How to create website on MediaWiki

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MediaWiki
MediawikiiLogo.jpg
Developer: MediaWiki Foundation
Type: Wiki CMS
Initial release: January 25, 2002
Language: PHP and JavaScript
Operational system: multi-platform
Latest version: 1.28.2 Download
Rating: 5 star rating.png
Website: www.mediawiki.org

If you decided to create your own web encyclopedia, online journal or blog, then MediaWiki application is the best solution for it. MediaWiki can be downloaded absolutely for free and installation process is quick and easy. You don't need any specific knowledge or technical education to launch your own wiki website.

Mediawiki is popular software among webmasters, because of its simple and free usage as well as availability to install it in many languages and download a lot of additional extensions that allows to create professional website. Today there are thousands websites made by wiki technology that are quite famous.

This article is a detailed manual of MediaWiki installation as well as describtion how to create articles, use templates and install additional extensions. If you have extra information or some questions, feel free to post your comments at discussion page of the article.

About MediaWiki

Mediawiki — a free software open source wiki package written in PHP, originally for use on Wikipedia. It is now also used by several other projects of the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation and by many other wiki websites.[1] WikiJournal runs at MediaWiki application (known as CMS among webmasters) as well.

The CMS is very convenient for writing different kinds of articles. The main difficulty during articles creation is the usage of wiki markup at WikiEditor that provides specific framework with a set of feature-based modules, each of which can be selectively enabled or disabled, aiming to improve the user experience of editing and creating pages with so called wikitext. There is extra "VisualEditor" extension that provides simple tools to create or edit articles, especially for those who isn't familiar with wiki text. But this extension requires some technical knowledge to install it to your wiki website.

MediaWiki installation

MediaWiki installation process consists of three main steps:

  1. Download Mediawiki software from the official website. You can choose following versions: "stable" or "LTS" version. it means Long Term Support version.
  2. You should upload files to server of your hosting provider. You can use FTP client for that.
  3. After that you shall visit your website to go through online installation process which is described below.

Installation process

  • After all files of the software are uploaded to server of your hosting provider, you shall visit home page of your wiki website (the address of a domain name), afterwards installation wizard gives options to install Mediawiki. Press "set up the wiki" to start installation. Then select the installation language and language of your wiki website. Next the system checks the compatibility of PHP version, MySQL and other server settings. If all is alright, the following message will be displayed: "The environment has been checked. You can install MediaWiki", then you should click "Next" button. If the compatibility test fails, you should contact technical support of your hosting provider, they will assist to resolve such issue in this case.
  • The next step is to create and configure MySQL database. During MediaWiki installation you should indicate the type, name, username and password of database. If something is not clear here, you can click "Help" for detailed information.
  • Next, you should customize the site: provide its name and administrator information (name, password and email address). During this step you can also configure following options: user rights on creating and editing articles, copyrights, licenses, e-mail settings, install various additional extensions and option to make available uploading files to the server) or can choose "Stop, install wiki" and you start installing wiki website with standard configuration. During all steps there are help links for additional information how to set configuration.
  • After installation (it takes few seconds) you see following message "Congratulations! You have successfully installed MediaWiki". After that you should download LocalSettings.php file and upload it to the root folder on your host server. This file keeps all basic settings of wiki website.
  • Afterwards visit homepage of your website and you see the Main Page with following message "MediaWiki has been successfully installed." On this same page, you can go to the links where you can read more about settings and options, how to work with this CMS, customize and suit it to your needs.

How to make new pages

WikiEditor has basic tools for page creation.

New pages or articles are made at WikiEditor by wiki markup. Wiki markup (also known as wikitext language or wikicode) is a lightweight markup language used to write pages at wiki-based websites (such as Wikipedia) that is a simplified/alternative/intermediate to HTML. Its purpose is to be converted by wiki software into HTML, which, in turn, is served to web browsers.[2]

There are several ways to start a new article:

  • First one: you can write article name in search bar and if there isn't such article on your website, the system offers you to create a page with this name. When you click the link to create a new page you see WikiEditor bar that provides with special tools for making new articles by wiki code.
  • Second one: You can download and install InputBox extension helps to start creating articles by entering a page name into the box.

During article creation WikiEditor has tools to make a page just like you want. It's very practical tool to create internal links of wiki website. You should put any word or phrase into square brackets - [[]]. After submitting the page you see such words has links. If there isn't such page on wiki website the words are in red colour otherwise in blue. If you click red links the system proposes to create such page.

