Grants:Project/Stephane/Kiwix/Offline medical

Offline medical
summaryA series of improvements to Wikimed, the offline medical encyclopedia running on Kiwix.
amountCHF 78,000 (USD 79,300)
granteeStephane (Kiwix)
advisorDoc JamesKelsonJVargas_(WMF)
contact• stephane (a)• info (a)
organization• Kiwix
this project needs...
created on16:54, 10 October 2016 (UTC)

Project idea


What is the problem you're trying to solve?


Explain the problem that you are trying to solve with this project or the opportunity you’re taking advantage of. What is the issue you want to address? You can update and add to this later.

Background: Wikimed is an app that runs on Kiwix, the offline reader. It is currently only available on Android, with a user base overwhelmingly (approx. 75%) based in the Global South. As can be expected, users are students and physicians in low-connectivity environments. Kiwix's code, however, is getting old (we just celebrated our 10th anniversary): app installation can be buggy, and there are some major tasks that need to be done in order to better serve users. For instance, as a resource for medical workers and students, the thumbnailing of images currently available from Kiwix is not sufficient to display images, and video formats are not fully supported.

Last but not least, Kiwix is an entirely volunteer-led project, which is another problem as ZIM generation and app updates are not automated;

What is your solution?


If you think of your project as an experiment in solving the problem you just described, what is the particular solution you're aiming to test? You will provide details of your plan below, but explain your main idea here.

Hire professional coders to do the tasks at hand. Kiwix has really taken off and diversified lately, a major code overhaul is needed : occasional volunteer patching won't cut it any more.

Project goals


Explain what are you trying to accomplish with this project, or what do you expect will change as a result of this grant.

Increase use of Wikimed and broaden access to Wikimedia contents as a whole: most of the improvements we propose pertain to Kiwix core code itself and would benefit the full Kiwix ecosystem (we also have Wikivoyage apps as well as a Raspberry plug on top of the desktop versions).

Objective 1: Offer 3 different versions of Wikimed (nopic, standard, extended imageview); expand to iOS versions;

Objective 2: Support video and audio content. This goes hand-in-hand with MW developers solving ticket 64270 on Phabricator.

Objective 3: industrialize app release.

Project plan




Tell us how you'll carry out your project. What will you and other organizers spend your time doing? What will you have done at the end of your project? How will you follow-up with people that are involved with your project? Most of the activities will be related to development and project management. Timeline:

Task 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Project Management Send out ads, recruit devs Project management ---->
Kiwix-serve complete indexing, add OPDS and OpenSearch support
Zimlib & zimwriterfs merge/revamp zimpatch/zimdiff; create test bases; support fulltext search; add content seek for video streaming Finish the one pass zim file generation, incl. adding metadata to zim
iOS Implement the last kiwix library improvement in the iOS app; Industrialize the releasing process for zim and custom apps
Android Add search on zim file; Add multi-zim research
Headcount 0.2 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5

Good news! By popular demand, we've translated this into layman's terms.



How you will use the funds you are requesting? List bullet points for each expense. (You can create a table later if needed.) Don’t forget to include a total amount, and update this amount in the Probox at the top of your page too!

Item Cost (CHF) Note
Full time junior software developer (8 mo) 55,000 Based on average starting salary in Lausanne, Switzerland[1]
Hackathon @Wikimania 2017

(travel, hosting, support for volunteers)

10,000 7 flights, 7 rooms x 8 nights, and food[2]
Project Management 20% 13,000 Extra costs and admin covered by Kiwix team
Total 78,000 Approx. USD 79,300
  1. According to (Low 69.3k; high 112.5k; median 90.2k/p.a.)
  2. Estimate based on eDreams prices GVA-YUL (fares for August 2017 not published yet) and Esino Lario conference costs.

Community engagement


How will you let others in your community know about your project? Why are you targeting a specific audience? How will you engage the community you’re aiming to serve at various points during your project? Community input and participation helps make projects successful.


We have a small but active volunteer developer community with which we regularly engage: we've organized several hackathons across Europe over the past couple of years. We plan to bring at least three of the lead volunteer developers for each platform (Kiwix-serve, iOS, Android) to Montreal to help with testing and iron out the last remaining bugs. Over the course of the project advancement will be communicated on the relevant mailing list (offline-l).

Kiwix already has its own Twitter and Facebook feeds as well as the OTRS queue for bug reporting. We plan to release a few blog posts to increase community awareness.



What do you expect will happen to your project after the grant ends? How might the project be continued or grown in new ways afterwards?


We currently have content in 7 languages (ar, en, es, fa, fr, pt, zh), and plan on releasing another 5 (bn, de, ja, or, sl). As content grows, updates should be a lot easier to manage after project completion. Improvements to Kiwix-serve and zim lib also profit other apps, such as Wikivoyage. All Kiwix source code is open source and publically available on Github.

We also believe that if the Movement wants to attract new editors, it first should increase awareness, particularly in the Global South and/or for languages where users might feel compelled to help improve specific content.


Wikimed has seen a dramatic growth in readership, passing the 50,000 installs mark in less than ten months. Our retention rate is around 65% and app reviews give it 4.69. There has been a decrease in growth recently with the accumulation of software and install issues. We expect these improvement to help us go over that bump.

Measures of success


How will you know if the project is successful and you've met your goals? Please include specific, measurable targets here.

Wikimed reach will pass the 100,000 installs mark by end of 2017.

Concrete deliverables (see table above for timeline):

Kiwix Serve

  • Add OPDS, and OpenSearch support.

