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MediaWiki Skins Design (From Technologies to Solutions)

MediaWiki Skins Design (From Technologies to Solutions) [Kindle Edition]

Richard Carter
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

This book takes you step by step through customizing your MediaWiki skin. It is full of practical examples of MediaWiki skinning techniques, and clear explanations of how MediaWiki skinning works. The early chapters go through each element of a MediaWiki design, showing the CSS and PHP tags necessary to customize MediaWiki's appearance. Later chapters look at ways to further enhance your design using extra graphics, JavaScript, AJAX, dynamic CSS, and more. This book is aimed at web designers or wiki administrators who want to customize the look of MediaWiki with custom skins. The reader will already have a MediaWiki installation that they are targeting with their skin. It might be their own installation, or they might be a designer developing a custom look for a client. The book does not cover setting up or using MediaWiki, except features specifically related to skinning. The book assumes that you are familiar with CSS and HTML, but no prior knowledge of PHP is required.

About the Author

Richard Carter

Richard Carter started as a freelance web designer working in Leicestershire during his gap year. After meeting his business partner at Durham University, he co-founded Peacock Carter, a Newcastle-based creative partnership specializing in web design and development and corporate identity.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7802 KB
  • Print Length: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Packt Publishing (22 Aug 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0057UNEHY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #892,380 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Broad scope, for beginners and pros alike 5 Nov 2008
The book is aimed at web developers and designers who want to customise the look and feel of a standard MediaWiki installation. Carter recognises that most people will find the default theme, monobook, rather dull. Whilst it is used fairly effectively on the Wikipedia site, it soon becomes tiresome after the third or fourth MediaWiki powered site you visit. Carter ably demonstrates that following a few simple steps will put you well on your way to stamping your own identity on your wiki. My personal aim was to make our MediaWiki wikis use Open University branding and web styles and standards. The steps in this book made it a breeze.

The content of the book perhaps goes over and beyond the call of duty. Whilst it covers all the things you'd expect: layout, headers, navigational systems and other user interface elements, I wasn't expecting to find an entire chapter on integrating the software with social networking sites. Still, it was a nice surprise and actually incredibly useful. There's also a nice appendix on troubleshooting browser issues which includes fixes for the ancient Internet Explorer 5. Some might consider this sort of stuff outside the scope of the book. Indeed there are plenty of dedicated CSS and HTML web design books to thumb through at your local Waterstones but it's a nice touch that serves to indicate that the author really does live and breathe MediaWiki and web design.

The entire process of creating a MediaWiki skin in covered in relation to the book's case study, a fictional theme called JazzMeet. From planning (purpose and audience) through design (html, css, javascript) to development (php). Key subjects such as usability, information architecture and the various page states are well documented.

One personal irritation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Customising MediaWiki made easy 19 Sep 2008
"MediaWiki Skins Design" is a well-written, informative book that first explains to the reader what a MediaWiki site is, and why they would wish to change its appearance or "skin" to suit their particular application, and then the author proceeds to explain methodically how to go about customising the functions and look of your own site. There are many examples and illustrations, sadly not in colour but, however, adequate for their purpose.

A worked example is provided, together with a very welcome Troubleshooting section. Additionally, a guide is provided on integrating your MediaWiki application with social networking sites such as FaceBook and Twitter.

All in all, this is a very useful book for the student, beginner and professional.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Guide and the Only Book of Its Kind for the MediaWiki User Community 24 Dec 2008
By Jennifer Elrod - Published on
I wish I had this book when I first set out to design a MediaWiki skin for my own wiki. It would have saved me so much time and trouble. Nothing like this existed to my knowledge when I set out to make my skins. Documentation is often the weakest link in the open source community. This book fills an important gap that should democratize MediaWiki even more, making it more appealing to a wider swath of the web population.