To launch WikiEditor at website you shall insert following code to LocalSettings.php following configuration:

wfLoadExtension( 'WikiEditor' );
# Enables use of WikiEditor by default but still allow users to disable it in preferences
$wgDefaultUserOptions['usebetatoolbar'] = 1;
$wgDefaultUserOptions['usebetatoolbar-cgd'] = 1;
# Displays the Preview and Changes tabs
$wgDefaultUserOptions['wikieditor-preview'] = 0;
# Displays the Publish and Cancel buttons on the top right side
$wgDefaultUserOptions['wikieditor-publish'] = 0;

If you use Mediawiki version 1.25 and less you should to connect extension in LocalSetting file this way:

require_once ("$IP/extensions/WikiEditor/WikiEditor.php");

Using of templates in articles

Template — is the special informative thematic block that can be used as a standard texts in several articles on similar topic. Convenience of template usage is that they can be installed to various pages and display main information about a topic. Templates can be also used for navigation panels among articles of one common topic.

Templates are created as a separate page with its own namespace "Template:Template name" for example: Template:CMS - such template is used at all articles about content management system just like this one. Click the link to look through the core of template and understand how it is made. So to start making template you should indicate its name, e.g. Template:Test and inside of the page you should indicate what information should be used in it like that: {{{title}}} - the title of the template. Then it is possible to use the template at all pages using this code:

{{Test
|title = 
}}

After equal sign you should put some text for displaying in the article. As long as you create templates a lot of categories can be done as well as images etc, depending what information you would like to show in articles. It is possible to create dynamic and big templates that use images, tables and set how it all should look like on a page configuring CSS settings. General settings on design can be made on special page in mediawiki at Mediawiki:Common.css. Example templates can be found at any wiki website including WikiJournal or Wikipedia and they are free to be downloaded.

Find the manual on creating and using of Templates at official website.

How to create categories

There is a possibility to include article to some category. It very useful tool to categorize your wiki website for better navigation system. During editing article you should put following code at the end of page - [[Category:]]. Several categories can be included to one page this way. After that the link to category appears at the bottom of the page. If the page of this category doesn't exist the link to it will be in red. To create a category you should simply click it and create as a simple page.

How to install other skins

Mediawiki developed other skins for its application:

  • Vector - Default skin. Now it is installed to WikiJournal as well as to Wikipedia
  • MonoBook - Earlier it was default skin for Mediawiki
  • Modern
  • Cologne Blue

There are also other skins that were developed by volunteers. You can watch them and download at Mediawiki official website. If you wish to install some skin you should copy it to "skins" folder. There is also detailed manual how to install skins to your wiki website

To set a default skin you shall have this code at LocalSettings.php file:

$wgDefaultSkin = "MonoBook";

If you would like to change skin to one of standrd skins change the name of default skin to:

$wgDefaultSkin = "Modern";
$wgDefaultSkin = "CologneBlue";

As soon as this changes are made you will see that skin of your website also is changed. Mediawiki standard skins looks so:

MediaWiki settings

Extensions installing

Mediawiki developpers as well as other programmers develop additional extensions that provide extra tools and options for using the application. There are a lot of different extensions that can be found and downloaded at the official website with its full description of function.

As soon as an extension is downloaded and uploaded to extension folder at your server. After that the extension should be included to LocalSettings.php file. You find manuals to each extension on its description page that provide how to use and install it.

MediaWiki upgrade

Mediawiki software is upgraded time to time by developers, they improves its core and removes bugs in the code. It is also recommended to upgrade mediawiki version as soon as there is a new stable version of it, but it isn't always necessary. There are several ways to upgrade mediawiki. We describe the simplest one. You need some FTP client to upload new version mediawiki files and to go through upgrade process using any browser. To do it you shall follow this steps:

  • Rename LocalSettings.php in the root directory, for example to LocalSettings_2.php.
  • Check the compatibility of PHP and MySQL versions at your server.
  • After that your wiki website will not be available and the system will ask to upload LocalSettings.php file to root directory, but you shouldn't do it.
  • Download all necessary directories:
1) Folder "images", where all images were uploaded;
2) Folder "extensions", with all additional extensions that you installed previously (after upgrading you shall also update all extension for compatibility with new mediawiki version);
3) Save MySQL database (you can do it through panel at you hosting provider or directly at phpMyAdmin;
  • Download new stable mediawiki version from the official website and unpack it locally at your computer.
  • Connect to your server using FTP client and upload new files replacing old ones (except images directory)
  • Visit your website with this URL: mymediawikisite.ru/mw-config/
  • You will be welcomed by Mediawiki installation wizard and you shall install mediawiki again and indicate the same information on MySQL database administrator and its password.
  • Rename back LocalSettings.php file.
  • After all this procedures your website should be run on new mediawiki version.

Please note that after upgrading you can face some bugs and unstable work of the platform. You can resolve them at Mediawiki support desk. You are also advised to read manual on upgrading at official page.

Conclusion

Mediawiki is on of the best content management systems on the web. It can be installed very fast and easy. If you have any difficulties during mediawiki installation or its usage, feel free to post your message at the discussion page of the article.

Other relevant articles

Notes

  1. About MediaWiki
  2. Wikipedia about wiki markup