Wikipedia gets a makeover

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Wikipedia gets a makeover

New site to enable pdf, book creation.

Changes are planned to Wikimedia Foundation Web sites next month to allow all Wikipedia visitors to export the encyclopaedic content to pdf or printed book format.

The new layout is scheduled to be deployed in April and aims to improve the usability and user experience of Wikipedia.

Beginning next Monday, sites including Wikipedia's media repository, Wikimedia Commons, will be migrated to the new 'Vector' theme.

The new layout has been in development since January 2009. It simplified site navigation, and includes a built-in 'cheatsheet' to facilitate editing pages.

Wikimedia Foundation's head of user experience programs Naoko Komura expects the new layout to work better with different resolutions and satisfy user expectations in line with other web standards.

"Provided that we don't encounter major hiccups with this first roll-out, we are planning deployment of the changes to Wikipedia in late April, beginning with the English Wikipedia, followed by other languages," Komura wrote on the Wikimedia blog.

Users of the new English site also will be able to create PDF files and printed books from Wikipedia articles -- a service which was previously restricted to logged-in users only through a 2007 partnership with German start-up

Future changes will introduce an improved interface for uploading images and video, and searching the Wikimedia multimedia repository.

"Our overarching objective is to make it easier to find and contribute knowledge in Wikipedia and its sister projects," Komura wrote.

"Volunteer participation is the essence of everything we do; our job is to facilitate and support that volunteer work. Continually improving the experience our projects is now a core mandate of the Wikimedia Foundation."

The Wikimedia Foundation recently won a US$2m grant from Google to improve Wikipedia and invest in technical infrastructure.

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