What Happened to Wikipedia Book Creator?

This isn’t really running, but since we’re talking about Wikipedia, I really miss Wikipedia’s Book Creator tool. It was a really easy to use feature that let someone add a bunch of Wikipedia articles to a list, and would output a book where each article was a chapter. The formatting worked really well and everything, so it was a way to produce an OER textbook on the fly even on obscure topics. Does anyone know whether they’d ever restore it?

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@stevefoerster

Yes, Pediapress combined with the Collection extension for Mediawiki was amazing tech especially since you could export an ODF text document for local editing.

I suspect sustainability challenges in maintaining the PDF rendering server and keeping the code base up to date for conversions became a challenge. That said - these technologies could make a world of difference to those who don’t have affordable access to OER.

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I guess it’s dead for two reasons: (1) Wikipedia and users of Wikipedia did not not care much. When I showed this extension to others they never knew that it existed. (2) The extension was not perfect and did require development. When Wikipedia removed the book creator I guess (but DO NOT know) that the developer ran into difficulties. I asked on twitter (@pediapress) if there was some development and he said "maybe in 2023).

Also there is an alternative for tech savvy people that works quite well (last time I tried, image resizing was not to my taste but the overall result was slightly better). Benutzer:Dirk Hünniger/wb2pdf – Wikibooks, Sammlung freier Lehr-, Sach- und Fachbücher

Here are my notes from over two years ago: Mediawiki2latex - EduTech Wiki I will try again, soon.

Same problem as for Pediapress, not much interest, developer has other things to do …

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That’s very helpful @danielkschneider - Off to take a look at your notes on the alternative. Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks for sharing @danielkschneider

Super disappointing to know that the book creator extension has no future, in fact it hasn’t had any movement since 2019: Reading/Web/PDF Functionality - MediaWiki

I thought it was a wonderful resource to export open content out of the mediawiki, an excellent way to reuse open content to different outputs. Thought a lot of this extension as a “on demand” book creator, very well fit to learners that need the printed format to read (while digital reading glides and scrolls vertically, printed reading favors deeper engagement with text). Related to this, what I really liked about the book creator was to export to a .zim file that you could load to kiwix (Kiwix lets you access free knowledge – even offline), an offline reader of mediawiki collections. In an offline setting the books could be surfed super fast!! So you could also taylor the book for its weight (with or without images, for example) and its content: look at the thematic books: Content - Kiwix You could build the book you wanted!!

@Mackiwg we could have used the extension using/reusing the pedagogical templates Quickstart guide/Pedagogical templates - WikiEducator to build on demand K12 textbooks!!

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Wow - I wasn’t aware of that reuse example. Nice one! Potentially - if we can find sufficient organizations interested in this kind of functionality, being open source, in theory the plugin could be revived with some development work to bring it back to life.

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Many thanks, @danielkschneider, your tool looks very helpful!

COVID 19 pandemia had a big impact on K12 textbooks use, without teacher facilitating, its use went down to near 0. Many countries have public policies to guarantee textbooks to every learner with heavy public expenditure within times of budget restriction. Maybe public institutions that support textbooks could be interested to transit from a “unique textbook to every learner” to a “on-demand/differentiated/personalized to meet learners needs”. Other orgs interested? No clues from this south of the world.

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Kiwix is also interesting, but not obvious either.

(1) We got our EduTechWikis included in their database (after some donation), but the automatic retrieval has been broken for a while and I don’t know for what reason (something else that I have to look into). Our wiki does not seem to be the only one that has trouble with updating: Index of /zim/other

(2) When I tried to promote this among folks that could need it, they had big difficulties installing and using the client. It did require some minimal ICT expertise (something that most people do not have). E.g. our instructions from 2020: EduTechWiki offline - EduTech Wiki

(3) Navigation was not very good, since category browsing was missing. They planned to implement it, but I do not know if it was done.