Monday, October 1, 2007

In praise of MediaWiki

Well, something new to deal with every day... Or every week at least. The latest wonder I've come across was MediaWiki. Don't laugh - you may have had a Wiki site for years but me - up until very recently I had only been a Wiki user, not a Wiki administrator.

What can I say - this is a very nice piece of software. Installs right off the bat, easy to administer. I read the code a bit and it mostly makes sense right away too - which is, obviously, quite nice to know.

There is only one drawback that I have discovered thus far - it does not seem to be configured to search within PDF files by default, and that is exactly the functionality we need. Under Linux one has a very nice text extracftor for the purpose called pdftotext(1) that comes as part of xpdf. So technically it should not be difficult to implement this functionality under MediaWiki though I am generally somewhat reluctant to touch the code I don't own. The best I could get out of the users' forum was a suggestion to use the Lucene Search software but that looks like a whole can of worms in and of itself - and is not even guaranteed to actually do what I need done. But I guess this way or the other I will get through this one.

If any of you have any relevant experience - please advise, and your advice will as always be appreciated. But this little diffuculty notwithstanding MediaWiki really is very nice technology that does allow one to have a Wiki-style reference site up and running in under an hour.

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