Browse Author by RichardHeigl

BlueSpice MediaWiki vs. Confluence – the wiki alternatives (1)

Soccer image Germany Argentina
Sharing knowledge: One goal – different strategies. Image: Germany and Argentina face off in the final of the World Cup 2014 von Danilo Borges/copa2014.gov.br Licença Creative

In this two-part article, we give a detailed comparison of the wiki top dog MediaWiki and Confluence.

We already wrote a few words about MediaWiki and Confluence some years ago. At that time, we wrote about the main objections to MediaWiki.

That article is still worth reading and remains largely valid. Ultimately the key argument then was that the choice of tool did not depend only on features, but also on the concept behind the software. This is a timeless truth.

However, MediaWiki does not need to fear a direct feature comparison. Importantly, the enterprise distribution BlueSpice has already decided the feature question in my view. This can be seen on our newest internal feature-comparison table, published here and offered for free download:

This publication is a good chance to detail the differences and similarities of the two projects comprehensively and systematically. Continue Reading

Coming soon with BlueSpice 3 – a look at the road map

640px-Traffic_seen_from_top_of_Arc_de_Triomphe
BrokenSphere, Street traffic in the Place de l’Étoile as seen from the top of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

I can hardly believe it: the current version of BlueSpice, BlueSpice 2, will be four years old this year. It feels like just a few months ago that we announced Version 2. Anyway, it is now time to start thinking about a new version and to continue writing the road map.

At Hallo Welt! we have spent the last months collecting ideas, and checking and weighting requirements.

At our yearly strategy meeting, Markus Glaser presented his technical plan. So now it is official that we will publish a new BlueSpice Version 3 in the first quarter of 2018. The road map for our new MediaWiki distribution contains essential innovations and improvements we have wanted for a long time. BlueSpice 3 will achieve a new level of stability and flexibility. Continue Reading

MediaWiki Governance Revisited

At the Wikimania 2016 in Esino Lario I saw two interesting talks about MediaWiki community and governance issues. They are worth listening!

Quim Gil, Engineering Community Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation, was Analyzing conflict and possible solutions around WMF software development. He gave some helpful hints for community members and developers.

Quims slides can be found here.

Markus Glaser, Managing Engineer for BlueSpice and Member of the MediaWiki Stakeholders’ Group, discussed approaches for a future MediaWiki governance and suggested to establish a focussed organisation, which integrates the requirements of third-party users into the MediaWiki development:
Moving out of Home – MediaWiki Governance Revisited.

Markus’ slides can be found here:

Waiting for your comments 🙂

BlueSpice free 2.23.3 – stable released

Finally: on Tuesday, 31st May 2016, we released the stable version of BlueSpice 2.23.3. We managed to keep our deadline 🙂

Download it here at Sourceforge.

Although it is only a “minor and maintenance” release, we include some pretty helpful features, both in BlueSpice free and BlueSpice pro.

Here are some notable new features of BlueSpice free 2.23.3:

  • Compatibility: BlueSpice can now be used with MediaWiki 1.27.
  • BlueSpice API: There is now a standardized API for many BlueSpice actions.
  • ContextMenu: The extension is now enabled by default.
  • Dashboards: There is a wiki page portlet, which allows you to use any wiki page as a dashboard item. Create your own portlets!
  • ExtendedSearch: Introduces facet operators, which indicate whether multiple selections in a facet should be combined using AND or OR logic. It is now also possible to open articles in the autocomplete list in new windows or tabs.
  • Flexiskin: It is now possible to disable the background image.
  • GroupManager: Raised group name character limit from 16 to 255.
  • InsertMagic: Tag descriptions are now much more descriptive.
  • PermissionManager: Add hint flyout for every right.
  • Upload: XML and SVG files can now be uploaded by default.
  • UserMerge: Added extension to Distribution. Allows you to merge various users into one.
  • UserSidebar: There is now a “global actions” navigation tab for every user.
  • VisualEditor: Set default style for table to contenttable. This makes much nicer tables…

We also added some great new MediaWiki extensions to BlueSpice pro, e.g.

  • TagCloud: Use TagClouds to display e.g. categories
  • ExportTables: Export your wiki tables to Excel
  • Drawio: Include diagrams in BlueSpice
  • Duplicator: Duplicate articles easily
  • Math: Use mathematical forms

… and many more!

You can read the detailed release notes in our BlueSpice Helpdesk.

BlueSpice free 2.23.3 – Beta released

On Tuesday, 10th May 2016, we released BlueSpice free 2.23.3-beta, a minor and maintenance version.

Download it here at Sourceforge.

As it’s still a beta version – the final release is scheduled for the end of May – we need YOU to put it to the acid test. Please report bugs, patches and other feedback to our Sourceforge Forums. Any feedback is appreciated 🙂

Here are some notable new features of BlueSpice free 2.23.3:

  • Compatibility: BlueSpice can now be used with MediaWiki 1.27.
  • BlueSpice API: There is now a standardized API for many BlueSpice actions.
  • ContextMenu: The extension is now enabled by default.
  • Dashboards: There is a wiki page portlet, which allows you to use any wiki page as a dashboard item. Create your own portlets!
  • ExtendedSearch: Introduces facet operators, which indicate whether multiple selections in a facet should be combined using AND or OR logic. It is now also possible to open articles in the autocomplete list in new windows or tabs.
  • Flexiskin: It is now possible to disable the background image.
  • GroupManager: Raised group name character limit from 16 to 255.
  • InsertMagic: Tag descriptions are now much more descriptive.
  • PermissionManager: Add hint flyout for every right.
  • Upload: XML and SVG files can now be uploaded by default.
  • UserMerge: Added extension to Distribution. Allows you to merge various users into one.
  • UserSidebar: There is now a “global actions” navigation tab for every user.
  • VisualEditor: Set default style for table to contenttable. This makes much nicer tables…

You can read the detailed release notes in our BlueSpice Helpdesk.

