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Re: Editing in the Wiki

From: Rinke Hoekstra <hoekstra@uva.nl>
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2008 11:03:55 +0100
Cc: "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>, public-owl-wg@w3.org
Message-Id: <0C7E4782-C3F0-4194-857C-65922C9A1820@uva.nl>
To: Ian Horrocks <ian.horrocks@comlab.ox.ac.uk>

You could try [1], but it seems to be discontinued, and I don't think  
it is cross-platform.

Otherwise you could run a local copy of MediaWiki (requires webserver  
+ MySQL) and import/export MediaWiki pages in XML format (see the  
Special:Export and Special:Import pages)... import is usually only  
allowed for Sysops.

A full mirroring would require a regular database dump to an  
accessible location, a dump of the wiki's (non location specific)  
configuration files, and a dump of the uploaded images and documents  

For every offline edit, you would then have to load the database into  
a locally running MySQL instance, overwrite your local wiki  
configuration files and the images/documents.

In short: you'll enter maintenance hell.

There are (I believe) other wiki's that allow you to edit wiki pages  
directly through an RCS compliant version control system (such as CVS  
or SVN). Google's wiki does this, and (I think) TWiki allows this as  
well. These wiki's store pages as plain text files (i.e. not in a  

But I guess moving to a different wiki is not really an option.


[1] http://examples.anotherwebcom.com/wikis/MediaWiki/Category:Offline_MediaWiki_Text_Editor

On 7 jan 2008, at 20:52, Ian Horrocks wrote:

> I'm not proposing it as a solution to Peter's problem, but I  
> wondered how easy it would be to install a local wiki, and perhaps  
> even a mirror of the WG wiki, so that I could work on wiki pages/ 
> documents off-line and upload them when I have a connection. This  
> would solve what is for me one of the more annoying aspects of the  
> wiki -- the fact that it is useless without network connectivity.
> Ian
> On 3 Jan 2008, at 09:50, Peter F. Patel-Schneider wrote:
>> I have suffered with editing in the Wiki for quite some time now.   
>> Here
>> are some comments on the Wiki editing process (as opposed to  
>> editing as
>> related to the Wiki language) and some suggestions for changes.
>> The Wiki editing system has at least the following problems with  
>> respect
>> to editing WD documents:
>> - The Wiki diff mechanism does only a textual diff, ignoring the fact
>>  that whitespace can be compressed and that newlines are often just
>>  whitespace.  So a diff may be much harder to decipher than a simple
>>  description of a change.
>> - The Wiki diffs are only between two versions of the document,  
>> whereas
>>  the changes required to implement an issue may be interleaved with
>>  many other changes.
>> - Direct editing (i.e., editing in the provided text box) is not
>>  adequate.  This leads to the common practice of editing pages or
>>  sections in an external editor.  The export and import can produce
>>  non-visible artifacts, which are then picked up in the diffs.
>> - The Wiki editing model is not designed for speculative editing.   
>> All
>>  changes are reflected in a single branch.  All editing must be  
>> made on
>>  the Wiki itself.  It is not possible to have private copies, e.g.,
>>  editor's drafts.  This means that it is not possible to "freeze" a
>>  document (e.g., for publication) and continue to work on it at the
>>  same time.  No, you cannot use old versions for this - freezing does
>>  *not* mean that the document does not get changed as there may be
>>  changes needed to support the publication process.
>> - The Wiki editing system appears to be designed for light-weight
>>  concurrent editing.  It is adequate for recording who did what when,
>>  but not adequate for recording why.  It is much too easy to forget  
>> to
>>  enter the description of changes.  Contrariwise, it is impossible to
>>  fix these descriptions after the fact.
>> A reaonable editing system would have *at least* the following  
>> changes
>> from the Wiki editing system:
>> - A user-entered description of the changes would be *required* for  
>> each
>>  change.
>> - The "minor edit" flag would have to be entered for each change.
>> - Change descriptions could be changed after the fact.
>> - Speculative changes (i.e., a different branch) would be possible,  
>> and
>>  could be merged into the main branch.
>> - Diffs could be generated based on a set of changes.
>> - Diffs would be insensitive to non-visible changes in whitespace.
>>  (Unfortunately the Wiki language makes determination of non- 
>> visibility
>>  hard.)
>> If the first two changes above were made to the Wiki editing system  
>> then
>> the WG could proceed in the following limping manner:
>> - Each change would be for a particular purpose.
>> - Changes related to an issue would have the issue number in their
>>  description.
>> - Changes made solely for editorial reasons would so state, and  
>> would be
>>  flagged as minor.
>> - Other changes would have a description of the purpose of the  
>> change.
>> - Issue resolutions would just point to which documents were changed.
>> - Publication would be approved for a document and not a particular
>>  version of a document.  Non-minor changes to a document during the
>>  publication process would have to be approved by the WG chairs.
>> This proposed process is definitely not ideal, but appears to me to  
>> be
>> acceptable and needs only minor changes to the Wiki editing system.
>> (It turns out that it is possible for the WG to partly "implement"  
>> the
>> first change, by requiring that all WG members change their  
>> Preferences
>> -> Editing -> Prompt me when entering a blank edit summary to on.
>> Unfortunately, the way this preference works is particularly  
>> annoying,
>> and much too easy to bypass.)
>> Peter F. Patel-Schneider
>> Bell Labs Research

Drs. Rinke Hoekstra

Email: hoekstra@uva.nl    Skype:  rinkehoekstra
Phone: +31-20-5253499     Fax:   +31-20-5253495
Web:   http://www.leibnizcenter.org/users/rinke

Leibniz Center for Law,          Faculty of Law
University of Amsterdam,            PO Box 1030
1000 BA  Amsterdam,             The Netherlands
Received on Tuesday, 8 January 2008 10:04:00 UTC

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