PBS Wiki

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Mon, 23 Feb 2009 08:02:17 PST

I am pleased to announce that we have converted the PBS wiki. This has 
required an incredible amount of time and effort since February 3 and we 
still have a lot of corrections to make and new instructions to create or 
modifications to some of the instructions. So I am asking those of you who 
work on the wiki please not to add anything new until I announce that 
additions can be made. And please don't try to make corrections unless you 
have my permission.

At the beginning of this process I wasn't sure I wanted to take this on. 
But in the end I didn't want to lose the wiki down the road and all the 
hard work that has been put into it. And then helpers appeared so I didn't 
have to do this all by myself.

Thanks are in order. First there was Brian Wendt, a man who advertises that 
he can be hired to help in installation for pmwiki. He figured out how to 
get our old wiki working well enough that you could see it, buying us some 
time to explore alternatives. And he didn't charge us, just helped in the 
spirit of the Internet and open source software.

The next job was researching to find the best wiki software for our needs, 
one that was free, had good instructions already created by others, and had 
a group of developers passionately involved on keeping it up to date and 
still improving it. Nhu Nguyen and David Pilling gave me good advice and 
helped me evaluate the choices. Nhu tried out the ones I thought might work 
and pointed out the strengths and weaknesses he found. And David downloaded 
the software and put in on his server so we could practice there.

When I had made my choice, pmwiki,  http://www.pmwiki.org/   I joined the 
users group for that wiki and asked if there was anyone who had converted 
from php wiki to pm wiki who might be able to suggest ways to do it. I got 
a private response which turned out to be the biggest source of help of 
all. A man from Lithuania who likes plants, had the necessary knowledge, 
skills, and time offered to spend some time figuring out how hard it would 
be to convert and then if it wasn't too hard, to help me. Since then 
(February 11) he has put in many hours every day as we emailed back and 
forth working through all the fixes and patiently explaining sometimes more 
than once things I needed to know. In addition he redid a number of things 
when the first way didn't work. One example was the way we do tables on the 
genera pages. The mark up was a nightmare to look at on the edit screen and 
he researched pmwiki until he found an alternative way that would be easier.

Next I want to thank those people who checked the "test" wiki pages and 
wrote me what was broken or not working . We have more than 900 of those 
pages so this was a monumental task. Besides the conversion mistakes, they 
often found other punctuation, spelling, broken links, and other things 
that we will need to fix. Many thanks to Dianne Martinelli, Diane 
Whitehead, Nhu Nguyen, Christiaan van Schalkwyk, Linda Foulis, Jim 
McKenney, Kathleen Sayce, Dell Sherk, and Jennifer Hildebrand.

Nhu and Christiaan have already helped me to start fixing the things that 
we were unable to convert and have to change by hand.

My Lithuanian helper and I did everything we could to preserve our urls as 
we know that a lot of web pages are linked to our wiki. However we had to 
rename probably about 800 images. I guess that's not too bad out of about 
8500. But those links won't work anymore. So if any of you link to our 
images, you should check. Most of the images we had to change ended in .JPG 
instead of .jpg
The system we use is case sensitive and pm wiki only allows .jpg files.

Finally this wiki has a different way of displaying thumbnails. Most of us 
who have been looking at them really like them and it is possible once you 
click on the larger picture to go from picture to picture. All of the 
thumbnails are square. Most of our images are not square. So the program 
takes the middle of the picture which if the flower is in the right or left 
or top or bottom part of the picture, the thumbnail may not show the flower 
very well. But the larger image will be fine. The thumbnail on my profile 
page is vertical prompting Christiaan to email me that it appeared I had 
lost my head. It has felt like that more than once.

This group has been very lucky that so many people came forward to 
volunteer their time and talents in this process. In these trying times, it 
is nice to have a really good story and outcome to report. Please be 
patient as we finish the rest of this process.

Mary Sue

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