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The benefits to PediaPress of Going Open Source

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MJL (talkcontribs)

@Ckepper asked about the potential benefits of PediaPress going open source with this project in this thread. I wanted to give them some good takeaways to bring back to their company as it relates to this specific project.

Commercialization of a given project is an important reason to want to keep it closed source. However, I believe it would impede the success of the renderer long term were it to remain closed source. As things stand, I do not think it will be as successful as Extension:Collection because, for starters, it would not be free to install for most. Small wikis would not be able to afford much in licensing. Open source also instills a kind of trust that any large company, nonprofit, or single individual can rely on. It shows you are so confident with your product that you will extend that to showing it for the world to see in its most basic form: code.

On a different note, as is reported on the company's website, "[you] offer consulting, customization, and support for advanced document transformation solutions." This is nothing small right here, and I am confident in that business model. If, however, you believe otherwise, there is still ways to protect copyright without going closed source. In this case, I would look to Chromium for guidance in what potential path you can take. Not every one of your ideas needs to be included in an open source repository, so you can still maintain the parts you want secret or just to yourselves.

The principle rendering service should, however, be available to the public to do bug tests and the like. It's a win-win. Consulting and customization are where the real money is anyways. You could also branch into hosting this rendering service for others similar to how you already offer print-on-demand books to any mediawiki-wiki. Wikis will always need to pay for this if they want the product beyond what is already offered out there.

Finally, it is a strong selling point for a company with such strong ties to the open-source movement! I hope this helps you make the right decision on this matter.

Ckepper (talkcontribs)

Thank you for your comment. After talking with colleagues and other stakeholders, we have made the decision to release mwlib.html as open source when the project is sufficiently mature. This should help to ensure its long-term viability.

Also, I enabled the new render server so that rendering on https://pediapress.com/collector should work again (and be more stable).

MJL (talkcontribs)

That's awesome news! Major thanks goes out to your organisation for its willingness to do that. If there is anything you all need from the community (like press releases*, bug testing, etc.) please reach out! I just tried the collector on Simple:Spooky Scary Skeletons, and I think it really looks great!! Very elegant! :D

*I run Wikisource News (en) now, so I can help with publishing and writing it!

Ckepper (talkcontribs)

I have added Wikibooks (en) and Wikisource (en) to the test renderer. The output is still far from perfect but PediaPress was never able to generate PDFs from those sites before.

Helmoony (talkcontribs)

Hi @Ckepper, is it possible for you to add Wikipedia (ar), Wikibooks (ar) and Wikisource (ar). It's going to be a good test for right-to-left issues.


Ckepper (talkcontribs)

Hi @Helmoony, I have added Wikipedia (ar). A few years ago (for Wikimania Haifa 2011) we created a LTR export with our old PDF renderer and that was really painful - especially since no one on our team knew Hebrew. You can start playing around with the export, but this is definitely not a priority for us right now.

Helmoony (talkcontribs)

Thank you Ckepper, I tested the version, it's not working great. When it doesn't show ''Failed to load PDF document.'', errors are mainly: text format should start from right, wikidata-based infoboxes are not showing wikidata data including OSM-based map, some terms need to be translated (e.g. Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors). But at least we know what we need to do now.

MarkAHershberger (talkcontribs)

The render worked for me just now for arwiki. There are still some RTL issues, but I didn't see the "Failed to load" issue.

Is the source available so that we can contribute?

Ckepper (talkcontribs)

Not yet, I'd like to clean it up a little bit before making it available.

MarkAHershberger (talkcontribs)

I hope you can release it soon. The book functionality is needed! Thank you for your quick reply!

Ckepper (talkcontribs)

I hear you. Maybe I don't do the full cleanup to publish it sooner.

MarkAHershberger (talkcontribs)

That would be awesome! Ugly code that works is better than no code.

MarkAHershberger (talkcontribs)

There are, among those of us who use MediaWiki to run KM systems outside of Wikipedia, some absolutely essential extensions whose code is hideous.

I'm glad you want clean code, but I would hope that you can release the code as soon as possible and then clean up the code later.

Steelpillow (talkcontribs)

Yes, absolutely. A buggy alpha release v0.01 is better than no release at all. Thank you so much for keeping on with this work.

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