tier NT admins (those who watch progress bars for a
living), but that would be nice. They're not going to get away from
the command line and text configuration files, though.
XAMPP. It takes a whopping 5 minutes to download and install. Gives
you Apache/mySQL/PHP all ready to go at C:\xampp. It really cannot
get any easier than this. If you can't install this, I wouldn't even trust
you to run my WordPress.
Post by David Gerard
(GUIfying LocalSettings.php is a bad, bad idea. There's enough bad
GUIs where someone just turned every possible text option into two
hundred radio-button options. A good GUI beats a command line ... a
command line beats a bad GUI.)
Some things could probably be moved out of LocalSettings. The
Configure extension did some things right, some things wrong. I'd like to
see our configuration management eventually handled in a standardized
way (rather than just tacking on more $wgVars in GlobalSettings), which
would open up the possibility for GUI-based configuration of some portions
of MediaWiki
Post by David Gerard
I would also dispute using WordPress as the gold standard example of
command-line-free administration ... I run WordPress happily on my own
blogs, and the one-click upgrade is very easy and slick, but I just
wouldn't be able to do what I want to do with it without considerable
command-line fiddling and PHP code hacking. WordPress lets you do
anything you want, much as MediaWiki does, but it similarly does not
restrain you from shooting yourself in the foot (as I have done
frequently).
- d.
_______________________________________________
Wikitech-l mailing list
https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
True. I think the ideal goal is keeping MediaWiki flexible enough where
it suits the needs of Wikimedia (lest we never forget: they're the primary
customer). Easy hacking makes it easy for them and easy for developers.
Can we make the really common things (changing sitename, upload
settings, path configuration, permissions, interwiki links) slightly less
daunting though? Certainly.

-Chad
Tisza Gergő
2010-03-03 13:26:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chad
Post by David Gerard
I have no idea if there's a nice Windows package friendly enough for
the low-to-medium-tier NT admins (those who watch progress bars for a
living), but that would be nice. They're not going to get away from
the command line and text configuration files, though.
XAMPP. It takes a whopping 5 minutes to download and install. Gives
you Apache/mySQL/PHP all ready to go at C:\xampp. It really cannot
get any easier than this. If you can't install this, I wouldn't even trust
you to run my WordPress.
There is also a single-file installer for MediaWiki + AMP stack (
http://bitnami.org/stack/mediawiki ) for people who really can't do anything
more difficult than clicking "OK" buttons.
Gregory Maxwell
2010-03-03 12:36:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Lewis
I hope I am emailing this to the right group. My concern was about mediawiki and it's limitations, as well as it's outdated methods. As someone wo runs a wiki, I've gone through a lot of frustrations.
If Wordpress is like Windows 7, then Mediawiki is Windows 2000. Very
outdated GUI,
There are many, many, many skins available.
Post by Chris Lewis
outdated ways of doing things,
for example using ftp to edit the settings of the wiki instead of having a
FTP ??!? No. It's just a file. Configuration files are considered
pretty reasonable and reliable by a lot of people. ::shrugs::


In any case… It's Free Software, submit patches.


Cheers.
Platonides
2010-03-03 15:03:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Lewis
I hope I am emailing this to the right group.
It is.
Post by Chris Lewis
My concern was about mediawiki and it's limitations, as well as it's outdated methods. As someone wo runs a wiki, I've gone through a lot of frustrations.
Maybe you should list your frustrations? It maybe a problem on
interfaces/documentation rather than mediawiki itself being difficult.
Post by Chris Lewis
If Wordpress is like Windows 7, then Mediawiki is Windows 2000. Very outdated GUI, outdated ways of doing things,
for example using ftp to edit the settings of the wiki instead of
having a direct interface like Wordpress.

There's the experimental
http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:Configurator
Post by Chris Lewis
Mediawiki makes millions more than Wordpress does too, why can't the
money be put into making a modern product instead of in pockets of the
people who run it? I know Wordpress and Mediawiki serve two different
purposes, but that's not the point.
In short, it's time to spend some money from those millions of
dollars from donations to make this software more modern.
The Wikimedia Foundation gets money to run its sites. That's mostly
salaries, servers and bandwidth, not mediawiki software.

You can view http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Financial_reports
Post by Chris Lewis
-Default skins are boring
Feel free to offer skins to add by default (the skin design will change
soon).
Post by Chris Lewis
-Very limited in being able to make the wiki look nice like you could with a normal webpage.
Sorry??
It allows admins to style the site however they want.

