WBStack in 2021 and the future

2021 is nearly over, WBStack is over 2 years old (initially announced back in 2019), and has continued to grow. The future is bright with wikibase.cloud looking to be launched by Wikimedia Deutschland in the new year (announced at WikidataCon 2021), and as a result, the code under the surface has had the most eyes on it since its inception.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the developments this year, and the progress that WBStack has made.

Current Usage

WBStack now has 148 individual user accounts registered on the platform that enabled wiki creation. These accounts have created 510 wikis with Wikibase installed since the platform was initially put online, and 335 of those wikis are still currently published (the other 175 have been deleted).

Nov 2019April 2020May 2020Nov 2021Dec 2021
Platform Users387076139148
Non deleted Wikis145306335
All Wikis65178226476510
Pages1.4 million1.9 million
Edits200,000295,0004.1 million4.6 million
WBStack edits over time

Data in this table primarily comes from previous blog posts and has been consistently gathered by me over the lifetime of the project.

Across all of the 510 wikis that have been created over 4.6 million edits have been made to-date, on 1.9 million pages. Comparing this to Wikidata, that’s 10% of where Wikidata was after 2 years and 2% of where Wikidata is today.

Generally speaking, WBStack growth has been accelerating, and I’m pretty sure that is down to a more certain future for projects that start their life on the platform, as well as a few projects in particular really ramping up their growth.

Of course, I’m speaking mainly from a technical standpoint of a scaling platform, rather than saying anything about the content, quality or coverage. I know for a fact that a large proportion of WBStack wikis are test sites, sandboxing sites and trial projects.

WMDE developments

Wikibase as a Service was represented on the 2021 Wikimedia Deutschland roadmap for Wikibase (as it was in 2020). In 2021 this was initially called “Wikibase evaluation service (Wikibase as a Service MVP): Development”

We will build the Wikibase evaluation service, a way to instantly create a temporary Wikibase sandbox that will enable users to more quickly and easily evaluate if the software is a fit for their project. This is the MVP version of “Wikibase as a Service”. The goal of this MVP is to learn about the technical requirements and challenges of hosted Wikibases so that we can make decisions around a long-term strategy.

Development plan 2021

This commitment was one of the things that lead to the open-sourcing of the WBStack components at the end of 2020. The plan also lead to a continued investigation of the Wikibase as a Service space throughout 2021, and various bits of work being done on WBStack codebases by engineers.

This has included:

  • Enabling WBStack to power a Wikibase sandbox type feature which would allow users to create temporary Wikibases for quick prototyping, learning and experimentation
  • Adding the WikibaseManifest and Federated Properties features to the platform, along with a new configuration UI (which you can read about in a previous blog post)
  • Deployment work for the future wikibase.cloud service, which lead to improvements such as a dedicated helm charts repository, and many other code changes to WBStack components

wikibase.cloud

As announced at WikidataCon 2021 (program entry, slides, notes)…

Wikibase.Cloud is a new platform based on WBstack code, but managed and maintained by Wikimedia Germany.

It is a “Wikibase as a Service” platform that will offer open knowledge projects a new way to create Wikibases quickly and easily.

Wikibase.cloud is designed for projects that are interested in quick start-up and simplicity rather than those that will needRe a lot of customisation.

We are currently getting the platform set up and ready for users. We anticipate launching in early 2022.

Pre Launch Slides

Be sure to watch the wikibaseug mailing list or Wikibase / WBStack telegram channels for updates on this.

Transition

Once wikibase.cloud is launched I plan on helping existing WBStack users to migrate to the new WMDE owned and operated platform. We will wait until that moment to decide how best to cross that bridge though. It will be possible to keep all data, and domains/addresses if desired.

Alongside existing wikis being migrated, the codebases associated with WBStack will also start to be owned and stewarded by WMDE. This is essentially the wbstack github organization currently. Though I imagine the wbstack branding for the platform code may remain. All code should remain open source in line with the Wikimedia values.

Once all of the above is complete, I plan on finally turning off wbstack.com, at least in terms of its ability to host wikibases for folks, at some point in 2022.

Reflection

It’s been quite a journey, but the journey is not yet over. I look forward to finally reflecting on all of this when I don’t have to worry about this service as an individual anymore.

I’m very excited for what wikibase.cloud means for the future of Wikibase adoption, the Wikibase ecosystem and the future of linked open data on the web.

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