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mvs - A command line Mediawiki client


  mvs [Options] command [Options] [filename]

  mvs -h|--help
  mvs --version
  mvs -D

  mkdir wikistuff
  cd wikistuff

  mvs [-q|-v] login [-T] [-d <wikihost>] [-l language_code ] [-u <username>] [-p <password> ] [-w <wiki_path>] 

  mvs [-q|-v] update [<file> ..]
  mvs [-q|-v] up [<file> ..]

  mvs [-q|-v] commit [-M] [-W] -m "commit message" <file>
  mvs [-q|-v] com [-M] [-W] -m "commit message" <file>
  mvs [-q|-v] preview [-M] [-W] [-m "commit message"] <file>


mvs is a command line client whose purpose is to simplify offline editing of Wiki content. It allows you to get any number of pages from a given Mediawiki site, edit the pages with any editor, get and merge any concurrent updates of the pages, and then safely commit the users own changes back to the version of the page on the server.

The mvs commands which take a filename argument only accept a single filename as so to avoid taking up too much server bandwidth.

Note:Users of mvs from before version 0.27 will notice that in this documentation the options are mostly listed after the mvs sub-command. This makes mvs behave more like cvs, svn, or tla, and so should make it easier for people who are used to using those programs. If you prefer to use mvs the old way, that will still work, at least for the next few versions.


Step 1: Create an account on the Mediawiki server.

This should be done the normal way, by visiting the Mediawiki website to which you want to contribute and creating a new account, setting the preferences, etc.

It should hopefully go without saying that you will want to become familiar with the editorial, usage, and copyright guidelines of the site. You should probably also make some contributions through the normal UI, and learn about following recent changes before contributing using mvs.

In addition for the sake of this test you should already have a user page like User:<username> with something on it, where <username> is the user name with which you established the account.

Step 2: Create a working directory

mvs works with Mediawiki formatted files with a .wiki extension and which are stored together with server information in a working directory. You will have to have at least one working directory for each Mediawiki site to which you contribute.

Simply use mkdir or the equivalent to make a new directory, and then before cd into that directory.

  mkdir wikitravel.en
  cd wikitravel.en

All of the operations below should be done from this directory.

Step 3: Login using mvs login

To use login you will need to know the hostname for the Mediawiki site to which you want to contribute.

Now use the host with your username and password to login.

  mvs login -d -u <username> -p 'secret'

If mvs knows about your Mediawiki host it will set set the wiki_path to the correct default for that server. In this case it will also be able to select the language version of that Wiki for you if you specify a language_code:

  mvs login -d -l fr -u <username> -p 'secret' 

The code must match the one which your wiki host uses for a given language, and of course the language version must exist for the given host.

If your Mediawiki install uses a nonstandard path to the wiki script you can specify it on login. The path to the wiki script is the part of the URL after the host name, and before the '?':

  mvs login \
    -d \
    -u <username> \
    -p 'secret' \
    -w 'mw/wiki.phtml'

You can change the edit and action paths in the created .mediawiki file after successful login accordingly.

Now anything you submit to the Mediawiki server will be credited to user "<username>".

NOTE: If you have been using an earlier version of mvs you should probably delete the .mediawiki file in your working directory.

Step 4: Use mvs update to fetch one or more working files

You can fetch existing material off of the site, or create new pages with mvs update, remembering that your files will need a .wiki extension:

  mvs update User:<username>.wiki User:<username>/

This should produce the output:

  U User:<username>.wiki
  A User:<username>/

The U (for Updated) means that User:<username> was found on the server and its contents inserted into the local files. The A (for Added) means that the User:<username>/ page does not yet exist on the server, and will be added when you run mvs commit.

Note that both of the pages we are working with are within your User Namespace. It's probably a good idea to restrict yourself to working with such pages while you are experimenting with mvs

Step 5: Edit the files to make corrections and contributions

Use your favorite text editor to edit the files. You might want to check out this page to see if there is a Mediawiki syntax highlighting file for your editor:

Of course if you don't find a highlighting file for you editor you are welcome to create one and submit it to the page above.

Step 6: Use mvs commit to submit your changes

When you are done editing a file and would like to submit your changes to the wiki server use mvs commit to do so:

  mvs commit -m 'commit message' User:<username>.wiki

Where 'commit message' is whatever you want to say about the changes you are submitting and why. You must provide a commit message or mvs commit will fail. You might also find that mvs commit fails complaining that the file has changed on the server. If this is the case you will need to use mvs update again to get the most recent changes.

Step 7: Update your wiki files

You can use mvs update again at any time to reconcile any of your files with the most recent changes from the server. Your changes will not be overwritten, but rather mvs will try to merge any server changes into the files as they exist in your working directory. Note that update and commit only work on one file at a time, as so to help prevent accidents and server congestion.

If for some reason there is a conflict, i.e. you and someone else have made changes which appear to be incompatible, and cannot be resolved then your file will contain a conflict message, as detailed in the documentation for mvs update below. You must resolve any conflicts before attempting to use mvs commit on the file. This is usually a very simple matter of choosing one version of the change or another. You should use your best judgement, consulting the relevant Talk: page to try to work out an agreement with the other contributor in cases where you just simply disagree.


