There are lots of possibilities for exporting MediaWiki articles as PDF documents.
Some further developments I want to outline here:
Wiki as the central source of knowledge
There are many good reasons for supplying a Wiki with a PDF export facility:
Extracts, logs, check lists or short descriptions may be needed on paper or may need to be sent via e-mail.
Whole topics or areas of knowledge may need to be made into brochures or books so they can be available, for example, on the website for users, service providers and partners, or offline for field staff.
Intermediary versions of handbooks might need to be kept, for example, to supplement contracts and invitations to tender or as documents giving a basis for auditing.
Using a wiki as a central medium here has the obvious advantage that rather than having innumerable PDF documents flying around, the texts can be developed in the wiki and kept up to date. The PDF export function will then give out the most up to date version.
How to create my first PDF export
If you want to add a PDF export facility to a wiki, first work out whether you just want the readers to be able to export individual articles as PDFs or if you want to give them the opportunity to put together a selection of articles in a “book”. The second option is a more technologically complex.
Furthermore, decide whether the firm’s CI should be used and how far you want to go with providing the user templates. Will the PDFs always have the same layout? Do they have, for example, the same coversheet? As soon as this is decided you can get started.
MediaWiki has no PDF export facility in the standard software. However, you can find a whole set of PDF extensions at MediaWiki.org with individual installation instructions: Continue Reading
In this article I want to answer the most frequently asked questions relating to installing MediaWiki. But first, a question in return: what is the purpose of the wiki? Is it just a test installation or is it to be used productively?
Installing a local test system
For testing, I recommend installing MediaWiki locally on your own computer. The installation process of a wiki is always the same. Firstly you need to set up and adapt the environment in which the wiki will run, this is primarily the webserver and the database as the case may be. Then you copy the wiki software files to the right place and set up the configuration data, either by hand or automatically, on the system environment. The most important things here are entering the right paths, language and connection to the database.
You can use the environment XAMPP for your local installation. Installation instructions can be found on the site mediawiki.org. I know small companies which run their wikis just with XAMPP and make them available on the intranet.
Installation as a productive system
To use a wiki productively in your business and organisation, however, I advise you to install it in a professional environment. XAMPP is not designed for professional use. Here, you need to decide whether the wiki will be made available on the web, or for internal use within the business. In any case, you need storage space available on the network. The system requirements can be found, for example, here at BlueForge (German website), or again in the official requirements list on mediawiki.org, where, of course, one can also find the official installation instructions.
On the net, there are also useful video instructions, like this one:
Sometimes, it is also worth getting webspace with MediaWiki already fully installed from a webhost. Almost all the larger providers offer such services. And of course, cloud providers are preparing to include MediaWiki in their portfolios too. One is, however, not so flexible with these pre-packaged offers when it comes to updating and extending the software. Service providers like Hallo Welt! – Medienwerkstatt organise webspace, installation, extensions and maintenance of the software.
Here are a few tips to help decide where the software should be:
Migration: The files from your test wiki can be migrated to a productive system at any time. Generally, the effort needed to relocate a MediaWiki’s data is manageable.
Data saving: It is, however, very important to back up the files from a productive wiki regularly. Internal IT departments or webhosts regularly mirror the server so that it is possible to reset it to an earlier date. Generally, the more often the data is backed up and the longer the back ups are kept, the higher the hosting costs.
Test system: When making an installation with a lot of special adaptations and extensions, we recommend setting up a test system which will be synchronised with the productive system. New developments can be brought on to and taken off the test system before one puts them into practice on the productive system. In addition, one has a redundant system which can be used if the productive system goes offline.
Connectivity: If the wiki is to be connected to a central authentication system or other internal software, the system is generally installed on the intranet, as, for example, connecting to the LDAP server over the web is not possible or only with difficulty. If the whole infrastructure is on a cloud, it is different. One can, of course, combine the wiki with all the applications available on the cloud.
Compatibility and upgrades: There are innumerable extensions for MediaWiki, but not all extensions work with every version. For this reason, it is not always a good idea to use the newest version of MediaWiki. MediaWiki has a very short publishing cycle of only three months. For this reason, I recommend making an annual or biennial upgrade, in between introducing the newest safety patches. It gets problematic when an in-house developer changes the MediaWiki core. These changes are overwritten when upgrading and this can lead to undesirable side effects requiring significant support work. In order to guarantee reliability when upgrading, our developers for the BlueSpice for MediaWiki distribution, for example, avoid any core-hacks.
Extending with BlueSpice
Last but not least: For those who want to extend their MediaWiki with BlueSpice free there are installation instructions here for the freely downloadable software. Generally, MediaWiki is first installed and updated and then the newest version of BlueSpice is put over the top. Please make sure here too that you use the BlueSpice version compatible with the MediaWiki release you are using.
How to upload and insert images in BlueSpice for MediaWiki? Have a look at our Tutorial. Here you can see how it works:
1. Insert image by using WYSIWYG editor
1.1 Press edit, change to WYSIWYG editor and use the insert image tool.
1.2 To insert an image, pick an image from the library panel on the left-hand side. You can use the filter function to look for a special image. Select the file you want to insert into the wiki article.
1.3 One the right-hand side you will find details. Underneath adjustment you can set the position of an image in the text (none, left, center, right). Also you can change image size and add alternative text (legend) on the top of the insert image window. Click ok.
1.4 Then you will see the image in WYSIWYG. Click save page.
2. Insert image as thumbnail
2.1 Follow steps 1.1 to 1.3 onward.
2.2 Choose preview picture in decoration opportunities (none, preview picture, frame, border). Click ok.
2.3 Click save page.
3. Have a look at Wikicode view, upload and insert image
2.1 Press edit. If there is an image in the article, you will see the image code in the Wikicode view. For example [[Image:example.jpg|200px|left|thumb|BlueSpice]]
2.2 Use the insert image tool. You will find it in the WYSIWYG view as well as in the Wikicode view.
2.3 On the right-hand side you will find the uploader. Browse and select your favorite file. If necessary you can change the files’s target name or further information on the file. Click on upload file.
2.4 To insert the image, pick the image from the library panel on the left-hand side. Select the image you want to insert into the wiki article. Add adjustment, decoration, image size and alternative text. Click ok. Then save page.
How to upload and insert files in BlueSpice for MediaWiki? Have a look at our Tutorial. Here you can see how it works:
1. Upload and insert file by using WYSIWYG editor
1.1 Press edit, change to WYSIWYG editor and use the insert file tool.
1.2 Click on upload, browse and select your favorite file. If necessary you can change the files’s target name. Click on upload file.
1.3 To insert the file, pick the file from the library panel on the left-hand side. Select the file you want to insert into the wiki article. Click ok.
1.4 You will see the file link in WYSIWYG. To change the description, use the Wikicode view. There you see a file link that looks like this: [[Media:filename.pdf]]. To add a different name, use [[Media:filename.pdf|example]]. Click save page. Then the file description is shown as “example”. When you click on the link you get to the document.
2. Upload and insert file via upload file tool
2.1 Use the widget bar to go to the toolbox. Click on upload file.
2.2 On the top of the page you will find the first steps description. Underneath you will find the upload interface link and some information on the file formats that you’re allowed to upload.
2.3 Browse and select your favorite file. If necessary you can change the files’s target name or further information on the file. Click on upload file.
2.4 Go to the page where you want to insert the file. Click on edit.
2.5 Even if you are in the Wikicode view you can use the Upload and Insert File tool. Click on insert file. Look for your uploaded file on the left-hand side. To find it faster you can use the filter function on the top. Found it? Click on the file and then click ok.
2.6 To change the description, follow steps 1.4 onward.