Have you seen www.csszengarden.com? It's all CSS.
Post by Chris Lewis
-Better customization so people can get a wiki the way they want. It
should be more like the wikis on wikia, except without me having to
learn css and php to make those types of customizations. Give me some
option, some places to put widgets. Not every wiki is going to be as
formal as the ones on wikimedia sites.
Many of those customizations are CSS in the lower layer.
As a user you can completely change the way you see almost everything,
without having to bug the sysadmins.
Also note that using Extension:Gadgets you can install the widgets /
appearance designed from other users with a checkbox in your preferences.

How are normal webpages easier to "make look nice"?
Post by Chris Lewis
And don't the people at
Wikimedia commons get tired of always having to make changes so it
actually suits their site? If they had some of the options from the
get go, i'm sure they'd appreciate it too.
Please document that change you want done.
Wikimedia Commons has many javascript customizations, but it's also
because it's easier to "fix" problems with a javascript than developing
a php fix and waiting for it to go live.
Post by Chris Lewis
-A major pain to update! Wordpress upgrades are so simple.
Updating mediawii isn't hard.
And Wordpress have also had more (and worse) vulnerabilities.
Post by Chris Lewis
-I don't want to go to my ftp to download my local settings file, add a few lines then reupload it. This is caveman-like behavior for the modern internet.
-Being able to manage extensions like wordpress does.
You should still use ftp to copy the extension there, it's not a big
problem to configure it at the same time.
Post by Chris Lewis
Being stubborn in modernizing it will only make this software less
relevant in the future if other wiki software companies are willing to do
things the people at Wikimedia aren't.
Thank you
Paul Houle
2010-03-03 15:06:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Lewis
I hope I am emailing this to the right group. My concern was about mediawiki and it's limitations, as well as it's outdated methods. As someone wo runs a wiki, I've gone through a lot of frustrations.
For one thing, I'd say that mediawiki aims for a particular market
position.

Mediawiki is designed to support very large wikis, i.e. 3M pages
on one of the most trafficked web sites on Earth.

For a large-scale site, there's going to be a lot of administration
work to be done, so it doesn't matter if the system is difficult to set
up and configure.

Wordpress, on the other hand, set out with the mission of being
the 'cheap and cheerful' program that would dominate the market for
blogging software. Everything about Wordpress is designed to make it
easy to set up a Wordpress site quickly and configure it easily.
Wordpress does scale OK to fairly large blogs and high traffic if you
SuperCache it.

If you want a wiki that's easier to set up and administer, I'd
consider forking or starting out from scratch. (In the latter case you
get complete control of configuration management, which is key)
David Gerard
2010-03-03 15:30:56 UTC
Permalink
   For a large-scale site,  there's going to be a lot of administration
work to be done,  so it doesn't matter if the system is difficult to set
up and configure.
As it turns out, MediaWiki isn't really hard at all :-)
   Wordpress,  on the other hand,  set out with the mission of being
the 'cheap and cheerful' program that would dominate the market for
blogging software.  Everything about Wordpress is designed to make it
easy to set up a Wordpress site quickly and configure it easily.
Wordpress does scale OK to fairly large blogs and high traffic if you
SuperCache it.
Multi-user WordPress is a bit arsier. Comparable faff to MediaWiki setup.


- d.
Marco Schuster
2010-03-03 18:22:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Gerard
   For a large-scale site,  there's going to be a lot of administration
work to be done,  so it doesn't matter if the system is difficult to set
up and configure.
As it turns out, MediaWiki isn't really hard at all :-)
   Wordpress,  on the other hand,  set out with the mission of being
the 'cheap and cheerful' program that would dominate the market for
blogging software.  Everything about Wordpress is designed to make it
easy to set up a Wordpress site quickly and configure it easily.
Wordpress does scale OK to fairly large blogs and high traffic if you
SuperCache it.
Multi-user WordPress is a bit arsier. Comparable faff to MediaWiki setup.
apt-get install wordpress, and let dpkg handle the rest. it's really easy.

marco
--
VMSoft GbR
Nabburger Str. 15
81737 München
Geschäftsführer: Marco Schuster, Volker Hemmert
http://vmsoft-gbr.de
Dmitriy Sintsov
2010-03-03 18:59:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Gerard
Post by David Gerard
Multi-user WordPress is a bit arsier. Comparable faff to MediaWiki
setup.
apt-get install wordpress, and let dpkg handle the rest. it's really easy.
WordPress wasn't the gemstone of code about 2 years ago I've checked it.
MediaWiki was a clear winner, don't know about current WordPress code,
though.

MediaWiki can also be installed via the packages. It only gives an
illusion of "easiness", which only undervalues real work needed to
configure for example a farm of it (once I've had a farm where the
language code wasn't dns 3rd level but base rewrite path:
site.org/ru/Page, site.org/en/Page and so on). Create templates, your
skins, extensions and so on.
Dmitriy
David Gerard
2010-03-03 19:24:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dmitriy Sintsov
WordPress wasn't the gemstone of code about 2 years ago I've checked it.
MediaWiki was a clear winner, don't know about current WordPress code,
though.
It's by far the least-worst blogging engine. It does REALLY REALLY
HELP to know your way around a command line, even though you don't
need it a *lot*.

