The last week was a big week for expanding offline Wikipedia work.
Right now, offline refers to supporting read access to Wikimedia content without an Internet connection. This increases the reach of the Wikipedia movement by providing more opportunities for people all over the world to access the materials. Some of the recent initiatives surrounding this project were documented in Wikimedia’s tech blog about a month ago (for more detail regarding the purpose for offline work, see the offline strategy page).
In support of our offline readership work, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of a new feature on Wikipedia developed with our partners from PediaPress. Last week we enabled ZIM export (the main file format in which offline materials are stored) for the existing PediaPress collections extension on English Wikipedia and numerous other wikis. This means that individuals can now use the existing PediaPress Create a book tool and download it in a format which can be read offline (via an offline reader, such as Kiwix). This is important because it opens new avenues for the creation of offline materials, for example, an openZim library hosting different offline “book” options.
Also, the English offline collection Wikipedia 0.8 was made officially available, after much hard work by the Wikipedia 1.0 Editorial Team. This collection is an iteration in the process of developing a vetted collection of offline articles selected based on their quality and topical importance. The main constraint with an offline product is the data size restrictions: the entirety of Wikipedia must somehow be condensed so that it fits on a CD, DVD, or USB stick. Wikipedia 1.0 aims at creating the highest quality and most valuable subset of Wikipedia to meet those size requirements, and v0.8 is a precursor. Wikipedia 0.8 is a general collection of just under 50K articles, It is available for Mac, PC, or Linux with a Linux or Okawix reader; some mobile phone versions will be available later this month as well.
More updates are sure to come on this offline front: Wikimedians around the world are actively assisting in the development of offline collections as well as distribution. We are excited to support and document the momentum going forward.
Jessie Wild, Global Development