Zimlib & zimwriterfs

  • Merge/revamp zimpatch/zimdiff
  • Create test base
  • Support fulltext search and geolocation indexes
  • Release the one pass zim file generation
  • Add metadata to the zim
  • Add content seek for video streaming

Kiwix IOS

  • Implement the last kiwix library improvement in the app
  • Working App


  • Add on-zim file support
  • Add multi-zim research
  • Industrialize zim and app releasing processes
  • Working App

Get involved




Please use this section to tell us more about who is working on this project. For each member of the team, please describe any project-related skills, experience, or other background you have that might help contribute to making this idea a success.

  • Stephane Coillet-Matillon is a former Wikimedia CH board member and Executive Director (a.i.) at Wikimedia Switzerland. He's also been an editor for the last 12 years. He already manages Kiwix' communication and regularly participates in events presenting this solution (most recently in September in Colombia at the behest of the Colombia User Group);
  • Emmanuel Engelhart is a Software developer and the co-founder of Kiwix and openZim. He still is the lead developer for Kiwix' core code;
  • James Heilman is Doc James, head of the Wikiproject Medicine, our "client" in this case;
  • Jorge Vargas heads the LatAm activities of the Partnerships department at the Foundation. He's helping with finding ways to increase our reach in that region (and elsewhere);

Community notification


You are responsible for notifying relevant communities of your proposal, so that they can help you! Depending on your project, notification may be most appropriate on a Village Pump, talk page, mailing list, etc.--> Please paste links below to where relevant communities have been notified of your proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions. Need notification tips?

  • On the Wikipedia Weekly: [1]
  • On our Facebook page : [2]
  • On our Twitter feed : [3]
  • On the Wikiproject Medicine talk page: here



Do you think this project should be selected for a Project Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project below! (Other constructive feedback is welcome on the discussion page).

  • For the Global South, offline access to Wikipedia in any form is especially beneficial and any measures that potentially lead to greater outreach should be welcome :) Soni (talk) 06:47, 11 October 2016 (UTC)
  • An iOS version is long overdue. -- 11:05, 11 October 2016 (UTC)
  • support very good idea/med app needs it Ozzie10aaaa (talk) 12:16, 11 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Support I have been supporting this project for years and would like to see it continue to be developed. At the October 2016 WikiConference North America in San Diego I with others made a presentation on the usefulness of offline Wikimedia content in a "Wikipeda-in-a-box" presentation. There are many projects which depend on offline sharing of Wikimedia content and there is supporting evidence that demand for accessing content in this way is only increasing. I do not know how to comment on hardware and software development, or deployment, or social management of users, but I can confirm that a demand exists. Beyond the demand, the idea of the possibility of offline content distribution is a major motivation to encourage anyone to contribute content to Wikipedia, regardless of whether they directly participate in offline distribution projects. Kiwix has for about 10 years been the center of discussion in offline Wikimedia content distribution. This idea has more support than any other and the benefit of being a model which is already understood and discussed by many people in the Wikimedia community. I would like to see it developed further. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:22, 11 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Impressive uptake and project: support. Hildabast (talk) 03:12, 13 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Offline content is an effective way to introduce Wikipedia in the developing world. Having healthcare students and therefore the physicians and nursing of the future gaining awareness of our work will have long term positive benefits not only for our movement but the health care in these countries. This is something we can do better than any other. Other organizations simple are not willing to provide offline content as it is not compatible with either their subscription or ad based funding models. Here is a place we can really excel. We are already seeing requests for other thematically based apps. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 06:28, 13 October 2016 (UTC)
  • I fully support this project. Kiwix and its versions need to be upgraded spread as every where as possible since majority of global users are offline. Orgio89 (talk) 08:06, 13 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Support this amazing initiative which will greatly help where internet access is patchy or not available. Ear-phone (talk) 11:59, 13 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Good idea. And Kiwix still need an synchronization update System to bee completely power full in countries where internet is expensive and work slowly. Download the entire data from wikimedia projects (or oder) for each update is just impossible with bad internet connection. Lionel Scheepmans Contact French native speaker, désolé pour ma dysorthographie 10:17, 14 October 2016 (UTC)
Agree our users complain that to update the app they need to download the entire thing again. And these large downloads often hang. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:25, 14 October 2016 (UTC)
  •   Strong support I can only support the project, I'm from the "Global South" and I know exactly how to be when you don(t have acess o the internet when you need it! Dyolf77 (talk) 14:16, 15 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Pleclown (talk) 18:34, 15 October 2016 (UTC)
  • In general, I endorse the Kiwix project as an important player in bringing out access to information to millions of people. Many areas of the world and millions of people will continue to have limited internet access for many years to come, not least life-vital medical information. Benjaoming (talk) 19:10, 15 October 2016 (UTC)
  • --Kritzolina (talk) 15:50, 17 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Its good idea and make the knowlage access for everyone. Gdafs (talk) 06:10, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Tobias1984 (talk) 12:24, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Support --Helmoony (talk) 18:58, 20 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Support I strongly believe that providing access to knowledge to new potential users in the Global South, who are not yet online or have limited access to the internet, is crucial to reaching our mission. Therefore, I am pleased to see that this grant request intends to fund Kiwix's core code improvements and mobile development. It's also important to highlight that curated/thematic content, like the WikiMed app, is a highly sought-after resource for international and local nonprofit organizations that are working to bridge the connectivity gap in these geographies. Investing in code and user experience improvements (i.e. display images and video support) will positively impact the quality of this offline solution and also expand the possibilities to widely distribute our content to Global South users. Adele Vrana (WMF) talk 07:40, 30 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Strong Support I believe offline access to knowledge will enable poorer countries to expand their wealth, as well as providing jobs and access to qualifications. David Greener (talk) 12:53, 11 December 2016 (UTC)
  • Strong Support In relation with this other project submission. Lionel Scheepmans Contact French native speaker, désolé pour ma dysorthographie 15:51, 15 March 2017 (UTC)