In short interviews with our employees we illuminate aspects and questions of our daily work with BlueSpice and our customers. In this article, we will focus on the topic of customizing. An interview with Sabine Gürtler, Team Lead Service & Support at Hallo Welt! GmbH.
In short interviews with our employees we illuminate aspects and questions of our daily work with BlueSpice and our customers. This article deals with the topic of data migration. An Interview with Robert Vogel, Team Lead Product and Software Development at Hallo Welt! GmbH. Continue Reading
The Munich software company Ryte has been using a BlueSpice 3 wiki from Hallo Welt! GmbH for its reference work on digital marketing. The resources maintained in this way are regularly cited in academic theses and make up a large part of the sessions logged on the Ryte website.
“At the start, our developers simply built and maintained a wiki just for us. We had nothing like we have now,” explains Pauline Mitifiot. She is a marketing expert at Ryte GmbH in Munich, a SaaS (Software as a Service) company founded in 2012. Now, Ryte’s wiki has become an important treasury, a leading online resource of its type. In February 2018, the encyclopaedia was transferred to a BlueSpice MediaWiki wiki from Hallo Welt! GmbH. The reason: “the wiki had started to consume too much of our developers’ time and energy. And we needed them to concentrate fully on our product,” said Mitifiot.
Experienced and creative authors already got to know the diagram editor draw.io a long time ago. It is based on a web application, already developed by the company JGraph as free software, and it is already compatible with diverse applications like, for example, Confluence.
draw.io is also available for MediaWiki, making is possible to display processes, elaborate flowcharts and much more and in many ways. This fulfils the desire of many wiki users to create and present clear graphics like flowcharts, process chains and decision trees, working collaboratively in the wiki.
We have had a look around at what interesting skins are available for MediaWiki and here we present those we think are the ten best.
But first, we will say a few words on MediaWiki and skinning in general. When comparing new MediaWiki skins, one always comes back to the following three themes:
- Navigation: Orientation towards mobile applications has significant consequences for the layout and design. It becomes “flatter”. The edit functions are in the background so as not to overload the small screen, and to reduce complexity. In this way, the pages appear more attractive on the web, and the “Mobile First” skins are more handsome, particularly for the reader. A power user wanting to work in the wiki will often find such skins problematic because they need extra clicks to access the functions they need.
- Semantic support: Many wikis use Semantic MediaWiki to work with metadata. Some skins integrate functions from the semantic extension into the skin or customise the layout in such a way that it does not break the optical design.
Let us now look at a few skins.
When working with longer texts, it is not unusual to have to change a common term because it has been written incorrectly or because it is no longer up-to-date. Common word processing software packages like MS Word have a “search and replace” function so that you do not have to go through the whole text and change everything by hand.
There is a similar tool for MediaWiki users called ReplaceText. This is a small but powerful MediaWiki extension allowing you to search for specific combinations of characters, whether it is text, code or spaces, and to replace them both in wiki articles and in article titles. It is also possible to use complex algorithms which recognise patterns in the form of regular expressions so that you can undertake more sophisticated search-and-replace tasks.
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 🙂
Jason Bock works for a company called DSA, which primarily does IT Support for the US Department of Defense. He is responsible for milWiki, a military enterprise wiki started in 2008 to be an „online internal encyclopedia for the US Department of Defence“. Milwiki is one component of an overall suite of DoD social business tools called milSuite. The milWiki alone supports 400.000 users and contains more than 20.000 articles in more than 7.000 categories.
In 2010 Semantic MediaWiki and later Semantic Forms were introduced to milWiki, which had a major impact on the data integrity.
In his talk at the Enterprise MediaWiki Conference 2016 in New York Jason Bock informed about some social aspects they built into the system also implemented by the functions of Semantic Mediawiki.
- Instead of „normal“ wiki user page there is a template/form with certain fields,
- Minimum information of the user like name, foto, skills, location and some tags to match across users,
- Alternatively, the PageNotice extension can add a template with information on acquired points or badges in the header or footer of the user page.
- Customer wanted to have a rating tool like in TripAdvisor
- Elected to go with the SemanticRating extension which places a form on any wiki page generating a subpage for the rating and the review.
- Implemented an template which shows all ratings and reviews in a list attached to the article
- Calculation from all the ratings on the subpages to get an average score of „stars“
- Introduces elements of gamification to the wiki
- Rewards users for creating, editing and gardening efforts
- Special feature: points for users for each additional author who contributes to a page that user created
- Point calculation shown in a sidebox on user page
Automated User Badges
- Manually badges did not work,
- Automated badging system like in Foursquare and ProjectNoah (National Geographic),
- Rewards participation within specific topic areas,
- Helps to identify the experts for certain topics,
- Tap into Semantic Ratings effort to reward users who receive positive reviews on articles.
At the end of the talk Jason shows some very useful code examples concerning the mentioned social functions.
Communication and notification – the end of the classical discussion pages
Another MediaWiki construction site is delivering good news: The MediaWiki Communication System. This concerns the discussion pages. These will soon disappear, in the form we know them now. More precisely: The discussions pages will fundamentally change and merge with the notification system.
The reconstruction of the MediaWiki communications system will take place through two new extensions:
- Echo allows the individual following of changes, gives an overview of the whole system and is a framework for a variety of communication services. Echo is already in Wikipedia as a new notification system.
- Flow makes discussion easier. One can more easily follow discussion processes; answers are shown via Echo. And much more. The aim of these developments is to build up a modern discussion and collaboration system for all Wikimedia projects. An interactive prototype is already online.