The book follows my favorite format for a technical guide, taking the reader step by step through an example that resembles the kind of thing you'd want to do in real life. It breaks down everything thoroughly with plenty of pictures. Topics covered include not only CSS but also MediaWiki PHP functions that are integrated into a MediaWiki skin. As a bonus, there is information on adding on some of the latest widgets that Web 2.0 has to offer, from thickbox to twitter. To make your skin a real professional class act, you can even learn exactly how to use licensing and copyright options and exactly how to make your skin printer friendly. If you're going to be spending any time messing with MediaWiki skin design, and you're like me and don't have time to spend hours spinning your wheels, do yourself a favor and get a copy of this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars your wiki looks different from Wikipedia? 28 Aug 2010
By W Boudville - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Why should you read this book? MediaWiki is the free open source package that powers Wikipedia. So if you are inclined to have a wiki on your website, MediaWiki is a good choice, as the performance of Wikipedia means that MediaWiki has been well tested and is immensely scalable. Carter focuses on how to customise the user interface. MediaWiki comes with several skins, and of these, Standard is used by Wikipedia. The others are essentially more rudimentary as the text explains.

The main motivation for reading this book then becomes whether you might, or rather should, want to differentiate your wiki's user interface from Wikipedia. And indeed whether to distinguish it from other wikis that have deliberately mimicked Wikipedia's look and feel. There are good arguments for either approach, though the book doesn't really go into why you might want to copy Wikipedia. In the latter case, there is no need for the book.

So suppose you want a totally different look. The text discusses how many features can be tweaked or even removed. The removal of functionality might seem bad. But some aspects might not be appropriate for your particular content choices. And Wikipedia's list of features could be daunting if you want readers of your wiki to also contribute content.

The book's examples involve applying CSS, XHTML and PHP. Previous knowledge of these is expected, and of course of HTML itself. Treat the book as an advanced lesson in how these are integrated into an exceedingly non-trivial application. Plus you can see how MediaWiki can be combined with social bookmarking and Twitter. These can enhance the appeal of your website.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book on how to customize the look and feel of MediaWiki 20 Nov 2008
By K. Coombs - Published on
This book is a terrific thorough overview of how to customize the layout, design, look and feel of a MediaWiki wiki. It provides an overview of "skins" and their purposes. Then delves deeply into the nitty gritty providing a detailed walkthrough of how to make MediaWiki look like an example site which he created. One of the things I like best about this book is that the author outlines which CSS classes control which elements within the template. This is extremely helpful because MediaWiki uses an overly complex stylesheet. He also outlines key functions which are part of the MediaWiki template. Using an understanding of these functions designers can move elements around on the page or eliminate them completely. The latter half of the book shifts focus to adding more attractive design elements, creating a dynamic UI, and adding media. The discussion of these topics is extremely helpful because most websites today have an engaging user interface and media-rich pages. The discussion of how to embed content from video sites such as YouTube, and social bookmarking sites such as Furl is particularly good. I was also happy to see a chapter on creating print stylesheets for MediaWiki. Many wikis are used for documentation purposes and without a good print stylesheet printing often can be a problem.

Overall, this is a great book for designers who want to customize the look and feel of MediaWiki, create a more dynamic user interface and add media. I wish I had it as a reference when I was working on MediaWiki and I'll certainly use tips from it in my MediaWiki sites in the future.
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a book for beginners 16 Aug 2010
By DAVID W SHENK - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book assumes you know CSS, so if you don't, you'll need to get a CSS reference book to go along with it. It does not explain the CSS it is using, it just jumps in head-first. I found the technical level of the book a little varied as knowledge of CSS and HTML is required, yet the author spends time explaining what a URL is toward the end of the book. Really? While another reviewer likes the way the book teaches by going through an example, I don't think I like this technique as the author brings up ideas only specific to the skin he's working on. What is needed is a more general treatment of how things are tweeked and their effect. I want to create a skin that does not look at all like a wiki if you're not logged in. I'm not sure this book will be much help as they were not doing that in the example wiki.

Another section talks about how to change color to emphasize elements and follows with pages of monochrome images that all look about the same. Did the author forget that the book would not be printed in color? There are also several double word typos here and there.

In summary, once I become more familiar with CSS I think I can get some use out of this book. It does contain a lot of valuable information specific to MediaWiki. It's not perfect, but I think it is a good start and a book many will find useful if they are already familiar with CSS.
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