BlueSpice Featurelist 2016 online

Yesterday we published a new feature list. It was necessary to record the latest extensions. But we used the opportunity to mention a lot of important features that BlueSpice with MediaWiki as basis technology automatically includes: for example security features, many reporting functions and mobile device support.

These features have been neglected in the past, despite the fact that they show that MediaWiki is the leading system for collaborative knowledge systems for good reasons. Hallo Welt! assumed that these features are well known. Now we wanted to show that BlueSpice already includes in its standard what others advertise as an extra.

There are now 152 features grouped in 17 topics. We could have extended the list considerably, but we focused on the most important features in order to make decision-makers’ work easier.

This year Hallo Welt! will continue to expand  the extension pool of distributions and take important steps towards the integration of extensions. Of this steps our pro customers will benefit in the first place.

Moreover BlueSpice offers unique opportunities in order to develop its own products and customized solutions. These opportunities we will explain in more detail elsewhere, when it comes, for example, to the subject of technology partnerships.

Maybe another note: The feature list is not the same as the official extension list (software catalogue). The extension list shows which extensions are included in the distributions and are supported by us. The official extension list can still be found here.

Now I hope you enjoy studying BlueSpice features 2016. Comments and questions are of course always welcome.

BlueSpice in 2016

The last few months BlueSpice MediaWiki has had a great time. We see an increasing number of downloads. BlueSpice becomes more and more visible. And as a result of that, we win many new customers and are involved in incredibly interesting projects.

This makes it possible, and necessary, to push the BlueSpice project forward this year again. We have many ideas and tasks. I cannot share all the details yet, but for a start, here are some general announcements.

Firstly, we will publish two releases this year:

  • A maintenance and security release end of April and
  • A feature release end of this summer.

For BlueSpice free and pro the maintenance release 2.23.3 will support MediaWiki 1.27.0 (the next MediaWiki LTS version). For this release we have reviewed the interface security and we perfected some features (Bookmaker, PermissionManager e.a.). And we‘re going to add some more MediaWiki extensions to the distribution. Be surprised.

Some key improvements of the later feature release are already known. BlueSpice pro will support WebDAV in the third quarter of this year, which means one can edit attached files without the need to upload them separately. They will be stored directly in the wiki file system.

Furthermore we’re going to improve the usability: users will be able to find important special pages like the review page much easier. And we will smoothen the user interface and features, so that BlueSpice will become the perfect tool for all quality assurance processes.

Handling extensions will become more comfortable with an extension store. This is a large project, but we will take the first steps towards realization.

Overdue are some important tasks to nurture the BlueSpice community. A community hub is on the way. In addition, the helpdesk and documentation will be getting more attention.

Finally the partner program is to be enhanced.

A lot to do. But with your feedback and help BlueSpice MediaWiki will make a huge step forward in 2016.

A new model for BlueSpice

BlueSpice Website

We set ourselves a couple of goals for 2015 and 2016 at our strategy meeting at the start of January. The most important ones relate to the MediaWiki distribution BlueSpice. We are making this successful product truly open source, offering new prospects for customers and partners.

100% subscription, one product, no more modules.

We have been developing the BlueSpice service model further and further over the last five years. In the future, BlueSpice will be made available in an integrated distribution. This means that the additional modules that require payment will be collected together in a single edition. Customers will thus be able to use all the modules from the outset. And, above all, you will gain tremendously from new developments as all our latest innovations will be contained in this distribution. This means that those new developments will always be available for subscribing customers whenever they want. This will save you the trouble of having to purchase them separately. Furthermore, as there will no longer be costs for each module, getting started with a professional solution will be significantly better value.

In parallel, there will still be the popular distribution BlueSpice free, which is downloaded 20,000 times a year, and used in over 130 countries and more than 20 languages. The free distribution contains the same scope of services as before, and remains the ideal first step in collaborative knowledge management.

Supporting growth and propagation

Why are we doing this? Firstly, because now we can. The major Linux distributions Red Hat and Suse have always been the examples we have followed: The best open source models for customers and developers are made in the Linux environment. However, moving away from project business and without outside capital, we are only now able to take this step.
Another reason is that we want to build the best open source wiki with new partners. This is only possible with extensive openness, technically and economically. The module system has been good for us and our customers. However, it is now blocking us from developing MediaWiki further into the most popular Wiki software for businesses. A module system will become too complex and opaque for customers and developers as we grow further. Also, we do not want to lose our way in administration, but rather to concentrate on development, integration and quality assurance.

Radically open source

For this reason too, we are radically opening the development to external developers. They can, from this year, contribute to all BlueSpice extensions, including those which had been previously unavailable. In this way, we open up the project for other developers, accelerate the programming and improve quality assurance.
Last but not least, BlueSpice should become more compatible with SemanticMediaWiki (SMW) so that customers and partners need no longer decide whether to choose SMW or BlueSpice. Using both is already a possibility. But, by the end of the year both worlds should interlock better.

It will be a busy and interesting year. The new version will already be ready for examination and ordering at Cebit. We have already set out the stages which will follow this. We will be moving towards an ecosystem, which is a familiar concept from other open source projects.

We look forward to all your support and cooperation.