[isabelle-dev] Repository and Wiki [was: push request (Sublist.thy)]
makarius at sketis.net
Mon Dec 17 12:13:38 CET 2012
On Sat, 15 Dec 2012, Florian Haftmann wrote:
> I started this repository for two reasons:
> * I had to cleanup the webserver configuration and needed proper
> * I wanted to discover ways to maintain documentation in a lightweigth
> fashion apt to versioning.
Such a purely administrative repository for internal use does have a
purpose, since not every aspect of the TUM configuration needs to be made
world-readable on public servers.
We merely need to learn where to draw the line. For example, the isatest
settings have greatly benefitted from being exposed in
Admin/isatest/settings under official version control. Before it was
always a guess in the dark what isatest was using in a failed test in the
> Concerning wikis in general, since over one year I do not consider
> mediawiki the tool of choice for our purpose. It requires massive
> infrastructure, its format is a sink (only mediawiki can parse
> mediawiki), and is hopelessly tied to a RDMS backend which is useless
> until the number of your users grows beyond, say, 10 in a minute (just
> to give a figure).
For my part, I knew that already before the start of the community wiki.
MediaWiki is "the" standard wiki in public perception, mainly because
Wikipedia uses it. But Wikipedia uses massive add-on technology and
social and administrative structures to arrive at its perceived quality.
Without that a MediaWiki wiki becomes a sink for rubbish by default.
The Isabelle community wiki has emerged in a classic way you normally tell
first-year students as bad joke in software technology management:
* 2-3 users (students) had asked for a wiki at TUM for their own use
* Without spending any time to think about the "implementation" the
admins were asked to install a mediawiki server that they happened to
have already running anyway. It was known to be an insignifant,
temporary experiment, so nobody cared much.
* Since the wikiserver happened to be there already, it was re-dedicated
to host the Isabelle community wiki.
So systematic use of things that just happened to be there by accident.
This is the standard way to produce a lot of follow-up costs in everyday
use and maintenance of the result.
> If a wiki frontend seems critical, as of today I would recommend
> something like Gitit http://gitit.net/, which uses hg or git as backend,
> with all benefits like easy integration into versioning infrastructure,
> usable without frontend etc.
This is one of the many starting points for contemporary technology to do
the job, in a more lightweight and more robust way than old Mediawiki.
Every time I pass by Bitbucket, I am impressed how nice they make a
secondary "wiki" repository appear on the web, using the existing concepts
of Mercurial repository + interpretation of Markdown. Even the "main"
repository looks nice on the web, with rendering of README within each
directory. (They even have a tracker that does not look like the first
big issue to be tracked with it, but it poses probably a vendor-lock-in
problem, unlike the wiki with its generic hg + md basis.)
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