The WordPress 'Sploit Of The Week gets a bit tiresome, too.


- d.
Dmitriy Sintsov
2010-03-03 19:58:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Gerard
It's by far the least-worst blogging engine. It does REALLY REALLY
HELP to know your way around a command line, even though you don't
need it a *lot*.
Mostly a basic things will be enough, not really a bash guru.
Post by David Gerard
The WordPress 'Sploit Of The Week gets a bit tiresome, too.
What's the point of using WordPress, can't you blog in MediaWiki? I
don't see much difference, except that MediaWiki code was better
structured back then.
Dmitriy
David Gerard
2010-03-03 20:02:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dmitriy Sintsov
What's the point of using WordPress, can't you blog in MediaWiki? I
don't see much difference, except that MediaWiki code was better
structured back then.
You can blog using a text editor and an FTP client too, but WordPress
does lots of little things that save work for you :-)


- d.
Dmitriy Sintsov
2010-03-03 20:32:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Gerard
You can blog using a text editor and an FTP client too, but WordPress
does lots of little things that save work for you :-)
Semantic MediaWiki also easily builds various lists depending on
properties of article, RSS feeds and so on.
Aryeh Gregor
2010-03-03 19:53:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dmitriy Sintsov
WordPress wasn't the gemstone of code about 2 years ago I've checked it.
MediaWiki was a clear winner, don't know about current WordPress code,
though.
Please, let's not start attacking other projects here. There's no
call for such unconstructive denigration.
Post by Dmitriy Sintsov
I'd love it if there were some easy way to get these administrators who
have had to come up with hacks to share what their issues were, what
their solutions were, and maybe even push their changes back upstream =)
Do people here generally feel this would be a good resource to have?
And, more importantly, that it would be used?
I feel that the issue here is pretty simple. Anyone who can write a
patch for MediaWiki is probably pretty comfortable with having to use
SSH all the time to administer their wiki, so no one is going to add
this kind of feature because they personally want it. Projects that
have easy-to-use admin interfaces tend to get them for one of two
reasons:

1) Someone is making money off the software's use by average people,
and is willing to pay developers to make the software easier to use
because it will turn a profit for them.

2) Some people really want to see the software succeed for
non-financial reasons, so they're willing to put in extra effort to
make it easier to use even if it doesn't directly benefit them.

(1) is unlikely to happen for us (I'd imagine it's the reason
WordPress is easy to use, though). (2) hasn't happened because most
of us care mainly about Wikipedia or the wikis we administer, and
aren't overly concerned with third parties who aren't savvy enough to
use a command line. It does happen for some other free software whose
raison d'etre is widespread use.
Tisza Gergő
2010-03-04 13:39:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Aryeh Gregor
2) Some people really want to see the software succeed for
non-financial reasons, so they're willing to put in extra effort to
make it easier to use even if it doesn't directly benefit them.
...
Post by Aryeh Gregor
(2) hasn't happened because most
of us care mainly about Wikipedia or the wikis we administer, and
aren't overly concerned with third parties who aren't savvy enough to
use a command line.
Which is too bad; it would be very useful for Wikimedia's mission if MediaWiki
was more widespread and more people would be more comfortable using it. It would
be especially useful if it would be widespread in educational and academic
circles (though it already seems to be the wiki engine of choice there) as those
are key target demographics for Wikipedia; the foundation could spend some
effort to analyze what are the greatest shortcomings of MediaWiki in that area.
(One-click install and reorganizable widgets probably wouldn't get on that list,
though.)
Chad
2010-03-04 13:49:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tisza Gergő
Post by Aryeh Gregor
2) Some people really want to see the software succeed for
non-financial reasons, so they're willing to put in extra effort to
make it easier to use even if it doesn't directly benefit them.
...
Post by Aryeh Gregor
(2) hasn't happened because most
of us care mainly about Wikipedia or the wikis we administer, and
aren't overly concerned with third parties who aren't savvy enough to
use a command line.
Which is too bad; it would be very useful for Wikimedia's mission if MediaWiki
was more widespread and more people would be more comfortable using it. It would
be especially useful if it would be widespread in educational and academic
circles (though it already seems to be the wiki engine of choice there) as those
are key target demographics for Wikipedia; the foundation could spend some
effort to analyze what are the greatest shortcomings of MediaWiki in that area.
(One-click install and reorganizable widgets probably wouldn't get on that list,
though.)
_______________________________________________
Wikitech-l mailing list
https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
Seeing the recurring complaints about the installation/upgrade process, I
think people must've missed my e-mail earlier in the thread. The installation
and upgrade processes are being redone and is targeted for the 1.17 release.

