Raw Thought: Do We Need New Software?

This article has been withdrawn; it was published before I was finished with it.

created 2006-09-20T15:41:33 #

Letters to the editor

I've read all seven articles, and pretty much agree with everything you said. One point of clarification - MediaWiki is actually shockingly easy to install. I say shockingly because, as you pointed out, that's the portion the developers have the least incentive to improve, yet it's been quite good since at least early 2005 (the first time I installed it).

As for the complete rewrite in Python - awesomtacular. I'm all for it, and I'm not even a Python programmer (mostly Perl, smatterings of Ruby, but I respect Python).

One problem I'm having at my current company is that part of our site's functionality includes a wiki, and we tried to meet that need by integrating MediaWiki into the rest of our site. The result is a disaster, because while MediaWiki might be a fine application, it is by no means a module. It cannot be "plugged in" to anything with any degree of sanity (I'm looking at you, proliferation of global variables!).

created by Ofer Nave on 2006-09-20T17:03:20 #

Hey Aaron,

That would be Wikipedia's second total rewrite of its software if anyone attempted it, which would be marginally insane. There are oodles of other wiki engines in the world; thousands actually. You could try a spike of porting all the data and the UI skins from Wikipedia into one or two of your favourite engines and see what needs to be added, changed, adapted to get the basic wiki engine working for Wikipedia.

Doing a pure 2.0, you may end up in the same place as where MediaWiki is, or worse, as 2.0s tend to go. If you're going to start anywhere, you should start with a project that already has matured and has active developers.

MoinMoin is the most popular Python wiki engine, by the way. I'd suggest you start there.

created by Sunir shah on 2006-09-20T18:45:24 #

This does sound excellent, my only issue is that Python is not yet a mature language, and other interpretted languages are far better.

created by [not actually] kevin Marks on 2006-09-20T19:24:41 #

What about starting with the excellent Trac wiki (trac.edgewall.com)?

created by phil jones on 2006-09-20T20:25:06 #

Trac is hardly excellent - its installation procedure is crap (amusingly given mediawiki's ease) since by default you don't get users, which are an essential part of spam protection. So a lot of Trac default installs end up with buckets of spam.

created by James on 2006-09-20T21:46:53 #

I agree with almost everything you've said so far in your Wikipedia essays, but this one finishes with quite a wild assertion that the code needs rewriting from scratch and in Python to boot.

It may well be true, but unlike everything else you've written there's no justification. Is there any chance that you could outline exactly what the need for the rewrite is and why Python is the only logical choice?

created by Gareth Simpson on 2006-09-20T22:02:18 #

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Aaron Swartz (me@aaronsw.com)