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Convert Sycamore and WikiSpot wikicode to Mediawiki format


Sycamore is the wiki software that powers, as well as a host of other services. As Wiki Spot is turning off its namesake service in a few weeks, a way out will be necessary for the users who need a new place to have a wiki.

This software converts wikicode from Sycamore syntax to MediaWiki. Mediawiki is the software best known for powering Wikipedia, but it is used on a large range of wikis, is actively developed, and is relatively secure. It's also kind of a mess in its internals, but this is because it's written in PHP and is highly customizable.


Production ready, or late beta. You should be able to use this to import a wiki and dump all of its files for import.

If there are problems, let me know and I'll patch it... or just run a bot to fix it up afterwards.

Not converted to mediawiki:

  • Geodata and maps
  • Events Board
  • access restrictions/ACL/permissions
  • user groups

No API: interwiki links.

If anyone needs to extract this data, open a ticket.

How to Use

I finally have a basic CLI utility. You can download the repository by git cloning the URL to your right. In there, there's a perl script called sycamore2mediawiki which does what it says on the tin.

The first argument to sycamore2mediawiki is an input file. If the input file is a XML file, it will attempt to convert the entire text of the Sycamore wiki dump into MediaWiki format. Otherwise, it will assume you gave it a page of wikitext that you want to convert from Sycamore to Mediawiki format.

The optional second argument is an output file. If omitted, the output is printed on the standard output (i.e. your terminal).

Convert a normal file:

> echo '  * ["A Link" Link]' > baz.txt
> ./sycamore2mediawiki baz.txt
** [[A Link|Link]]

Convert an XML dump:

> sycamore2mediawiki Wiki_dump.xml mediawiki_dump.xml files_output_directory

The last two arguments are optional here -- if you omit the output directory, files will be parsed for renaming, but not output.

Note that we're still in beta, so these transformations aren't perfect. Tests and feedback are welcome to get this perfect.

Known issues: crappy API. It's hard to be motivated to do a good design on a program that will have limited usefulness in 2 months.

XML Errors

If you get XML errors like parser error : PCDATA invalid Char value 3, consider running this snippet on your input XML file:

cat input.xml | perl -E ' while (<>) {  s/[\000-\037]+//g; say $_ }' > new_input.xml

That will remove all control characters, but then re-add the newline at the end of each line. Safe since you probably weren't using tabs for anything, and all wiki file data is encoded in base64.

Using this just to extract files

You can produce an XML output file which you then throw away, just to make an files directory. File names are the same as before, if unique, and with mediawiki metacharacters removed. (That is [/<>|]). If the name was not unique, the file name is prefixed with its original Sycamore page name and two tildes (~~).

Because of how badly Mediawiki handles file import -- it can only read a directory and add everything there to the wiki -- we only output the current, non-deleted revision of each file. There is currently no way of extracting previous versions of files, but you can probably figure out how if you need it. Or you know, click the issues icon to the right and ask me.

Incidentally, the files are encoded in base64, which makes for some pretty huge XML nodes. You can manually extract file information and pipe it to base64 on the command line, if you need.


So, this is written in Perl -- probably badly. I mean, at some point, I should probably make instances of this class work.

Anyway, if you want to convert wikicode, try:

my $newpage = MediaWiki::FromSycamore->convert_wikicode( $a_page_of_wiki_markup );

The other thing you might be interested in is changing the way Sycamore macros convert into new wikicode. We have a few defaults, but you might just want to choose a new template name for Mediawiki, or perhaps eliminate the content of said macros altogether.

# String version (simple transforms)
MediaWiki::FromSycamore->register_template( 'Address', 'streetaddress');
# changes "[[Address(123 Sesame Street)]]" to
# to "{{streetaddress|123 Sesame Street}}"

# Subroutine version (complex)
MediaWiki::FromSycamore->register_template( "nbsp",
	sub { '&nbsp;' });
# changes "[[nbsp]]" to "&nbsp;" in new version

The first argument passed to the sub given in register_template is the name of the macro, the second is an arrayref of the arguments.

There's more here, like XML dumps, but I'm too lazy to document right now, just look at sycamore2mediawiki.

Where to get new hosting

Personally, I recommend Orain as a non-profit, free host of Mediawiki wikis. Their service fits the same domain of wikis that Wikispot used to host. Orain does not use advertising.

Other options include ShoutWiki and Wikia. Wikia has great search engine coverage and a large community -- but once content goes up there, it will never ever come down. Wikia is know to be aggressive with advertising and keeping as much content as possible.

Development Plan

  • Get a parser working (done)
  • Write tests (mostly done)
  • Develop scripts that convert from Sycamore export format to Mediawiki format (done)
  • Make sure everything actually imports to Mediawiki (done!)


Brent Laabs


Convert Sycamore and WikiSpot wikicode to Mediawiki format







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