-Chad
Paul Houle
2010-03-03 21:14:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Gerard
Post by Paul Houle
For a large-scale site, there's going to be a lot of administration
work to be done, so it doesn't matter if the system is difficult to set
up and configure.
As it turns out, MediaWiki isn't really hard at all :-)
I dunno.

Maybe I'm a total dolt, but the easiest way I've found to change
the template in mediawiki is to write a wrapper that gets to spit it's
output into an outputbuffer, extracts the content from the default
template, then inserts it in a new template.
Robert Stojnic
2010-03-03 16:35:55 UTC
Permalink
There is a great difference in business models there. Wordpress and
confluence make their money out of third-party applications, WMF makes
it money out of donations to keep the Wikipedia going. It would be at
best irresponsible to use this money for sole purpose of making the
software more useful for 3d parties.. If the 3rd parties are willing to
pay a developer or donate money to make MediaWiki more user friendly
(like has happened with the usability initiative) that is fine, but do
not ask core developers or even volunteers to put any work into this.

Cheers, r.
Aryeh Gregor
2010-03-03 18:01:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Lewis
If Wordpress is like Windows 7, then Mediawiki is Windows 2000. Very outdated GUI, outdated ways of doing things,for example using ftp to edit the settings of the wiki instead of having a direct interface like Wordpress. Mediawiki makes millions more than Wordpress does too, why can't the money be put into making a modern product instead of in pockets of the people who run it?
Wordpress is funded by a for-profit corporation, while MediaWiki is
funded by a not-for-profit charity, so I think you have that
backwards. :)
Post by Chris Lewis
In short, it's time to spend some money from those millions of dollars from donations to make this software more modern. Being stubborn in modernizing it will only make this software less relevant in the future if other wiki software companies are willing to do things the people at Wikimedia aren't.
That's fine. MediaWiki is designed for use by Wikimedia, and is an
excellent tool for that task. Wikimedia doesn't need most of the
features you asked for, so MediaWiki doesn't have them. It's great
that other people use our software -- that's why we release it -- but
if they can find some other package that's better suited to their
needs, good for them.

Of course, if you or anyone else would be interested in becoming a
MediaWiki developer for the purpose of improving its admin experience
for small users, that would be great. No one much has stepped forward
to do that, though, so it hasn't gotten done.

Wikimedia is not a "wiki software company", by the way.
Nimish Gautam
2010-03-03 19:39:39 UTC
Permalink
Chiming in on this a little late, but, basically:

Yeah, mediawiki isn't that easy to administer. Unfortunately, people
administering MediaWiki installs are only one type of user that we have
to worry about and resources (as always) are limited. Right now, we're
focusing a concentrated effort on making things easier for editors
(users generating content), BUT I think administrators are an important
group because I hear stories all the time about how administrators for
intranet wikis get requests from people in their company for a better
way to do X or Y, and they have to write it themselves.

I'd love it if there were some easy way to get these administrators who
have had to come up with hacks to share what their issues were, what
their solutions were, and maybe even push their changes back upstream =)
Do people here generally feel this would be a good resource to have?
And, more importantly, that it would be used?
Post by Chris Lewis
I hope I am emailing this to the right group. My concern was about mediawiki and it's limitations, as well as it's outdated methods. As someone wo runs a wiki, I've gone through a lot of frustrations.
-Default skins are boring
-Very limited in being able to make the wiki look nice like you could with a normal webpage.
-A major pain to update! Wordpress upgrades are so simple.
-Better customization so people can get a wiki the way they want. It should be more like the wikis on wikia, except without me having to learn css and php to make those types of customizations. Give me some option, some places to put widgets. Not every wiki is going to be as formal as the ones on wikimedia sites. And don't the people at Wikimedia commons get tired of always having to make changes so it actually suits their site? If they had some of the options from the get go, i'm sure they'd appreciate it too.
-I don't want to go to my ftp to download my local settings file, add a few lines then reupload it. This is caveman-like behavior for the modern internet.
-Being able to manage extensions like wordpress does.
In short, it's time to spend some money from those millions of dollars from donations to make this software more modern. Being stubborn in modernizing it will only make this software less relevant in the future if other wiki software companies are willing to do things the people at Wikimedia aren't.
Thank you
_______________________________________________
Wikitech-l mailing list
https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
Yaron Koren
2010-03-03 23:30:29 UTC
Permalink
I'm in somewhat of a unique position to comment on this, since I both do
MediaWiki extension development, and run a MediaWiki consulting company
(shameless plug: wikiworks.com) - so I personally have a financial interest
in making MediaWiki more popular and more easy-to-use. I also tend to hear a
lot about the specific frustrations people have with MediaWiki, which has
led to my development of certain extensions, like Admin Links, which defines
a page meant to serve as a "control panel" for administrators:

http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:Admin_Links

Troll-like as the original email was, :) it brought up some fairly common
complaints. The basic answer to these is that they are, in fact, being
addressed: as a few people noted, the usability initiative has already
created a much nicer skin, Vector; and a planned project for the upcoming
Google Summer of Code is to provide a way to install and manage extensions
via the web browser, the way WordPress does it. A few extensions, like
Configure, also allow for a web-based substitute for editing
LocalSettings.php, though they could stand some improvement.

