Wikitext standard

A single wikitext standard is of great importance for the long-term stability of the MediaWiki software. We need to describe and formalize a 1.0 version of the Wikitext language, based on what is used currently. In other words this work should not (for right now) involve incorporating improvements or changes to the Wikitext language. Releases must be stable and predictable so that other software developers can work to the same markup syntax, and know for sure that they will not be facing random or arbitrary changes for some fixed time period, like a year. This suggests there may be wikitext 2005, wikitext 2006 and so on.

Metaweb was tracking which mediawiki sites are doing what best. Wikipedia won't always be the furthest ahead on an issue, nor should its needs necessarily always trump others in the mediawiki software design effort. For instance Wikitravel may do better on geography and map issues. The first useful map and underlying data standards like an ecoregion DTD and spacetime DTD may be easier to work on there, where these are more central issues. Other subtasks like a person DTD may become WikiProjects undertaken by a disciplined group of scholars who know, or want to know, everything about documenting people.


  1. Write a markup spec
  2. Write an efficient Wikitext to HTML converter, to replace the current PHP code.
  3. Write a set of unit tests to validate the correctness of a Wikitext to HTML converter.
  1. Write a Wikitext DTD that can serve as a canonical translation of Wikitext <=> XML, for further processing by XML tools. Or use this XML Schema.
  2. Write a Wikitext to XML converter.
    • Evaluate wt2db.
    • Or use WebBot, A PLT Scheme package that acts as a Bot on MediaWiki and contains the parser to convert WikiText to the given XML Schema.

Publishing the Standard


A clear standard can be published and supported by other wikis, like MoinMoinWiki (python-based) and tikiwiki (see sourceforge), which are very popular, and more extensible than mediawiki, which has serious structural problems

Even if mediawiki can keep up with those other packages, text import/export has to be one of our priorities, given the objectives of this project to become a central GNU FDL repository of trusted text for use all over the place.

The Wikimedia activities shouldn't be in any way trapped or tied to MediaWiki, if drastically better software emerges from tikiwiki or the Python world. And it will, eventually.

Long Term Plans

  1. when things settle down, say wikitext standard 2007, then:
  2. create a consortium of all users, developers of various types of software, including chat and email based systems that incorporate features like Trillian Instant Lookup - not all users of Wikipedia use a web browser
  3. agree on a simple ideology of Wikitax to make it easy for content generated elsewhere to quickly become wiki pages
  4. develop a unified base boot like KnoppixTiki that supports the new standard so it can be used for any kind of data storage like in a PIM
  5. stabilize and publish something like wikitext 2008 as a real RFC
  6. aim for wikitext 2009 or wikitext 2010 to be an ITU standard

See also: meta:Simple ideology of Wikitax, meta:Wikitext DTD, meta:Person DTD, meta:Ecoregion DTD, meta:Spacetime DTD