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Re: [kDev] MediaWiki developers evaluate Kendra Base...
Hi Erik and All,
On Oct 16, 2004, at 5:11 am, Erik Moeller wrote:
thanks for your mail, and for adding the Kendra mock-up to the
Wikidata page on Meta. What I wasn't able to figure out: Is it
possible to see the revision history of an individual property?
We have a chunk more coding to do before we hit our goal for this stage:
Revision history is in there.
Are diffs etc. implemented?
I would expect so. Neil Harris has been writing all the Python code so
far and I don't know Python myself. You can see all the code here:
I'm also not quite sure what's possible in terms of data relations,
though the simplicity of backlinks has some beauty to it.
I think in general KendraBase's goals are very similar, if not
identical, to those of Wikidata.
I'm not so sure and correct me if I am wrong:
Wikidata aims to "centrally store and manage data from all Wikimedia
projects". Whereas Kendra Base aims to be a distributed platform
enabling disparate databases, marked up in different
languages/terminologies to interoperate as if they were one centralised
database from a user's viewpoint.
So perhaps we have the same goal for the experience of the
viewer/searcher of the information. But in terms of the publisher I
think we are quite divergent.
There are quite a few reasons why the KendraBase implementation
cannot be the base of the Wikidata project, however.
Chief among them are:
* MediaWiki. I consider it the best wiki engine that is currently
available, with the possible exception of the proprietary Jot (which
has Kendra-like features). It is also the basis of all Wikimedia
projects. To use an entirely different software would be undesirable,
because it would be incredibly hard to provide a consistent user
experience, and because we would thereby abandon the goal to
integrate the idea of wikidata into any MediaWiki-based wiki.
That fair enough.
To clarify the last point, while Wikidata.org, in my vision, will be
a separate project, we will want to use Wikidata functionality in
virtually all Wikimedia projects. For example, it would be desirable
to have structured, searchable data about images stored on the
various wikis (caption, copyright status, photographer, etc.)
* Scalability. As I understand it, you are using UsemodWiki. While it
is very nice, Wikipedia.org alone is one of the top 300 websites
already and growing constantly. MediaWiki has been prodded by dozens
of developers to get decent caching on all levels: filesystem,
database, shared memory, Squid proxies, user client. It has been
systematically vetted for slow queries that could kill the server. It
is tried and tested in a very harsh environment. Mind you, Wikipedia
originally started with UsemodWiki, but it's simply not up to the
challenge of running a site of this size.
That's why I glad we are having this conversation. Because your
evaluator didn't get all the facts right. We have a normal wiki where we
do wiki things and, yes, we use Usemod.
However, Kendra Base is an entirely separate application and is using an
entirely different language. It has nothing to do with any other wiki
software. All completely home grown Python code.
Also, Kendra Base is definitely not a wiki with database functionality
bolted on. It's a flexible datastore with a forms interface to
input/search information about objects. Granted, the forms that we are
using look like a wiki because we like the simplicity of the interface
but we will also be able to edit objects entirely by other types of
forms with drop down menus, etc much like you show in your mock up.
* Usability. Much as I love KendraBase's feature set, if I had
discovered it a few months earlier, I probably wouldn't have spent
much time with it - simply because the user experience is quite
confusing. It is unexpected to see programming terms like "instance",
"class", "ontology" used in the context of wiki editing, and the
navigation through the system is not very clear.
What words/terminology would you like see used to describe these
features? We could do with your understanding here.
I realize it is currently in the proof of concept stage, and at that
it succeeds marvelously. But I think turning what is currently there
into a base that would pass the usability test of exposing it to the
teeming Wikimedia masses would require almost as much effort as
writing something new from scratch. Good user interfaces are really,
really hard, and that aspect of software design is often
That's fair enough comment. So, please, how would you design the
interface? You will need to do this for Wikidata. Do you have any ideas yet?
With this in mind, I will definitely be spending more time trying out
KendraBase and observing its progress. I'm sure there is a lot we
can learn from it for Wikidata development.
And vice-versa! ;-)
I'm currently occupied getting another revolutionary project off the
ground (Wikinews), but I should have some time to devote to this in
Now, I'm not sure what your long term plans for Kendra are. If you
see a way this project could be merged into the larger Wikimedia
effort, I would definitely be interested in discussing that.
Well, that's an interesting idea and I'm sure we will look at that very
seriously as we continue development of Kendra Base.
While the Wikimedia Foundation is not yet the best-funded
organization (we just raised $50K in two weeks, mostly to cover
hardware costs), I believe it is quite likely that we will get
substantial grants in the near future.
A requirement for such a cooperation would be that any future work on
this project is done on the basis of the MediaWiki code in
collaboration with the existing MediaWiki development team.
The reason for creating Kendra Base is to provide Kendra Initiative with
a collaborative design tool to enable us to build an open marketplace
for digital media. For more information see:
Kendra Base is not a standalone project but a small part of a much
Kendra Initiative's aim crosses the borders of "free" media and
"commercial" media. We aim to provide for both. As it's all really the
same stuff. Just bits of information with permissions attached.
Again, whether this is desirable to you depends entirely on your
goals. Wikimedia is the organization which is in the best position to
get Wikidata off the ground - it has a huge community of users who
are just waiting for something like this. So if your goal is to get
ontology tools into the hands of the masses, I think a partnership
with Wikimedia would definitely be the way forward.
I definitely think you are right. Partnership would be good. For the
next few months I think it best to continue to the end of our current
development stage. In parallel with this I think we should start to
flesh out how a partnership would work. Yes?
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