Elegant visual snapshots of expanses of knowledge

The ideal of beautiful print editions of article collections has inspired generations of Wikipedians, like centuries of encyclopedists before them.

German Wikipedia enthusiasts first took single topics and made WikiReaders out of them, finding a national publishing house willing to bind and distribute the results under the "WikiPress" label. They even considered printing a keywords and short descriptions for the entire encyclopedia, though that did not come to fruition.

Then in 2008, Håkon Lie (the original proposer of CSS, and a font and layout geek) spent time making his Prince XML tool generate beautiful PDFs out of Wikipedia pages. He has also dreamed of printing summaries of all Wikipedia articles in the style and layout of a traditional encyclopedia, and has joined our offline-wp mailing list.

PrinceXML's layout of the Norway article

And today Stefan Kuhn shared his latest script, called simply "The Book", which generates a multi-column view of a set of articles, with thumbnails and a bit of text. Like the short well-attributed summaries produced by Magnus's tool that I reviewed earlier, these efforts all try to convey the beauty and detail of a large work in a simple package.

The Book: KinoschKirk Hammett from the Luxembourgish Wikipedia

What are your favorite print layouts for dense knowledge? What variations on the "Wikipedia 1.0" and printed Wikipedia theme would you like to see come to pass?

1 comment:

  1. I guess the German project has been abandoned since PediaPress arrived. I would have loved to give it a try now.


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