Manual:Importing XML dumps

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This page describes methods to import XML dumps. XML Dumps contain the content of a wiki (wiki pages with all their revisions), without the site-related data. A XML dump does not create a full backup of the wiki database, the dump does not contain user accounts, images, edit logs, etc.

The Special:Export page of any mediawiki site, including any Wikimedia site and wikipedia, creates an XML file (content dump). See meta:Data dumps and Manual:DumpBackup.php. XML files are explained more on meta:Help:Export.

What to import?[edit | edit source]

How to import?[edit | edit source]

There are several methods for importing these XML dumps.

Using Special:Import[edit | edit source]

Special:Import can be used by wiki users with import permission (by default this is users in the sysop group) to import a small number of pages (about 100 should be safe). Trying to import large dumps this way may result in timeouts or connection failures. See meta:Help:Import for a detailed description.[1]

Changing permissions[edit | edit source]

See Manual:User_rights

To allow all registered editors to import (not recommended) the line added to localsettings.php would be:

$wgGroupPermissions['user']['import'] = true;
$wgGroupPermissions['user']['importupload'] = true;

Possible problems[edit | edit source]

For using Transwiki-Import PHP safe_mode must be off and open_basedir must be empty (both of them are variables in php.ini). Otherwise the import fails.

If you get error like this:

Warning: XMLReader::open(): Unable to open source data in /.../wiki/includes/Import.php on line 53
Warning: XMLReader::read(): Load Data before trying to read in /.../wiki/includes/Import.php on line 399

And Special:Import shows: "Import failed: Expected <mediawiki> tag, got ", this may be a problem caused by a fatal error on a previous import, which leaves libxml in a wrong state across the entire server, or because another PHP script on the same server disabled entity loader (PHP bug). This happens on MediaWiki versions prior to MediaWiki 1.26, and the solution is to restart the webserver service (apache, etc), or write and execute a script that calls libxml_disable_entity_loader(false); (see task T86036).

Using importDump.php, if you have shell access[edit | edit source]

Recommended method for general use, but slow for very big data sets. For very large amounts of data, such as a dump of a big Wikipedia, use mwdumper, and import the links tables as separate SQL dumps.

importDump.php is a command line script located in the maintenance folder of your MediaWiki installation. If you have shell access, you can call importdump.php from within the maintenance folder like this (add paths as necesary):

php importDump.php --conf ../LocalSettings.php /path_to/dumpfile.xml.gz wikidb

or this:

php importDump.php < dumpfile.xml

where dumpfile.xml is the name of the XML dump file. If the file is compressed and that has a .gz or .bz2 file extension, it is decompressed automatically.

Afterwards use ImportImages.php to import the images:

php importImages.php ../path_to/images

Note Note: If you have other digitial media file types uploaded to your wiki, i.e., .zip, .nxc, .cpp, .py, or .pdf, then you must also backup/export the wiki_prefix_imagelinks table and "insert" it into the new SQL database table that corresponds with your new MediaWiki. Otherwise, all links referencing these file types will turn up as broken in your wikipages.

Note Note: If you are using WAMP installation, you can have troubles with the importing, due to innoDB settings (by default is this engine disabled in my.ini, so if you don't need troubles, use MyIsam engine)

Note Note: running importDump.php can take quite a long time. For a large Wikipedia dump with millions of pages, it may take days, even on a fast server. Also note that the information in meta:Help:Import about merging histories, etc. also applies.

Note Note: Optimizing of database after import is recommended: it can reduce database size in two or three times.

After running importDump.php, you may want to run rebuildrecentchanges.php in order to update the content of your Special:Recentchanges page.

FAQ[edit | edit source]

How to setup debug mode?
Use command line option --debug.
How to make a dry run (no data added to the database)?
Use command line option --dry-run

Error messages[edit | edit source]

roots@hello:~# php importImages.php /maps gif bmp PNG JPG GIF BMP
> PHP Deprecated:  Comments starting with '#' are deprecated in /etc/php5/cli/conf.d/mcrypt.ini on line 1 in Unknown on line 0
> Could not open input file: importImages.php

Before running importImages.php you first need to change directories to the maintenance folder which has the importImages.php maintence script.

Error while running MAMP
DB connection error: No such file or directory (localhost)

Using specific database credentials

$wgDBserver         = "localhost:/Applications/MAMP/tmp/mysql/mysql.sock";
$wgDBadminuser      = "XXXX";
$wgDBadminpassword  = "XXXX";

Using ImportTextFile.php Maintenance Script[edit | edit source]

If you have a lot of content converted from another source (several word processor files, content from another wiki, etc), you may have several files that you would like to import into your wiki. For that use ImportTextFile.php.

Using mwdumper[edit | edit source]

mwdumper is a Java application that can be used to read, write and convert MediaWiki XML dumps. It can be used to generate a SQL dump from the XML file (for later use with mysql or phpmyadmin) as well as for importing into the database directly. It is a lot faster than importDump.php, however, it only imports the revisions (page contents), and does not update the internal link tables accordingly -- that means that category pages and many special pages will show incomplete or incorrect information unless you update those tables.

If available, you can fill the link tables by importing separate SQL dumps of these tables using the mysql command line client directly. For Wikimedia wikis, this data is available along with the XML dumps.

Otherwise, you can run rebuildall.php, which will take a long time, because it has to parse all pages. This is not recommended for large data sets.