You can continue editing and committing changes with the files in your working directory. It might be a good idea for you to eventually create multiple working directories per site, perhaps grouping them by subject. This will work fine with mvs since it does not need to have a complete copy of all of the pages from a given server in a given working directory to work.


All of your .wiki files should be stored with UTF-8 encoding. Upon login to a given server mvs will determine the encoding used by that server, and will upload in that encoding only. For servers using non-UTF-8 character sets you should use HTML entities for any character you want to represent which is outside of the server's character set. This includes the english Wikipedia. Most newer Mediawiki sites however do use UTF-8, on these sites HTML entities are never needed.



The first argument after the options should be one of the following two commands:

mvs login

Allows the user to login to the Mediawiki server using an existing login and password for that server. After calling login all commits from the same working directory will be logged as from the logged-in user.

mvs update

Updates the specified file[s] with content from the Mediawiki server. If a file does not exist it is created and populated with the current online version. If there is no online version, the file either created and left blank, or just left as it is. If there is content in both the specified file and in the corresponding Wiki page, an attempt is made to merge the two, line by line. Files which are the same as the server version are ignored.

If no filenames are given on the command line, all visible files with the .wiki extension are processed.

Conflicting changes to a given line are detected on the basis of the date of the most recent update of the local file and date of the most recent change to the online Wiki page. If a line has changed in both the online page and the local file it is flagged as a conflict, as in CVS, but with a slightly different syntax:

  ********************Start of conflict 1  Insert to Primary, Insert to Secondary ************************************************************

  The line as it appears on the server


  The line as it appears locally
  ********************End of conflict 1********************************************************************************

mvs update reports the status of files which it touches to STDERR with a letter indicating the file status, and then name of the file, again like CVS. The status letters are:

= (Unchanged)

The file is the same as the page on the server.

A (Added)

The file will become a new page on the wiki server.

M (Modified)

The file has been modified locally.

U (Updated)

The file has been updated with changes from the wiki server.

C (Conflicts)

The file contains conflict markers.

? (Unknown)

Neither the file, nor a corresponding server page exist.


Commits any changes in the specified local file to the Wiki site. A check is made first to make sure that there are no changes on the server more recent than the most recent update. Nothing will be comitted if the file and server version are identical.

When running mvs commit you must use the -m flag to send a commit message to the Mediawiki server. e.g.:

  mvs commit -m 'Added Hotel Eldorado'

This command functions identically to mvs commit, except that nothing is actually committed. Instead, the file is uploaded and the Mediawiki server sends back a formatted preview. The -m flag is optional. If you set the MVS_BROWSER environmental variable to the path and filename of your favorite browser, mvs will launch it with the preview page.


This command removes any local version reference files relating to pages you've deleted.

  mvs clean

File names

Any additional arguments are taken as local filenames to be processed. The local filename of a given Mediawiki page will be the same as its URL encoded name with the extension ".wiki". If no arguments are given then any filenames with the "wiki" extension and under the current directory are processed.



Display usage information.


Print information about known Mediawiki servers, then exit.


Causes the command to be quiet. Informational messages are suppressed.

-u "<username>"

Specifies a username for mvs login.

-p "<password>"

Specifies a password for mvs login.

-l "<language_code>"

The language code the wiki server uses to differentiate between language versions.

-m "<your message>"

A commit message for mvs commit. Use this to explain the nature of your changes.

-s "<your message>"

Same as -m

--minor <yes|no|default>

Choose whether to mark change as a minor edit. The default is to mark changes as minor if the Mediawiki user profile is set to do so by default. Use this when committing a change with mvs commit or previewing with mvs preview.


Same as --minor yes.

--watch <yes|no|keep|default>

Choose whether to add the edited page to your watchlist. Specifying keep will maintain the current watched status. The default is to watch the page if it is already being watched, or if the Mediawiki user profile is set to do so by default. Use this when committing a change with mvs commit or previewing with mvs preview.


Same as --watch yes.

-w "<wiki path>"

The path on the given host to the Mediawiki script. This defaults to wiki/wiki.phtml which is correct for a vanilla install of Mediawiki 1.4.x.


Verbose. If this is set mvs will give you lots of extra information about what it's doing. The -q flag overrides this.



The browser you prefer to use for previewing changes.


A proxy server to use (if any), expressed as a standard URL, something like this:

  export HTTP_PROXY=http://[username:password@]


This is an early version of this program. Future versions may have major differences which will effect your ability to use them interchangeably with this one. In particular the initial "command" arguments may become options and the handling of conflicts might change dramatically.


Please submit bug reports to the CPAN bug tracker at


There is a discussion list. You can subscribe or read the archives at:





Mark Jaroski <>
Bernhard Kaindl <>

Improved error and usage messages.

Oleg Alexandrov <>, Thomas Widmann <>

Bug reports and feedback.

Adrian Irving-Beer <>

Preview support, export support for multi-page update, more 'minor' and 'watch' settings, and bug reports.


© Copyright 2004-2005, Mark Jaroski

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

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