Friday, November 16, 2007

Technical Wishlist

What technological changes or updates would we want to make Wikibooks better? This is the question that was posed to the community yesterday, and there have already been several replies. Some ideas are not new:
  • Create a new [[Special:Randombook]] that would randomly return a top-level page only (not a subpage). We do this function already using javascript, but this method isn't fool-proof, and since it's javascript it won't work in all browsers
  • Create a new [[Special:Allbooks]], as an analog for [[Special:Allpages]]. Again, it would only return a listing of top-level page names, not subpages.
  • Create a new {{NUMBEROFBOOKS}} magic word that would return the number of top-level pages, as opposed to {{NUMBEROFPAGES}} which doesnt make sense as a metric at Wikibooks
Some new suggestions were also provided, some of which are very interesting:
  • Modify [[Special:Search]], or create [[Special:Searchbook]] to perform per-book searches. This would be useful for some of our larger or more diverse books. At the moment, we use a javascript to call a google search to do this same thing, but again javascript might not work in all browsers
  • Create a special class of indexing page, where we could "design" a book from a high level. We could provide a list of pages in a specific order, and the index would automatically produce some common features of a book, such as a table-of-contents, a printable version, forward/backward navigation links between adjacent pages, etc. TOCs are basically just lists of links of the pages in a book in a specific order. Printable versions are like TOCs, but transcluding the pages instead of just linking to them (thus creating a single page that contains the entire book). Basically, it provides a way to specify the relationship between pages, so that we don't need to maintain those relationships manually. This is a very popular idea among wikibookians (as one might imagine).
  • Create an <includeonce>...</includeonce> tag or other similar mechanisms to prevent inter-page navigational templates from being included dozens of times into a printable version. At the moment, we have to use a messy <div {{#ifeq:{{SUBPAGENAME}}|Print version|style="display:none;"}}> tag to hide navigational templates on a print version, and that's hardly ideal.
  • A PDF generator, or PDF export function. I know server loads would be a pain, but it would help our efforts out so much to be able to make PDFs quickly and in a uniform way.
Some other perennial favorites were also suggested, such as upgrading our DPL, enabling StringFunctions, enabling the LilyPond extension, etc. I understand why the developers don't want these extensions to be installed, but wishlists don't need to be realistic.

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