Hi S Page-

Thanks for your help and the very detailed response.  The test page you made looks quite good.  I think SMW could work if I can make it easy enough to use for the average joe.  The trick is consistency.  Most people who add books are going to be authors who have only one book (their own) to enter.  Since they won't be familiar with the layout and can't be expected to spend time learning the vagaries of SMW to make one entry, I want to make it as easy as possible for them.  I've had another offer for help and I'll pursue this a bit. 

As far as browsing goes, there are workarounds for everything.  I think we can ditch the next/previous book feature if we have to.  As long as people can easily find what they're looking for, the exact method they use to do that isn't important.  There must be an easy way to browse and an easy way to search, two things I think are possible.

I'll keep working on this and let the group know what happens.


Jason Turgeon
Publisher, Textbook Revolution

On 12/18/06, S Page <skierpage@earthlink.net> wrote:
Jason Turgeon wrote:
> Hi All-
> I've been looking around for a solution to open up my database of books
> and I think Semantic MediaWiki might do the trick.  Can you tell me if
> I'm correct?
How long is a piece of string? :-)  Try creating some test pages on
ontoworld.org and see how you get on.  (Please put
[[Category:Textbookrevolution test]] in each page.)

Disclaimer: I am far from an expert.

> My site is www.textbookrevolution.org
> <http://www.textbookrevolution.org >.  It's a list of links to free
> textbooks that I've found online, with capsule reviews.  It's set up in
> Textpattern using a mySQL database.  When I enter a book, I fill out a
> form with blanks for author, title, tags, etc.

MediaWiki is inherently about free-form wiki text.  The closest thing to
filling out a form is using a template like {{book
review|Business|Standard copyright|http://www.managementhelp.org/}},
which is for more motivated users.  As with any Wiki you hope that
committed editors give structure, rather than getting it from form fill-in.

> I want to open up the site so that anyone can post a new book or review
> a book.  It seems that a wiki is ideal for this, but I don't want to
> give up the database structure.

SMW stores relations between articles (e.g. [[Copyright Type::Standard
copyright]], maybe [[Tag::Business]] ) in one table, and attributes of
articles (e.g. [[External Web site:= http://www.managementhelp.org/]] and
[[Available for purchase:=no]] ) in another.  Is this "giving up your DB

> Can anyone here tell me if Semantic
> MediaWiki will do the job?

From a brief glance at textbookrevolution.org...

MediaWiki gives you categories and SMW gives you a few more ways to
implement tags, but not your capsule summaries that show up under
categories and tags: all you normally see under MediaWiki categories are
the page titles.  That's a big difference between a wiki and a CMS; most
CMSs have fields per article like Author and Short description and you
can show different fields in different contexts like summary pages,
lists and TOCs.  You could fake it in SMW by encouraging people to add a
   [[Short description:=Financial Accounting is for people who want to
learn debit and credit accounting quickly.]]
attribute, and use inline queries on category and tag pages to show this
as well as the title.  And maybe there's a MediaWiki extension that both
identifies a capsule summary and makes it available on other pages.

I'm not sure how easy it would be to create a page skin that shows all
categories under "Browse by Category".

I'm not sure how your Previous book / Next book links work.

See http://ontoworld.org/wiki/Quick_Notes_Financial_Accounting for a
rough taste of how one of your pages would look without any work.
ontoworld.org always shows the factbox, so to prevent the license,
homepage, etc. appearing twice I put "| " for an empty text description
in these properties.

> If so, there might be a contract job for
> someone who could set it up on our servers and migrate the existing
> database in to Semantic MW.

> On a related note, I may be getting RSS feeds of new free books as
> they're released by a couple of different publishers.  Is it possible to
> have these feeds automatically integrated into MediaWiki so that I don't
> have to go through and manually enter all the info?

An external script can create pages.  And there are extensions to
display RSS within MediaWiki.

> Please CC me on any responses, as I'm not a subscriber to the mailing
> list since I'm not a user yet.

=S Page

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