The Offline Reader Expedition is a Wikitravel Expedition to make it possible to download and use Wikitravel articles off-line (not connected to the Internet), especially on a personal digital assistant (PDA).
Wikitravel has two main target media: online use over the World Wide Web, and offline use in hardcopy (paper) form. It's possible, however, to have electronic files that you can read on a computer or a PDA even when you aren't connected to the Internet (shocking!). This could be very useful for some travellers (although there are plenty of us who don't have the luxury of owning a portable computer or PDA). Being able to navigate through a number of articles with a hand-held device could make it a lot easier to get around.
- To define one or more target formats for off-line reading
- To define the desired user interface for obtaining and using Wikitravel articles
There are a few main off-line readers for PDAs. Most define their own file format, although some can read plain text files and HTML files.
- Palm Doc No particular reader. These are native plain-text files for Palm devices -- no images or hyperlinks.
- AvantGo http://www.avantgo.com/ Proprietary software. Does images and hyperlinks, widely supported by Web content providers.
- TomeRaider http://www.tomeraider.com/ Shareware program. There's already been some work to make Wikipedia available in TomeRaider format, but it's the entire database. Also, no images are supported.
- Plucker http://www.plkr.org/ Free Software. This has some nice features, including better support of images. It also has software included for generating new Plucker pages, which might be useful for Wikitravel.
- HWiki http://www.hexlet.com/Products/hwiki.html Proprietary Software. This is PalmOS version of Wiki browser/editor. It understands TWiki flavor of Wiki syntax.
- DICT http://www.dict.org/links.html together with Wik2dict. Several free (as in speech) servers and clients available. Plain text, no images, though includes links.
Of these, Plucker seems like the nicest one. It's being actively worked on, and it is Free Software,
and that means that you can use it without charge, that you can give it away to others, and that you can even modify the program (or pay others to do it for you) to customize it or add the features you want.
There are several levels of UI we can provide.
- Download a single article. The user would be able to download a single article in Plucker format. The link for Plucker download would be next to the "Printable version" link.
- Download a group of articles. Most travellers won't be going to just one place. It'd be nice if they could add articles to a "shopping cart" of some kind, and then download all the articles in their "cart" at once.
- Update articles offline. Of course, the dream scenario is that Wikitravellers could download articles to their local computer or PDA, edit the articles on the road, and then upload the edited versions when they get back to an Internet connection. This is probably a little pie-in-the-sky, but it sure would make sure we had up-to-date info.