Using xml2sql[edit | edit source]

Xml2sql (a multiplatform ANSI C program) converts a MediaWiki XML file into an SQL dump for use with mysql or phpmyadmin. Just like using mwdumper (see above), importing this way is fast, but does not update secondary data like link tables, so you need to run rebuildall.php, which nullifies that advantage.

Warning Warning: xml2sql is not an official tool and not maintained by MediaWiki developers. It may become outdated and incompatible with the latest version of MediaWiki!

It already did. It's reporting "unexpected element <redirect>" just as the original 1.15 Import.php does (reported on 13 February 2010). (Tried on April 29th 2010 and getting same <redirect> issue). But You can use the perl script `` in order to remove "<redirect />" and other new tags before running Xml2sql, see section Xml2sql at [1].

Using pywikipediabot, and Nokogiri[edit | edit source]

pywikipediabot is a collection of tools written in python that automate work on Wikipedia or other MediaWiki sites. Once installed on your computer, you can use the specific tool '' which lets you upload a wiki file on Wikipedia or Mediawiki sites. The xml file created by dumpBackup.php can be transformed into a wiki file suitable to be processed by '' using a simple Ruby program similar to the following (here the program will transform all xml files which are on the current directory which is needed if your mediawiki site is a family):

# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-
# dumpxml2wiki.rb

require 'rubygems'
require 'nokogiri'

# This program dumpxml2wiki reads mediawiki xml files dumped by dumpBackup.php
# on the current directory and transforms them into wiki files which can then 
# be modified and uploaded again by pywikipediabot using on a mediawiki family site.
# The text of each page is searched with xpath and its title is added on the first line as
# an html comment: this is required by
Dir.glob("*.xml").each do |filename|
  input = Nokogiri::XML(, nil, 'UTF-8')

  puts filename.to_s  # prints the name of each .xml file"out_" + filename + ".wiki", 'w') {|f| 
    input.xpath("//xmlns:text").each {|n|
      pptitle = n.parent.parent.at_css "title" # searching for the title
      title = pptitle.content
      f.puts "\n{{-start-}}<!--'''" << title.to_s << "'''-->" << n.content  << "\n{{-stop-}}"

For example, here is an excerpt of a wiki file output by the command 'ruby dumpxml2wiki.rb' (two pages can then be uploaded by, a Template and a second page which is a redirect):


{{-start-}}#REDIRECT[[badania demograficzne]]<!--'''ilościowa demografia'''-->
[[Category:Termin wielojęzycznego słownika demograficznego (pierwsze wydanie)|ilościowa demografia]]
[[Category:Termin wielojęzycznego słownika demograficznego (pierwsze wydanie) (redirect)]]

The program accesses each xml file, extracts the texts within <text> </text> markups of each page, searches the corresponding title as a parent and enclosed it with the paired {{-start-}}<!--'''Title of the page'''--> {{-stop-}} commands used by 'pagefromfile' to create or update a page. The name of the page is in an html comment and separated by three quotes on the same first start line. Please notice that the name of the page can be written in Unicode. Sometimes it is important that the page starts directly with the command, like for a #REDIRECT; thus the comment giving the name of the page must be after the command but still on the first line.

Please remark that the xml dump files produced by dumpBackup.php are prefixed by a namespace:

<mediawiki xmlns="">

In order to access the text node using Nokogiri, you need to prefix your path with 'xmlns':


. Nokogiri is an HTML, XML, SAX, & Reader parser with the ability to search documents via XPath or CSS3 selectors from the last generation of XML parsers using Ruby.

Example of the use of 'pagefromfile' to upload the output wiki text file:

python -summary:"Reason for changes" -lang:pl -putthrottle:01

How to import logs?[edit | edit source]

Exporting and importing logs with the standard MediaWiki scripts often proves very hard; an alternative for import is the script in the WikiDAT tool, as suggested by Felipe Ortega.

Troubleshooting[edit | edit source]

Merging histories, revision conflict, edit summaries, and other complications[edit | edit source]

Interwikis[edit | edit source]

If you get the message

Page "meta:Blah blah" is not imported because its name is reserved for external linking (interwiki).

the problem is that some pages to be imported have a prefix that is used for interwiki linking. For example, ones with a prefix of 'Meta:' would conflict with the interwiki prefix meta: which by default links to

You can do any of the following.

  • Remove the prefix from the interwiki table. This will preserve page titles, but prevent interwiki linking through that prefix.
    Example: you will preserve page titles 'Meta:Blah blah' but will not be able to use the prefix 'meta:' to link to (although it will be possible through a different prefix).
    How to do it: before importing the dump, run the query DELETE FROM interwiki WHERE iw_prefix='prefix' (note: do not include the colon in the prefix). Alternatively, if you have enabled editing the interwiki table, you can simply go to Special:Interwiki and click the 'Delete' link on the right side of the row belonging to that prefix.
  • Replace the unwanted prefix in the XML file with "Project:" before importing. This will preserve the functionality of the prefix as an interlink, but will replace the prefix in the page titles with the name of the wiki where they're imported into, and might be quite a pain to do on large dumps.
    Example: replace all 'Meta:' with 'Project:' in the XML file. MediaWiki will then replace 'Project:' with the name of your wiki during importing.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. See Manual:XML Import file manipulation in CSharp for a C# code sample that manipulates an XML import file.
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