Sunday, December 13, 2009

Linking to external ontologies

At Omegawiki, it is already possible to add links to Wikipedia and Commons.

In order to be part of the Web 2.0 , we are now considering adding links to external ontologies as well. There are many ontologies out there. For example, there is a small list on Wikipedia. From the discussions we had, there are several ways of linking to them:
  1. We only link to Wikipedia and Commons (this is the current situation).
  2. We link to as many ontologies as we like, as soon as there is a contributor willing to add links to it.
  3. We link to a few ontologies that we consider authoritative or relevant.
  4. We link to only one (or two?) super-ontologies, where we expect that this ontology will link back to other ontologies (and ideally to Omegaiki).
There are problems with each proposition.
  1. Why only Wikipedia and Commons?
  2. If we link to too many ontologies, we cannot keep track of what they are for, and then it is expected that we will be lost in too many links. We also have the risk that some user will come with their favorite ontology that do not bring any information to Omegawiki users, and are therefore useless links.
  3. What is an authoritative ontology? What is relevant? and for what purpose (OmegaWiki users, or automatic processing by programs)? In this case, each ontology of possible interested has to be discussed by the Omegawiki community, and it has to be clear what information it brings.
  4. What is this super-ontology? The name of Opencyc has been proposed. Opencyc links for example to Wikipedia, Umbel, Wordnet and Dbpedia. However, Opencyc does not link for example to geonames.
For more details, you can read and give your opinion on the discussions taking place in the omegawiki beer parlour: here and there.


Saturday, December 05, 2009

Colors in the interface

In order to make OmegaWiki less austere, colors have been added in the interface:
- light red for each language entry
- light blue for each definition or concept
For an example, have a look at Expression:wild

Note that these colors have been chosen to match, more or less, the colors of the OmegaWiki logo ;-)

These changes involve only a modification of the Monobook.css, so each user can also re-configure it to his own taste.

We are looking for more ideas to make the interface more appealing. Please do not hesitate to make any suggestion, should it involve only a css change or even a change in the php.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Thank you Brion

Brion has added Kipcool to the illustrious roster of MediaWiki developers. His first contribution to OmegaWiki is a nice one; when you translate from one language to the the next, the definitions will be shown in the source language when available.

This is a much more friendly approach when translating from one language to the next ... Thank you Brion for making it possible to have cause to thank Kipcool :)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Two improvements

Kipcool has written two nice improvements:
"patch-needstranslation" changes the SpecialNeedsTranslation in that :
instead of link to "Expression:", we have a link to the actual "DefinedMeaning:"
that needs to be translated.

"patch-classes" changes the way the classes are displayed when you want to
add a class to an element.
The current way displays in the first column the name of the classes
and in the second column, the collection to which the class belongs
(which is almost always "Omegawiki Community database")
I have changed it so that the second column now displays a definition of the class.

Note: "patch-classes" also includes additional documentation in the code,
that I am trying to add when I understand what a function does.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A new patch went life

Kipcool had written an improvement on the Expression needing translation special page. The page now shows the number of expressions that exist in one language and have no translation in the other language.

I have had fun playing with it, you find that there are words in Hindi that have no equivalent in Dutch.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Multi lingual support

When you support languages like OmegaWiki does, then there are two levels where this support is provided.
  • Localisation of the user interface
  • Localisation of the data
With the recent major upgrade of OmegaWiki we moved up from release 1.10a to 1.16a. As a consequence we gained the massive amount of localisations that had been provided to MediaWiki by the fine people at This is shown really well in for instance the Russian language..

The complete user interface is now in Russian. We will be able to do even better in the future. We will implement the "LocalisationUpdate" extension; this allow us to continuously adopt all relevant new localisations as committed to the code repository from

Making OmegaWiki a resource that is continuously updated for its multi language support is a dream come true. Really important in this has been the perseverence of RobertL. He got to grips with the complicated even convoluted code that makes OmegaWiki. His work included a lot of sanitising of the code base, this will make it not that hard for us to upgrade in the future.

One other upgrade is planned; this is the implementation of the Babel extension. We will be saying goodbye to all the current templates. They have served us well but they have been an absolute pain to maintain. Smaller project like OmegaWiki are best served by getting the localisations for this functionality from one central place. It makes thousands of templates redundant and, new localisations will now be provided on a daily basis through the LocalisationUpdate.

