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

BlueSpice 2.27.0 released

New BlueSpice release 2.27.0.

Our focus: quality assurance, usability and farming.

We proudly announce today’s stable release of the new BlueSpice for MediaWiki 2.27.0. It is our second release this year and brings new features and numerous optimizations. Above all, it is fully compatible with the long-time support version MediaWiki 1.27.

All detailed information can be found in our BlueSpice Helpdesk:
Notable changes,
Release notes with changelog,
• Installation instructions with installer and without installer,
Update instructions.

We have installed some pretty helpful features. The focus is on characteristics such as quality assurance, usability and farming.

These are the most important new features of BlueSpice pro 2.27.0:

Continue Reading

Agile prototyping: “MediaWiki is like a white sheet of paper for data”

The Wikipedia software MediaWiki is a well known solution for collaborative knowledge platforms. It is less popular, but not less ideal, for the development of prototypes and new platforms.

At this year’s Semantic-MediaWiki-Konferenz (SMWCon) in Frankfurt, our Hallo Welt! Technical Manager Markus Glaser talked about this connection between MediaWiki and prototyping. Here are the slides of his presentation.

Markus Glaser started his presentation explaining different forms of prototyping. His introduction was followed by showing MediaWikis richness of functionalities. By combining and expanding these functionalities, you can develop new and very specific applications. MediaWiki already provides a large toolkit, which allows quick adjustments without having to program completely new functions.

The semantic MediaWiki extension packages, which can be used to capture and query metadata, are certainly worth mentioning. Those are very useful, if for example data models are being modeled or user interfaces and operating elements still have to be positioned. Of course BlueSpice for MediaWiki supplies a wide range of options. Responsive skins like Chameleon are the basis for stylish surfaces. And with Lua you have a script language, with which the construction of a page can be designed very dynamically.

That means MediaWiki is an ideal base to build agile new knowledge platforms. The flexibility of MediaWiki means a great advantage in time. You don‘t have to be a programmer to build these prototypes, because a lot of these things can already be done with the  integrated tools of MediaWiki. Like this you get a working system at an early stage, with which you can gather important experiences.

Nevertheless users should be aware that, despite the variety of integrated tools, developing a new knowledge platform is always complex and cost-intensive: planning, meetings and adjustments take time. After the development of an alpha or beta version, individual functionalities have to be professionalized and programmed independently.

You might say that the development of a stable productive system takes as much time as the development of the beta version for the first test users. However, the time and the risks of development are significantly reduced with the prototyping based on MediaWiki.

BlueSpice Release 2.27.0 – beta version released

Say hello to the new BlueSpice free for MediaWiki 2.27.0 beta version!

Have you already tested it? Well then go! Since last week, there is the BlueSpice 2.27.0-beta, a minor and maintenance version of BlueSpice free, which can be downloaded to tested at SourceForge. Now we need your help!

Download the beta version and test it. Please report bugs, patches and other feedback. Any kind of feedback (the more constructive, the better) is welcome at our SourceForge forum or per email to support@hallowelt.com. We look forward to your opinions and appreciate your help!

Try some of our interesting new features like:

  • Page Assignments: Assign poeple and groups of people to pages, e.g. as responsible editors. Supersedes ResponsibleEditors.
Page Assignments
Page Assignments
  • Disable users: Instead of user deletion, you can now disable the users while keeping their full record.
  • Support your admin: certain user groups can now assign users to groups without having to be sysops. It is also possible to allow users access to a selection of administrative tools without having to be sysops.
  • Namespace-specific notifications: notifications are now much more configurable. Get notified about changes in the wiki on a namespace basis.
Namespace-specific notifications
Namespace-specific notifications
  • Track usage statistics: know how often a certain feature is used in your wiki.
  • Improvements of the user experience: confirmation dialogues are more unobtrusive now.
  • FlexiSkin: manage uploaded images.
  • HitCounter: Restores the hit count functionality missing in MediaWiki core since MediaWiki 1.25.
  • Testsystem mode: visually indicate when a wiki is a testing system.

For detailed release notes see our BlueSpice Helpdesk.

Have fun testing!

Many new features: The BlueSpice Demo has been completely updated

To all the curious people, who like trying new things: the BlueSpice Demo has been completely updated.

With regard to the needs of our customers we updated the BlueSpice Demo and improved its shape. We really got going and improved the Demo version significantly. It was subject to a substantial revision.

The new BlueSpice Demo is online.
The new BlueSpice Demo is online.

Practical applications

Due to lots of new contents and a developed structure, we put the focus on the most important applications of the software: Knowledge and Quality Management. With the new navigation these topics are found immediately and new users can see the usefulness and the practical effects of the BlueSpice software from the beginning on.

If you don’t want to miss illustrative flow charts or process maps within your Wiki, try the new Demo version. It shows perfectly what the BlueSpice pro software for MediaWiki is able to do.

Using Semantics

New features and a lot of additional semantic information provide the user a variety of options for different queries. There is for example a query, which gives you a list of documents for Quality Management. These documents can be used to accelerate processes, improve workflow and guarantee a high quality of work.

A variety of queries can simplify your work, for example for Quality Management.
A variety of queries can simplify your work, for example for Quality Management.

New BlueSpice function Flowchart Maker

The new BlueSpice Demo offers plenty of functions. Expand your articles by using graphics and videos, insert complex mathematical formula and add interactive elements like checklists or drop-down menus. From now on, you can also create and edit complex flow charts.

With the new Flowchart Maker, you have various possibilities of displaying processes or something similar. You might want to try this application with our example of the relocation of an IT employee.

The new flowchart maker offers various possibilities of displaying processes.
The new flowchart maker offers various possibilities of displaying processes.

Try it and see for yourself!

The new version of the BlueSpice Demo can be found here.

We are looking forward to your feedback.

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 🙂

End of the world? Let’s go running!

Once again, our BlueSpice developers proved that not even the apocalypse can stop them from reaching their goal: ignoring the continuous downpour on wednesday, an elect group of our team went on the annual REWAG-Firmenlauf. Together with over 1600 other enthusiasts, they braved the rain for 6,8 kilometres, and reached the finish line – soaking wet, but happy 🙂

 

firmenlauf_01 firmenlauf_02 firmenlauf_03

Military Wiki: Standard Profile, Article Rating and Gamification

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.

Standard Profiles

  • 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.

Article Rating/Reviews

  • 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“

Point System

  • 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.

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.