Finally, on the more general subject of Wikimedia's relationship to
MediaWiki: I do think it would be nice if Wikimedia, and outside MediaWiki
developers, were more aware of, and more positive about, MediaWiki's
popularity in the outside world. It's used very heavily as an enterprise
wiki around the world, and I think for good reason: it's robust, stable,
very feature-rich, heavily translated, and when used with the set of
extensions around Semantic MediaWiki I think it's in a class of its own. I
just think a better answer when people ask about problems with MediaWiki is
to say "I don't know", or "I think someone's working on that", rather than
"MediaWiki is intended for use by Wikimedia projects, and if you have a
problem using it, you should switch to another wiki application." First, for
many uses there is no better wiki software, especially not for the cost; and
second, there are a lot of people, especially among extension developers but
also in general, who are trying to improve MediaWiki as a
corporate/organizational application. I just think it would be nice if more
people celebrated MediaWiki's popularity, instead of ignoring or trying to
discourage it. :)

-Yaron
Chad
2010-03-05 02:55:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by Domas Mituzas
Post by Chris Lewis
-Being able to manage extensions like wordpress does.
Feel free to develop it :)
These types of replies are hilarious. It's like
Iphone user: "Dear Apple, if your iphone had the following features it would be great (A) (B) (C) ... "
Apple: "Oh if you want those features, go ahead and develop them on your own."
If I knew how to I would have done it already. What kind of advice is that? Seriously lol
_______________________________________________
Wikitech-l mailing list
https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
The difference being that MediaWiki is largely written by volunteers who
each have their own reasons for contributing which may or may not align
with what you'd like to do. If you have things you'd like to see done, you
have to drive that change--either by contributing it yourself, or finding
someone who's willing to work on it.

When you're proposing changes that require a substantial amount of work
to implement, don't be surprised when you don't have people lining up to
work on it.

-Chad
Chris Lewis
2010-03-05 02:42:44 UTC
Permalink
A lot of the replies were helpful, in particular Ryan Lane and Yaron's replies. Also made a quick reply to Domas.




First to Ryan:

This is likely the right list.
Post by Ryan Lane
Are you aware of the Wikipedia usability initiative? Have you seen the
new skin they are creating (Vector), or the awesome new features they
http://usability.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
While vector is a step in the right direction, it's still pretty dry and plain. As a default skin it is perfectly fine, but i'd be nice to get some fancier skins out the box and be able to change the default skin for ALL users through the admin's preferences rather than editing a file.
Post by Ryan Lane
The skin system is also likely to have a major update in a very future
version of MediaWiki. Look through this list's archives, the
discussion was fairly recent.
Great news!
Post by Ryan Lane
-A major pain to update! Wordpress upgrades are so simple.
I don't really find updates to be terribly difficult. You mostly just
check out (or download) the newest version, and run update.php. This
is probably more difficult without shell access.
I have shell access, but it's not something I or a lot of people like doing. Most people don't want to do command lines except very technical people. Not everyone who runs a wiki is technical. Shouldn't the user of the software be kept in mind? I mean I know it's technically for wikimedia sites, but they can't pretend to be unaware that thousands of people are using it for their own personal wiki projects. I don't demand change, but isn't acknowledging your users a basic programing practice?
Post by Ryan Lane
Post by Chris Lewis
I don't want to go to my ftp to download my local settings file, add a few lines then reupload it. This is caveman-like behavior for the modern internet.
Get a host that supports SSH. Use VI, Emacs, nano, pico, etc.
I do have SSH, again, it's not the way I want to do it. Old school style. On the modern internet, it'd be nice to have a more modern way to editing my local settings. But it's good to hear someone is developing this.
Post by Ryan Lane
You are more than welcome to submit patches, and/or help develop the
features you want. I maintain a number of extensions, and have worked
with the MediaWiki code base for a number of years. I've found the
Wikimedia foundation, and the core developers to be very welcoming of
improvements to the software.
I wish I could! I have experience in java and c++, but not php except modifying a few basic changes of an already written php file. Also just jumping into a project without knowing the structure and how to write an extension is also no easy task and would take a long time. If time is money, i'd rather pay a developer to develop it, but chances are the features i would need would be useful to other folks and those features would be nice if it came in the package by default.