All in all, the latest major upgrade to OmegaWiki has been an important and most necessary boost to our code base. It adds a new sparkle to our project.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Upgrading the system

OmegaWiki is expected to go completely offline on Monday 20th July at 14:00 UTC for a major upgrade lasting several hour

Friday, June 19, 2009

ISBN 978-3-03911-799-4

Last year I spoke at a conference in Aarhus, Denmark at the Centre for Lexicography at the Aarhus school of business. I was asked to write an article about what I had to say. I did, and with pleasure I received a complimentary copy in the post titled "Lexicography at a Crossroads".

Sadly the publication is not published as an Open Access work so you will have to find a copy when you want to read my essay "The Philosophy behind OmegaWiki and the Visions for the Future". There is always the presentation that I gave at the conference..

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

WOTD publicatie

The word of the day is publicatie. The reason is, that a book with articles by the people who presented has been published. My article is about the philosphy behind OmegaWiki. Now I will have to figure out how to update my profile at wikiprofessional...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


OmegaWiki as a project works; concepts are added and we call them DefinedMeanings, we add Expressions to them and they are either synonyms or translations. We can add part of speech information, we can refer to Wikipedia articles or Commons pictures. All these things we can do in the language selected in your user interface.

OmegaWiki does all these things but there is a problem; the software as it is, is convoluted. A programmer new to the code does not like it. Some hate it with a passion and some looked at it and walked away. This is not good. This is one reason why not much happened with OmegaWiki, the other reason is that we started the development of OmegaWiki mark II.

We created a proof of concept that demonstrated that we can provide multi lingual support to Commons and the next bit was that on the basis of the database backend we would create a new front end, it would be OmegaWiki mark II.

Bèrto went off the grid, it was not possible to contact him in a normal way and now, many months later he appears to have written something called Ambaradan. At this moment there is documentation what it is supposed to do. This documentation is very intriguing and I think that it may even work.

Obviously Ambaradan is welcome to the OmegaWiki content and once there is a user interface to the data, I will be interested to learn how it presents the data. What I will be looking for is how you can configure what information can be entered for a language and how you can relate information entered in one language to information in another.

There are several projects I am involved in that are anxious to learrn Ambaradan's potential. Many things have been on hold and for several projects alternatives are being looked at..

Ambaradan has surfaced, it may be great. At this stage there is not enough to go on.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A new user ,,, many new languages

A new user came to OmegaWiki and he wanted to add content in the Mayan languages. All of them "except that funny one from veracruz which only recently got classified as Mayan". All of them because this new user comes with an existing dictionary and this has "all of them".

Now the Mayan languages are not easily classified; The way Ethnologue had it is not how the ISO-639-3 has it at this time. This means that we will have to carefully understand what the relation is between the languages in the dictionaries and the codes maintained by SIL.

Monday, February 16, 2009

OmegaWiki has moved

The hosting of OmegaWiki is on a server by Knewco. Knewco has moved its servers from one location to another and as a consequence OmegaWiki would have been off line for a couple of days. This was not a good plan.

A friend of mine, Tom Maaswinkel, provided us with temporary server space. Kim Bruning, another friend, has done the migration. At this moment, the DNS has been changed and we are testing the new server.

Everything should be working smoothly again.

PS this is the 100th blog entry :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

What a difference a day makes

When you compare this screen shot with the one in my previous blog entry, you will agree that the right to left support has improved quite a lot.

One concern that has been raised is what the MediaWiki developers will say about this. It is obvious that there will be many people who get a different view and consequently the cache will be affected. My idea is that as this is about improved functionality, cache efficiency is secondary to a very large extend.

Right, to the left

OmegaWiki is a multi lingual environment. We have been proud to support your language. When your language is not supported, you can ask. When your language is not properly supported, you can make the difference.
There was one thing though.. Languages like Arabic or Hebrew should go right to left. They did not.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

artigo na Wikipédia

When you change the language in your user preferences, the presentation of the labels of the OmegaWiki data will change as well. It will tell you for instance where you can find the Wikipedia article in a given language.

The phrase "artigo na Wikipédia" is todays "Word of the day". Yesterday this translation was added and consequently the user interface for Portuguese became more complete.

Typically phrases like this can be found here, and yes you can make a difference too.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Malafaya had an itch

OmegaWiki suffered for quite some time from a missing functionality. Its annotations had gone away. This was really frustrating. Especially because nobody was looking after the maintenance of the OmegaWiki mark I database. This annoyance became too much and Malafaya started to look into the code. He found and fixed the problem.

Apparently it felt really good, and as there was this other annoyance, he had another look at the code. The trick will be to get the code in SVN. Once it is in SVN, updating OmegaWiki should not be a problem.