I talked about installing extensions last week. This week I figured that I’d dive into which extensions I love to use.
Before I get started on my list of favorite MediaWiki extensions, I want to say that it is amazing how much people have contributed to making MediaWiki one of the most fun and useful platforms to use. There are so many great extensions out there, that it is really hard to choose which are my favorites. I’ll try to keep the list as focused as possible. You MediaWiki developers make it really hard!
Here’s my list – I couldn’t figure out what the order of importance was, so I just put them in alphabetical order.
- AWC’s Forum – The AWC Forum extension is more than your exeryday extension. It doesn’t really run inside the normal wiki part of your wiki. It is a full powered forum that runs in your mediawiki’s wrapper. It’s a little more intense to set up than your regular extensions. To get all this functionality, database tables need to be added to your wiki. Not to fear, the extension comes with a setup program that installs them for you. Like any forum, it allows users to have group conversations, and includes a system for direct messaging one another.
- CanonicalHref – Is there a way to get to pages in your wiki using different urls? This is an SEO no-no. You want to make sure that the search engines can only get to a page of content from one url. If not, the SEO power may be split among the different URLs that have the same content. By adding a canonical url to each page, you tell the search engines which url should be used for this page, no matter how they got there. The Pet Wiki runs on version 1.15.1 of the MediaWiki. I’ve been told that this extension will be part of the MediaWiki core code when 1.16 is released.
- CharInsert – I find WikiText (the markup language that is supposed to make it easy for people to add to a wiki) very cumbersome. There are lots of square brackets all over the place and I’m never 100% certain that I got it right. That’s ok. By adding CharInsert extension, I get a nice grouping of WikiText functions that I can use to both get it right and save time. I find that I use it a lot when I’m adding categories to pages. It’s a huge time saver.
- ContributionCredits – It’s nice to give credit where credit is due. If people spend their precious time adding to the wiki, there is no reason that they shouldn’t also get credit. ContributionCredits is a nice way to display just that.
- CreateBox – You decided to set up a wiki because it’s a great way for people to share their knowledge, right? The one thing that I found really hard to explain to people is how to add new pages. No more. By adding CreateBox to my homepage, it’s easy for people to add content. All they need to do is type in the box and hit the create button, and they are ready to type away.
- DynamicPageList – This is one of the most useful extensions that I’ve ever found. It’s really incredible. It creates lists of all the pages in the same category. A good example of it in action is the Dogs page on The Pet Wiki. By adding a couple of lines to the page, it displays all pages categorized as dogs. You can only imagine how much work it was to add one breed to that list before. Now it is done automatically.
category = Dog Breeds
columns = 3
- EmbedVideo – This does exactly what you would expect it to do. It allows you to embed video easily into your wiki from the major video providers, like YouTube, Google Video and Dailymotion.
- FBConnect – I have to put FBConnect in my favorites, but I really have a love hate relationship with this extension. This is an extension that is still in beta, and is missing some functionality to make it a realy winner, but the concept is sound. Instead of making people go through the nasty process of registering for an account, they can now hook in to The Pet Wiki with their Facebook user account.
I’m currently looking for someone to help me finish developing this extension. Whatever changes are made to it will be shared back to MediaWiki.org. If you know anyone interested in giving me a hand, send me a line.
- ShareThis – This is a cool extension that allows people to share information from your wiki through a slew of different types of social bookmarking. It comes with some very standard ones, but you can add some of your favorites (or take out some that might not be relevant to your wiki) to customize it just the way that you like.
- Slideshow – This is an extension that I don’t use enough. It does exactly what you would expect it to do – it takes pictures that you’ve uploaded onto you wiki and displays them as a slide show. You can customize the speed and the transitions of the slides.
- SocialProfile – This is the mother of all extensions. Those nice people at Wikia have created a bunch of wonderful extensions that they are kind enough to share with everyone. What SocialProfile does is create an amazing way for people to create a profile and link with other people. Besides allowing people to use an avatar, so that you can see who you are talking to, it also allows people to message one another. You can “friend” people, the same way that you do in Facebook (you can also “foe” people, but I took that out). Like the AWC forum, this extension creates database tables specifically for its own use. I’ve modifed it in The Pet Wiki to allow people to give little bios of their pets.