Thanks again for your reply, it was really helpful and insightful Ryan.





________________________________
Post by Ryan Lane
Finally, on the more general subject of Wikimedia's relationship to
MediaWiki: I do think it would be nice if Wikimedia, and outside MediaWiki
developers, were more aware of, and more positive about, MediaWiki's
popularity in the outside world. It's used very heavily as an enterprise
wiki around the world, and I think for good reason: it's robust, stable,
very feature-rich, heavily translated, and when used with the set of
extensions around Semantic MediaWiki I think it's in a class of its own. I
just think a better answer when people ask about problems with MediaWiki is
to say "I don't know", or "I think someone's working on that", rather than
"MediaWiki is intended for use by Wikimedia projects, and if you have a
problem using it, you should switch to another wiki application." First, for
many uses there is no better wiki software, especially not for the cost; and
second, there are a lot of people, especially among extension developers but
also in general, who are trying to improve MediaWiki as a
corporate/organizational application. I just think it would be nice if more
people celebrated MediaWiki's popularity, instead of ignoring or trying to
discourage it. :)
-Yaron

I agree 100%, especially the part I bolded. Also god bless the developers and extension writers for doing this out of their own free time, I guess I misunderstood the process and thought wikimedia had a code team that was paid.

Also I saw on a news site:
"The foundation has snared an $890,000 grant from the Stanton Foundation for the project and plans to assemble a five-person team to identify what exactly is turning some users off."
$890,000 for only a 5 man team? It would be great if this money went into some of the common changes people need.



Full View
_______________________________________________________________________

MediaWiki is very modern product, just not on the visible side (though maybe usability initiative will change that). It has lots of fascinating modern things internally :)
Post by Ryan Lane
Overall it's awesome no doubt (otherwise I wouldn't have used it in the first place), but a few of the practices (i.e. editing localsettings file through shell or ftp) and gui/aesthetics should definitely be more 'modern.'
Post by Chris Lewis
-Default skins are boring
They were not back in 2005 =)
In case you haven't heard, it's 2010 lol. A lot has changed since then.
Post by Ryan Lane
Post by Chris Lewis
-A major pain to update! Wordpress upgrades are so simple.
'svn up' -> done! ;-) Same for Wordpress... :)
The average person who wants to start a wik is gonna have no idea how to do that, much less even understand what svn up means. While I don't expect to be dumbed down a huge degree, a little bit more simplicity wouldn't hurt would it?
Post by Ryan Lane
Post by Chris Lewis
-Better customization so people can get a wiki the way they want.
Feel free to develop it that way.
Easier said than done.
Post by Ryan Lane
Post by Chris Lewis
It should be more like the wikis on wikia,
Wikia is mediawiki with extensions. So it is modern, again?
Wikia is heavily modified to give the gui a much more modern feel. Again i'm mostly focusing on the aesthetics. Unfortunately I don't think wikia distributes their skins.
Post by Ryan Lane
Post by Chris Lewis
except without me having to learn css and php to make those types of customizations.
Why should we be facilitating _your_ needs?
It's not just not my needs. It's about user friendliness for anyone who is using wikimedia to work on their wiki project. While the developers have no obligation to do it, it would be nice if they realized who their users are other than wikimedia.
Post by Ryan Lane
Post by Chris Lewis
Give me some option, some places to put widgets. Not every wiki is going to be as formal as the ones on wikimedia sites.
You can put 'widgets' via extensions. If you need something more, feel free to develop that.
Post by Chris Lewis
I don't want to go to my ftp to download my local settings file, add a few lines then reupload it. This is caveman-like behavior for the modern internet.
-Being able to manage extensions like wordpress does.
Feel free to develop it :)
These types of replies are hilarious. It's like
Iphone user: "Dear Apple, if your iphone had the following features it would be great (A) (B) (C) ... "
Apple: "Oh if you want those features, go ahead and develop them on your own."
If I knew how to I would have done it already. What kind of advice is that? Seriously lol
Domas Mituzas
2010-03-05 10:07:16 UTC
Permalink
Hi!
Post by Chris Lewis
A lot of the replies were helpful, in particular Ryan Lane and Yaron's replies. Also made a quick reply to Domas.
Replies are good!
Post by Chris Lewis
Overall it's awesome no doubt (otherwise I wouldn't have used it in the first place), but a few of the practices (i.e. editing localsettings file through shell or ftp) and gui/aesthetics should definitely be more 'modern.'
Priorities, priorities. Do note, no GUI will be able to scale to configuration needs most easily explained by pointing at http://noc.wikimedia.org/conf/
Post by Chris Lewis
In case you haven't heard, it's 2010 lol. A lot has changed since then.
Damn, you just shattered my illusion that I'm still young!
Post by Chris Lewis
The average person who wants to start a wik is gonna have no idea how to do that, much less even understand what svn up means. While I don't expect to be dumbed down a huge degree, a little bit more simplicity wouldn't hurt would it?
Average person who doesn't know how to do that can always try out service providers, and service providers can provide more skins and configuration interface, value added!
Maybe we could have a shell script that does upgrade, but 'one click upgrade' from the web interface is quite insecure method.

