Monthly Archives: September 2009

Getting content into and out of wikis

As wikis mature, we’re using them for more complex business cases such as technical documentation, business analysis and project management. It’s becoming more and more interesting, if not essential, for wikis to support the import and export of content to and from other formats. Most wikis allow you to convert their pages at least to PDF and HTML. But what of other formats, and what about tools for getting content into wikis as well as out of them?

For the past couple of months I’ve been writing myself notes whenever I see mention of such a tool. Now I’ve added a bit of web searching to the mix. Here’s the resulting motley collection of tools that convert to/from wikis to/from wherever/whatever. It’s by no means complete, its order is decidedly random, and it focuses on Confluence and MediaWiki more than on other wikis, because Confluence is the wiki I use and MediaWiki is a biggie. If you know of other tools not mentioned here, I’d love it if you add a comment to this post.

What’s not in this post

I haven’t included the various widgets, gadgets and macros that allow you to include content onto a wiki page dynamically from another source, so that the external content is displayed to the user when the wiki page is rendered. Examples of these not-included tools are dynamically-rendered RSS feeds, Twitter feeds, extracts of code from source repositories, etc.

Rather, I’m looking at tools that convert an entire document or set of documents from one output format to another.

Converting from a wiki to something

Tool What it does What it is
Mylyn WikiText Converts from wiki markup (MediaWiki, Textile, Confluence, TracWiki and TWiki) to HTML, Eclipse Help, DocBook, DITA and XSL-FO. An Eclipse plugin plus a parser toolkit, Ant tasks and API. Mylyn WikiText can be installed into Eclipse or used as a stand-alone tool.
Maven Doxia Converter Converts from a number of input formats (APT, Confluence, DocBook, FML, TWiki, xdoc, XHTML) to a number of output formats (APT, Confluence, DocBook, XSL-FO, iText, LaTeX, RTF, TWiki, xdoc, XHTML). An extension to Doxia, the documentation framework used by Maven.
Scroll Wiki Exporter Exports from Confluence wiki to DocBook-XML and PDF. A Confluence plugin.
Confluence space export Exports Confluence pages to PDF, HTML or XML. (The XML is a Confluence-specific format) Tools built into Confluence.
Confluence Office Connector Allows you to use Microsoft Office or OpenOffice to edit a Confluence page; import an Office document into Confluence, converting its content to wiki format; attach an Office document to a Confluence page and display its content in Confluence, without converting the content; edit the attached document in the Office application, directly from the Confluence page. A Confluence plugin, also bundled with Confluence itself by default.
Universal Wiki Converter Converts from a number of wikis (TWiki, PmWiki, DokuWiki, Mediawiki, MoinMoin, Jotspot, Tikiwiki, Jspwiki, Sharepoint, SWiki, Vqwiki, XWiki, Trac, SMF) to Confluence. Binaries and a command-line script to run the tool.
OpenDocument Export Exports single pages or collections from MediaWiki to OpenDocument Text format (.odt). MediaWiki extension.
PDF Export Lets you view MediaWiki pages as PDF. MediaWiki extension.
PdfBook Composes a book from MediaWiki articles in a category and exports as a PDF file. MediaWiki extension.
KML Export Generates KML files for Google Earth from content in MediaWiki article pages. MediaWiki extension.
Wiki2LaTeX Exports Mediawiki-articles to LaTeX and PDF. MediaWiki extension.

Converting from something to a wiki

Tool What it does What it is
Maven Doxia Converter Converts from a number of input formats (APT, Confluence, DocBook, FML, TWiki, xdoc, XHTML) to a number of output formats (APT, Confluence, DocBook, XSL-FO, iText, LaTeX, RTF, TWiki, xdoc, XHTML). An extension to Doxia, the documentation framework used by Maven.
HTML-to-wiki-converter Allows you to enter raw HTML online, and convert it to Confluence, DokuWiki, GoogleCode, JSPWiki, Kwiki, Markdown. MediaWiki, MoinMoin, Oddmuse, PhpWiki, PmWki, SnipSnap, Socialtext, TikiWiki, Usemod, WakkaWiki, Wikispaces, WikkaWiki, XWiki A web site.
WebWorks ePublisher Converts from Microsoft Word, FrameMaker and DITA-XML to Confluence, MoinMoin or MediaWiki (as well as a number of non-wiki formats) A publishing platform.
DITA2wiki/DITA2Confluence Publishes DITA content (maps and topics) to Confluence wiki. A toolkit in the form of binaries and configuration files. You edit the configuration files then use Ant to run the conversion.
Confluence Office Connector Allows you to use Microsoft Office or OpenOffice to edit a Confluence page; import an Office document into Confluence, converting its content to wiki format; attach an Office document to a Confluence page and display its content in Confluence, without converting the content; edit the attached document in the Office application, directly from the Confluence page. A Confluence plugin, also bundled with Confluence itself by default.
Universal Wiki Converter Converts from a number of wikis (TWiki, PmWiki, DokuWiki, Mediawiki, MoinMoin, Jotspot, Tikiwiki, Jspwiki, Sharepoint, SWiki, Vqwiki, XWiki, Trac, SMF) to Confluence. Binaries and a command-line script to run the tool.
HTML to Confluence Converter Converts a web page (HTML source) into Confluence markup. A PHP script and a Confluence macro.
MsWordToTWiki add-on Converts from Microsoft Word to TWiki. A VBA script to convert from Word to HML, and a Perl script to convert from HTML to TWiki markup.
CopyMsOfficeTable add-on Copies a table from an Office program (OpenOffice or MS Office) to TWiki. This is just one of a few listed in the TWiki add-on pages. A TWiki add-on.
Sun Wiki Publisher Publishes from StarOffice or OpenOffice to MediaWiki. OpenOffice extension.
RoboHelp2Wiki Converts from RoboHelp to MediaWiki. MediaWiki extension.
Custom tools developed by IBM Anne Gentle’s book, Conversation and Community (page 165), describes how IBM uses XSL and DITA to convert content from Framemaker to Mediawiki. Custom tools developed by IBM.
Calc2Dokuwiki Exports a selected ranges of cells to tables in Dokuwiki syntax. OpenOffice extension.

Wow, so many?

Yes, and more. My list is just a start! From the number of tools already being used and under development, it’s clear that this is one of the growth areas for wikis in the next year or so. Some of the tools above are already a core part of one or more wikis. Others are stand-alone, fully-featured and well supported publishing or authoring platforms. And still others are plugins, extensions or add-ons created by the “ecosystem” of talented developers that surround and support wikis.

At this time, it’s a case of caveat explorator, for anyone needing to convert their documents to or from a wiki. Especially if you need to convert your content regularly as part of your authoring and publishing workflow, it’s worthwhile doing some in-depth investigation before using some of the tools mentioned above. Even more so if you’re looking for a “round-trip” conversion, where you need to convert from one format to another and then back again without losing content or formatting.

On the other hand, many of the above tools are already much used and well supported. It’s an exciting area for anyone interested in or already using wikis. Please let me know about all the tools I’ve missed. :)

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