Large online encyclopedia using wiki

How do you publish a large lexicon online containing mathematical formulas for a demanding audience? Springer decided on the wiki proposed by TWT Digital Health.

Springer, one of the largest scientific publishers worldwide, was founded in 1842. Today Springer is the world’s largest STM online provider and is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a trade-publishing group with 70 publishers in 19 countries. Springer Science+Business Media employs 5,000 employees worldwide.

Springer continuously expands its market reach through successful partnerships with scientific and professional societies. One of these is the European Mathematical Society, which incorporates institutions, national associations and leading mathematicians from across Europe. Springer started an online encyclopedia project for this audience of scientific experts in 2010. In order for the content to be not only read, but also edited directly in a web browser, the publisher decided to create the encyclopedia based on the wiki software MediaWiki , which Wikipedia is also built on.

A wiki with special requirements

The mathematical symbols made for a particularly demanding implementation. Finally, TWT Digital Health was selected due to its many years of experience with wikis. TWT Digital Health implemented an online wiki version of "Meyers Lexikon" for the Bibliographische Institut publishing house in 2007–08.

From print to Web 2.0

The Encyclopedia of Mathematics was available as a printed edition with a small online edition, which was manually maintained by an editorial team. The aim of the wiki project was to take over the existing elements and develop them into a modern Web 2.0 application, which could be maintained by several users in different locations.

The particular challenge of this project was the complex conversion of raw data into a MediaWiki-compatible format. The integration of Mathjax (www.mathjax.org)and Asymptote, a vector graphics language, made it possible to correctly embed even complex mathematical formulas in HTML code. In addition, various functions for scientific citations in accordance with the publisher’s guidelines were implemented.

"The Encyclopedia of Mathematics was enthusiastically received by its target audience," said Bert Brückmann, Project Manager at TWT Digital Health. The Encyclopedia of Mathematics has since established itself as one of the world’s most comprehensive online professional encyclopedias. TWT Digital Health is also responsible for its ongoing technical maintenance and support, including workflow and permissions management, which was implemented in MediaWiki in accordance with the publisher’s specifications.

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