Maybe a good enough method would be having a simple shell script that does all that..
Post by Chris Lewis
Post by Domas Mituzas
Feel free to develop it that way.
Easier said than done.
Exactly ;-) It is huge engineering effort that may not be entirely aligned with WMF mission.
I have done quite a few changes to MediaWiki ages ago to better support my small company wiki needs (e.g. no hassle single sign on) - and somehow those changes got in (probably because, ehem, we didn't have formalized code review back then :-)
Post by Chris Lewis
Post by Domas Mituzas
Wikia is heavily modified to give the gui a much more modern feel. Again i'm mostly focusing on the aesthetics. Unfortunately I don't think wikia distributes their skins.
https://svn.wikia-code.com/wikia/trunk/skins/

Personally I'd like to see more stuff from Wikia to be poached into Wikimedia deployment (we're giving too much time for Wikia to learn from their mistakes, before we learn from theirs :)
Post by Chris Lewis
It's not just not my needs. It's about user friendliness for anyone who is using wikimedia to work on their wiki project. While the developers have no obligation to do it, it would be nice if they realized who their users are other than wikimedia.
Everyone realizes that there're users other than Wikimedia.
It is one of reasons why mediawiki has plethora of features that are not needed on Wikimedia sites (and that introduces code complexity).
It is also one of reasons why 'mediawiki' is 'mediawiki' and not 'wikimedia software'

Of course, Wikimedia use quite often stands in the way of development (as features have to be secure, scale nicely and maintainable in medium-large sized operations environments) - and unfortunately for feature development, fortunately for everyone who runs large mediawiki instances, those needs have to be in the core of project.
Post by Chris Lewis
These types of replies are hilarious. It's like
Iphone user: "Dear Apple, if your iphone had the following features it would be great (A) (B) (C) ... "
If you missed, iphone also has 3rd party application community. (a), (b), (c) features have been developed by third parties already, or there's a niche for those third parties.
Of course iphone economy is much fancier than mediawiki economy, so probably niches aren't filled here as fast.

You know, Microsoft didn't write every application for Windows, Apple doesn't own everything what runs on iStuff, lots of platforms have primary goals, and secondary goals can be filled by developer community.
Absolutely same here, you have full powers to do whatever you want to do.
Post by Chris Lewis
Apple: "Oh if you want those features, go ahead and develop them on your own."
If I knew how to I would have done it already. What kind of advice is that? Seriously lol
Seriously lol you can evangelize your needs, try to do project-management like activities, sketches, etc - and try involving other volunteer developers.
Instead of being an 'entrepreneur', what would be of benefit to everyone, you end up being a whiner.

If you really want to introduce lots of bad analogies, I should try to come up with my own.
"As I don't drive, I need government pay for my personal driver, as they have roads out there!"
I hope the analogy was bad enough! :)

Once you approach developer community, there's huge difference between:

"Hello folks, are there any projects in improving manageability/look/etc for third-party users?"
from "I've gone through a lot of frustrations.", "mediawiki and it's limitations", "why can't the money be put into making a modern product instead of in pockets of the people who run it", etc

I am amazed and I glorify the way how kindly some members of mailing list manage to take that, and try to put some sense into your head.

Domas
Roan Kattouw
2010-03-05 11:15:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Lewis
I agree 100%, especially the part I bolded. Also god bless the developers and extension writers for doing this out of their own free time, I guess I misunderstood the process and thought wikimedia had a code team that was paid.
Some developers are paid employees/contractors, some are not.
Obviously the paid developers do what WMF wants them to do (which
generally means doing stuff that benefits WMF primarily, not 3rd party
users per se) and volunteer developers do whatever the hell they want
(and in Chad's case that means overhauling the installer specifically
for 3rd party users,
Post by Chris Lewis
"The foundation has snared an $890,000 grant from the Stanton Foundation for the project and plans to assemble a five-person team to identify what exactly is turning some users off."
$890,000 for only a 5 man team? It would be great if this money went into some of the common changes people need.
As you quoted, it's a grant, so it's money with strings attached: WMF
either gets $890k that they have to spend on what Stanton wants them
to do (the usability project), or they don't get the money at all.
Also, while $890k sounds like a lot of money, software developers in
the San Francisco Bay Area cost a lot of money (cost of living is high
there, and there's plenty of big for-profit companies around trying to
hire the same people), and there's more costs than just those 5
people's salaries.
Post by Chris Lewis
Post by Domas Mituzas
They were not back in 2005 =)
In case you haven't heard, it's 2010 lol. A lot has changed since then.
We have heard. It's just that no one has cared since 2005 apart from
the aforementioned Stanton-funded usability team, which developed the
Vector skin. Like I said before, if WMF can't or won't dedicate one of
their few developers' time to something and no one in the volunteer
community cares, it doesn't happen.

