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XOWA 0.2.5.4 (alpha)

View and edit Wikipedia pages while offline

by Mike Williams

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License: Open Source
Operating Systems: Linux, Mac OS X, Windows 7 (32 bit), Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows 8, Windows Server, Windows Vista (32 bit), Windows Vista (64 bit), Windows XP
Requirements:

Java

Languages: English
Software Cost: Free
Date Updated: 23 February 2013
Watchlist: Add download to my watchlist
Downloads To Date: 441
Developer: gnosygnu
RSS News Feed: http://sourceforge.net/api/file/index/project-id/1199660/mtime/desc/limit/20/rss
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XOWA 0.2.5.4 (alpha)
View and edit Wikipedia pages while offline

XOWA is an interesting Java-based tool which allows you to view and edit a subset of Wikipedia's pages while offline.

Launch the program initially and an opening page provides a link to download and install Simple Wikipedia. This is a limited version of the real thing, but still manages to include more than 95,000 pages, more than enough to be useful.

If you'd like to see images, though, there's more preparation to be done, as the program must also install ImageMagick and Inkscape. The process is at least largely automated, though - just click a link and XOWA downloads the necessary files and unzips them appropriately. This isn't quite as smooth as it should be - when we tried to view pages afterwards, we got a Java error message - but after everything worked fine after we restarted our PC (and this is an alpha, so occasional problems are to be expected).

Once you have got everything set up, though, XOWA works very well. Page formatting is excellent; it looks and feels just like the real thing. Navigation is easy, with links working just as you'd expect (as long as they're to pages included within Simple Wikipedia, anyway). Simple navigation tools include bookmarks and a page history, and you can even edit your local pages.

What's more, if you really need more offline resources, then the program can link those in, too. So while editing a page in your offline Wikipedia, for instance, you could in theory look up the spelling of a word in your offline Wiktionary.

There are some oddities here. As you're not working in a browser, for instance, XOWA provides a "forward" and "back" button of its own. But these are so small that it took us a while to even notice them. Hopefully clearer navigation is on the list of "things to do".

Issues like this are of course very minor for an alpha build, though, and in general XOWA performs very well indeed. If you need a portable and cross-platform mini-Wikipedia which you can use anywhere, then go grab a copy immediately.

Verdict:

Despite a few minor issues (no surprise for an alpha build), XOWA is already an excellent offline reader for Wikipedia

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Spotlight: Free Full Software

WhatsApp Messenger 2.12.5

Free Full Commercial Software

WhatsApp Messenger is the world's most popular instant messaging app for smartphones.

You can use it to send and receive text and voice messages, photos, videos, even call your friends in other countries, and because it uses your phone's internet connection it might not cost you anything at all (depending on whether you'll pay data charges).

It's easy to set up and use. There's no need to create and remember new account names or pins because it works with your phone number, and uses your regular address book to find and connect you with friends who use WhatsApp already.

You can talk one-to-one or in group chats, and because you're always logged in there's no way to miss messages. Even if your phone is turned off, WhatsApp will save your messages and display them as soon as you're back online.

There's plenty more (location sharing, contact exchange, message broadcasting) and the app is free for a year, currently $0.99/ year afterwards.

Version 2.12.5 brings:

• Per chat custom notification settings and mute
• You can now include videos in your chat backups in Settings > Chats and Calls > Chat Backup
• Mark chats as unread or read with a swipe to the right
• Better support for VoiceOver
• Directly share contacts from the Contacts app and locations from Apple Maps to WhatsApp
• Lower the data usage used during WhatsApp calls in Settings > Chats and Calls 
• Earlier messages now load automatically as you scroll chats
• Improved design for cropping photos and videos
• Location messages now use a large map thumbnail

[...]
Value:
Free
Rating: