Funding proposals/Print web service

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This wiki page is being used to develop the requirements and specifications for a print web service for the creation of printed educational materials from free content developed collaboratively using wiki technology.

Use case scenarios

The use cases presented here are fictitious, however at a technical level they are possible when compared to the wealth of free content to be found in numerous wiki projects adminstered by the Wikimedia foundation, and commercial equivalents of producing printed materials from Wikipedia articles.

These use cases show what is technically possible and are being used to develop requirements and specifications for a project to produce an open source Web Service for printed educational materials from free content wiki projects.

Wazobia creates printed materials for his pupils in Nigeria

Wazobia, a teacher in a rural village in Nigeria is planning an assignment on waterborne diseases for his grade 10 class. The school has no textbooks, computer lab or connectivity.

Last Saturday when visiting the cyber cafe at the nearby town to check his gmail account for an expected email from his sister who is studying in South Africa, he searched Wikipedia and found three articles: Safe water (; Drinking water (; and Water Pollution (

Wazobia also visited WikiEducator and found an example of a Worksheet to measure and monitor the levels of water pollution in a local stream. This worksheet was compiled by a group of teachers in Kenya. Unfortunately the examples were not appropriate for his class. He created a new page on WikiEducator, copied the text from the worksheet example and adapted this by changing the names to the two streams close to his home village. He made a mental note to loan his cousin's new mobile phone to take a photo of the local streams, and transfer this to a memory stick for uploading onto Wikieducator on his next visit to the cyber café.

On Wikieducator and Wikipedia, there was a link to the Chisimba Wiki Print Service. He entered the four urls and compiled a activity workbook. He was able to customise this by adding his own title and subtitle. He also added his name as the editor of this compilation and was rather chuffed, because this was the first book he had edited. The web service produced a pdf file with a professional looking layout.

The web service prompted Wazobia to save his workbook, which he called “Water pollution and Safe Drinking Water: A Group Assignment for Grade 10”. He was also given the option of saving an ODT file, and wasn't sure what this was for, but nonetheless saved the pdf and odt file onto his usb memory stick, which he used for saving copies of his email communications.

On leaving the cyber café he noticed a small shop run by a local business entrepreneur with a sign: “Print and telephone services”. Producing his memory stick the attended informed him that they could print copies of the pdf file for him. I did not have enough money to produce a copy for every child in his class, but seeing as though this was a group assignment, his pupils would be able to share copies of the worksheet guidebook.

Later Wazobia found out that he could edit and change the information of his workbook using Open Office and the odt file, without needing to tackle the long walk to the cyber café. This was useful, because feedback from his pupils after completing the project had generated a few useful additions for field assignment activities.

In Open Office, he exported his latest modifications changes as a pdf for printing on his next visit to the nearby town. When next vistiting the cyber café Wazobia decided to add his new questions to the original page he created on Wikieducator -- almost a year ago since he created his first book. He was surprise to find that teachers from Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania had added a number of interesting learning activities to his first worksheet. He decided to create a new workbook with the Chisimba Print Web Service.

Teacher education centre at Kenyata University installs Chisimba Print Web Service facility

The Teacher Education Centre has installed Tuxlab computer laboratory from refurbished computers. The computer lab uses Linux thin client technology (open source software) and savings from licensing costs on campus have enabled the University to invest in a new server to improve the performance of the older desktop machines. Internet connectivity is unreliable, slow and very expensive.

In preparation for the 6-week practical, student teachers are required to prepare a number of lessons and supporting resources, which will be presented at local schools as part of their formal training and assessment. The University has downloaded a local copy of Wikipedia and WikiEducator and the workstations can connect directly to this free content without the requirement for permanent Internet connections.

The systems administrator of the computer laboratory is an active member of the Avoir network, an African collaboration project between various universities to create a core of Free Software developers. She read a recent posting of the new release of the Chisimba Print Web service developed by the Free Software Innovation Unit at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. The Chisimba Framework has packaged the Print Web Service so that only the relevant code modules need to be downloaded and installed at the Tuxlab – a free software LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) configuration, already used by the computer laboratory. The systems administrator has downloaded and installed a local copy of the Chisimba Print Webservice.

The computer laboratory now has the capability for student teachers to prepare printed education materials for use in their upcoming classroom practicals. Each student is able to prepare a customised lesson with corresponding print materials without incurring additional costs for this level of customisation.

Brainstorming requirements

  • Chisimba wiki exports a web service for building pages from its wiki (and any other content pages, including course content, CMS, discussion thread, etc)
  • Media wiki exports a web service for building a page
  • Chisimba can query such a web service and build aggregated content, one format of which will be a PDF book with table of contents, page index, etc.
  • Any other application is also free to consume this webservice or export its own webservice for us to discover and consume.


Resources and ideas