Roan Kattouw (Catrope)
Magnus Manske
2010-03-05 11:28:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roan Kattouw
Post by Chris Lewis
Post by Domas Mituzas
They were not back in 2005 =)
In case you haven't heard, it's 2010 lol. A lot has changed since then.
We have heard. It's just that no one has cared since 2005 apart from
the aforementioned Stanton-funded usability team, which developed the
Vector skin. Like I said before, if WMF can't or won't dedicate one of
their few developers' time to something and no one in the volunteer
community cares, it doesn't happen.
On the bright side, it could still look like this:
http://nostalgia.wikipedia.org/wiki/HomePage

Magnus
Dmitriy Sintsov
2010-03-05 11:48:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roan Kattouw
Post by Chris Lewis
Post by Domas Mituzas
They were not back in 2005 =)
In case you haven't heard, it's 2010 lol. A lot has changed since
then.
We have heard. It's just that no one has cared since 2005 apart from
the aforementioned Stanton-funded usability team, which developed the
Vector skin. Like I said before, if WMF can't or won't dedicate one of
their few developers' time to something and no one in the volunteer
community cares, it doesn't happen.
Roan Kattouw (Catrope)
When one looks for educational / academic content, rich and colorful
interface only distracts the reader.
The following site is not mediawiki / monobook based, yet the visual
design is simple:
http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html
There is nothing wrong with it. Actually, there is real beauty in
simpicity.
Dmitriy
Chad
2010-03-05 12:13:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dmitriy Sintsov
Post by Roan Kattouw
Post by Chris Lewis
Post by Domas Mituzas
They were not back in 2005 =)
In case you haven't heard, it's 2010 lol. A lot has changed since
then.
We have heard. It's just that no one has cared since 2005 apart from
the aforementioned Stanton-funded usability team, which developed the
Vector skin. Like I said before, if WMF can't or won't dedicate one of
their few developers' time to something and no one in the volunteer
community cares, it doesn't happen.
Roan Kattouw (Catrope)
When one looks for educational / academic content, rich and colorful
interface only distracts the reader.
The following site is not mediawiki / monobook based, yet the visual
http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html
There is nothing wrong with it. Actually, there is real beauty in
simpicity.
Dmitriy
_______________________________________________
Wikitech-l mailing list
https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
Agree wholeheartedly. Sleek graphics and spinny Ajax loaders
do not inherently make a good design. It's about pleasing the
eye and being as intuitive as possible. We've got a general bug
open[1] for cleaning up the UI and drafting some standards for
future UI work. I really like where [[Manual:Coding conventions]]
has gone in terms of defining what we expect from our programmers.
Something similar (Manual:UI Conventions?) would help in setting
a standard to expect when creating our user interfaces.

On a semi-related note: I'm going to plug The Smashing Book[2]
as a good read for MediaWiki developers. It's got a lot of really
good information on Usability, UI, optimization techniques, color
usages, etc and makes for a well-rounded read for people working
on web apps. I know Andrew and Guillaume both have copies as
well and (as far as I know) have enjoyed it.

-Chad

[1] https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/13747
[2] http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/12/03/smashing-book-its-out-now/
Paul Houle
2010-03-08 17:23:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dmitriy Sintsov
When one looks for educational / academic content, rich and colorful
interface only distracts the reader.
The following site is not mediawiki / monobook based, yet the visual
http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html
There is nothing wrong with it. Actually, there is real beauty in
simpicity.
Dmitriy
The visual design is fine here, but information architecture is
seriously lacking here.

Of course, it's hard to design a navigation interface for a
heterogeneous collection of concepts as you see here, but the
alphabetical index doesn't play as well online as it does in print. The
eye and hand can scan alphabetically much faster in a book than you can
do online.

There are the really obvious problems that show up in alphabetical
listings: for instance, many people forget to fold "The" when they do
queries against online library catalog systems; more modern systems
ought to do the folding for you automatically, but there's really no
incentive for libraries to improve the services they offer their
patrons. Similarly, today it's pretty reasonable for a system to
accomodate people who are looking for "Adorno, Theodore" or "Theodore
Adorno".

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