Browse Tag by Skin

The top 10 MediaWiki skins

Maximal mobility and responsive design are central when developing MediaWiki skins. Image: Kelson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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:

  1. Mobile: How and how well do the skins support mobile applications? Many skin developers use standard HTML, CSS and JavaScript frameworks like Bootstrap or Zurb, to develop “Mobile First” skins.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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Advent calendar 6: Changing the links in the TopBarMenu

6-Advent-Calendar-TopBarMenu

In BlueSpice you have a second navigation at the top of the page. This area is named TopBarMenu. Wiki and blog are set and linked by default but as an administrator you can set different internal or external links. It is also possible to structure links as a dropdown.

Open the page „MediaWiki:TopBarMenu“ and enter names of internal wiki pages or external links.
This is how you build up the links:

* Systemtitle|URL|Displaytitle

URL can be a name of a wiki article or an external link.

For example:

* Wiki|Wiki
* Blog|Wiki Blog
** BlueSpice Blog|https://blog.bluespice.com|BlueSpice Blog
** Hallo Welt Blog|https://blog.hallowelt.com|Hallo Welt Blog

In the wiki admin preferences at the section „menu customizer“ you can define e.g. the number of nested layers.

MediaWiki Skins – A visual feast

The structure and design of most wikis looks like Wikipedia, which is now over ten years old. It does not have to be like this. If you want to give your wiki a different look, you need to use a different skin. Changing the appearance of a MediaWiki (and also BlueSpice) installation also changes how it handles. I have collected together a few tips and ideas here and I also explain the steps planned for the BlueSpice skin.

Update 2017: Please see also the recent article The top 10 MedaWiki skins.

MediaWiki is becoming more diverse

Look at these wikimedia projects which all use the current “Vector” skin. Vector was developed in 2009 for MediaWiki 1.16+ as part of the Wikipedia Usability Initiative and improves on its predecessor Monobook, giving a clearer presentation and better usability. In addition, some special functions can be downloaded as vector extensions.

MediaWiki is already working on the further development of the standard skins. The next stage, the Athena skin, will support mobile devices, amongst other things. You can get a visual impression of Athena here. Continue Reading