Preface to the 2nd edition
Working with MediaWiki was first published in November 2012, and it has since undergone two rewrites: the first, the "2nd printing", in April 2014 and the second one, which has been labeled the 2nd edition, now. Given the rate of change in the software, two to three years seems to be the amount of time before a book such as this starts to feel like an outdated relic. (It's also true that no other MediaWiki book has been published since 2010, but that's another story. As an author, a total lack of competition can be considered either good news or bad news, depending on how you look at it.)
The 2nd printing had changes to around 25% of the pages, but this new edition is even more of a radical overhaul, with whole chapters removed or rearranged, many updated images, and a new foreword, introduction and afterword. This overhaul seemed necessary due to a variety of changes in the MediaWiki software, particularly in its extensions. The VisualEditor extension, which was still somewhat clunky in 2014, works much better now, and is in use across many MediaWiki installations. The same is true of Flow, which is replacing LiquidThreads as the threaded comment tool of choice. Elasticsearch has replaced Lucent as the best search plugin, and SmiteSpam looks set to take the place of older spam-deletion extensions like Nuke in at least some circumstances.
The biggest change, though, in terms of impact on this book, is the introduction of the Cargo extension in 2015. Cargo is meant to be a simpler, easier-to-use alternative to Semantic MediaWiki. SMW and its many spinoff extensions took up nearly one-third of the book in its first two printings, and were to a large extent the heart of the book. I have decided to essentially replace SMW with Cargo in this book, because I believe that Cargo is the superior solution. SMW is still discussed in the book, but just in an overview. Cargo is covered in detail – though, given that it's a more streamlined extension than SMW, it is dealt with in only around 25 pages. The chapter on "Semantic Forms" is still there, though the extension is now called Page Forms, and is now a standalone extension as opposed to one that requires the presence of SMW.
Finally, this book itself, as of the 2nd edition, is now available for free online in HTML form. Previously the first three chapters were available as a free PDF file, but now the entire book, front to back, can be viewed online, at http://workingwithmediawiki.com/book
. Given that MediaWiki is open source, and given MediaWiki's close connection (via Wikipedia and the rest) to the world of open content and "free culture", it's great to be able to have this book be similarly accessible.