MediaWiki, Wiki News

Cite this UBC Wiki page

We’ve added a new extension on the UBC Wiki which creates citations in a variety of different formats for any page.

To use it, look for a new link called “Cite this page” under the toolbox in the left-side column.  Clicking on the link will take you to a Special:Cite page which automatically generates citations for the page in a variety of formats.  You can then copy a formatted citation and paste it where ever you like (into a paper, report, citation management software, etc).

Here’s an example of it in action for the UBC Twitter Accounts Page.  One interesting thing to note is that the hyperlinks in the citations do not go directly to the live page, but instead point to the “current revision” from the page history.  Thus, when people follow the link in your citation, they’ll see same version of the article as you saw it when you cited it.

MediaWiki, Wiki News

Adding Widgets to the Wiki

The MediaWiki Widgets extension was recently installed on the UBC Wiki. Widgets allow users to embed content and applications from other web services directly into their wiki pages.

For example, Wolfram|Alpha allows users to build complex data calculators based on Wolfram|Alpha queries. These calculators can then be embedded as widgets into a UBC Wiki Page. Likewise, a slide presentation hosted on Google Presentations or a pdf document hosted on SlideShare can be embedded into the Wiki.

Please visit the the UBC Wiki Widget Help page for more information on how to use widgets and to see which widgets have been installed on the wiki. If you are interested in having a specific widget installed on the wiki (or have developed one yourself), please let us know.

More information on MediaWiki Widgets can be found at

MediaWiki, Wiki News

Testers Needed for New Wiki Embed Plug-in

The CTLT at UBC is in the process of developing a new version of the Wiki Append plug-in and we are seeking people to help out with the early testing. The new plug-in (to be called “Wiki Embed”) will allow pages from any wiki running on the MediaWiki platform to be embedded into a WordPress page. As the wiki page gets updated and edited, the changes can be pushed out to the WordPress page so that it always shows a live view of the most current page. As part of the added functionality of the new version, users will be able to customize embedded links by setting specific target urls or choosing to have new WordPress pages created on the fly.

For more information on how to download an alpha version of the plug-in and install it, please see this blog post.

MediaWiki, Wiki News

Using the UBC Wiki as a Content Management System

The new UBC eLearning site recently went live and part of its content is being managed in the UBC Wiki. For example, the source of the eLearning toolkit page is this UBC Wiki page.

The Wiki Append WordPress plug-in allows pages from any wiki running on the MediaWiki platform to be embedded into a WordPress page. As the wiki page gets updated and edited, the changes will be pushed out to the wordpress page so that it always shows a live view of the most current page.

Using the UBC Wiki as a content management system (CMS) makes sense if you have content that needs to be periodically updated by multiple people. Instead of having to wait for the appropriate web person to make the changes, content can be added or edited on the fly as it is needed. The wiki comes with built in safety features as well; the ability to rollback changes means that mistakes can easily be fixed and that content is never lost.

This screencast from the University of Calgary give a brief overview of the Wiki Append plugin.


Learning by Doing, Training by Tinkering

I installed a local version of MediaWiki on my laptop today. MediaWiki is the software platform on which the UBC Wiki runs and I wanted to go through this process for a couple of different reasons: First, I hope to be able to do some experimentation with the UBC Wiki without having to bother the development guys who keep it running and healthy. Second, I really want to get a better grasp of how MediaWiki works behind the scenes. Afterall, while knowing how to drive a car is often all the knowledge you need, having a basic understanding of how the engine works can be the difference between a good day and a really expensive one.

At any rate, installing MediaWiki was much easier than expected. MediaWiki is a web application and to get it to run on a laptop, you need to have a program that can act as a localized web server, such as MAMP. After installing MAMP, I downloaded the latest version of MediaWiki (the 1.16 beta that has the new and sleek vector skin). I saved the MediaWiki files in the MAMP htdocs folders and then I just followed the basic steps outlined here.

It was quick and painless process and already I’ve begun to get a better idea of how the UBC Wiki is configured and what sort of effort it would take to add additional extensions. As I gain a further understanding of how the engine behind the UBC Wiki works, I hope to gain a clearer picture of it’s potential and how to keep it better organized. And, just as my folks never wanted me to tinker under the hood of their car, its good to have my own copy on which I can learn.