Lost Plays Database:Transition to SMW

This document outlines some of the tasks and sticking points around transitioning the Lost Plays Database to leverage Semantic MediaWiki. Please feel free to add to it, but please keep questions and discussions to the Talk Page.


The work to capture data about each play started when the project moved to the Folger infrastructure in 2018.

Play articles at this point were text without semantic data. Manually curated list pages, category pages, and links between pages were the sole means of creating page relationships and navigational structures.

Some initial steps were made to begin the transition to leverate Semantic MediaWiki. A Play Form was introduced to help keep data capture consistent, and a Title List Page was created to demonstrate a reproduction of the manually curated list using the semantic data generated by the Play Form

Useful Links

Existing Structure and Navigational Pages

All existing navigational structures exist as manually curated lists recorded in wiki pages, or MediaWiki category listings.

Listings Pages


The main entry point to the years navigation is the Years page, a manually curated page listing all years covered, and linking through to each year as a separate manually curated list of plays for that year, e.g. 1570.

When a new play is added, it must be manually added to the relevant year listing page.

Play Titles

There is no single point of entry for Play Titles; There is a separate page for each letter of the alphabet, and the sidebar links directly to the page listing titles beginning with A - Play_Titles_A

When a new play is added, it must be manually added to the relevant alphabetic listings page.


The main entry point for Dramatist navigation is a category page - Category:Dramatist. This uses MediaWiki's category system to list all pages which have been assigned to the Dramatist category.

Each Dramatist page is a manually curated list of pages.


The main entry point for Auspices is a manually curated navigation grouping Auspices into Companies and Venues. These groups represent a secondary level navigation of manually curated lists of Auspices.

Auspice listing pages are actually Category pages, listing all pages tagged with the relevant category; e.g. Category:Leicester's

Proposed Structure using Semantic Annotation

All pages will store associated data via semantic annotations. This removes the need for a great deal of manually curated lists, as these can be created automatically by running queries against the data.

Introduction of Page Types

Forms and templates are used to create consistenly annotated pages.

  • Play will define a page describing a play.
  • Dramatist will define a page describing a dramatist.
  • Auspice will define a page describing an auspice (company/venue).


Prototype Years

Year data is stored using a semantic annotation on Play pages.

A sementic query fetches all all pages semantically annotated as being a Template:Play, and with the given year.

Play Titles

Prototype Play Title

A sementic query fetches all pages semantically annotated as being a Template:Play starting with the associated letter.



Current Status

The project has converted a number of Play articles over to use the new form, but the primary navigation cannot be switched over to semantic lists until all old text-only play articles are transitioned.

Conversion of Play Articles

All old text-only play articles must be converted. This can be a laborious job to do one-at-a-time, and so editors comfortable with editing wikitext directly might consider manually pasting and editing the template call into the source of each play. [Instructions to follow]

Conversion of Dramatist Pages

Dramatist pages are also manually curated lists. These pages should eventually all be transitioned to replace the manually edited table with a template which generates a dynamic table. [Instructions to follow]

Conversion of Auspice Categories to Auspice Pages

Auspices are currently implemented as MediaWiki category pages. These should eventually be transitioned to use a page in the main namespace with an embedded template to generated a dynamic table. [Instructions to follow]

Missing Functionality

Listing Pages

The following listing pages may need to be created to replace the manually curated lists:

  • Dramatists
  • Category Tags
  • Auspices (Companies / Venues)