Success is like lightning
If it strikes you more than once, then there must be something special about you.
A lot of good things happened to us in 2017 when Kiwix got officially started. 2018 was even better: we released the first version of the hotspot installer in the Spring, entered an official partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation in the Summer, and released a first beta version of Kiwix for desktop in the Fall, one that can fully support the updated zim format. And oh, yeah, we were invited to hold our yearly hackathon at Google’s Zurich office in September, which was nice.
Seeing Kiwix do as well as it did in 2018 is only an encouragement to keep making it better. Much better. For all the talk about new techs and disruption (whatever that means), the fact is that 4 billion people still lack a decent internet access.
2018 will be remembered as the year where Kiwix (as a software) was ready to show a line of updated products across all platforms.
So here’s our promise for this year: we’ll start shifting our focus from container to content, and make it easier to store and share and learn for everyone, everywhere.
A lot of new
There are two types of developments: those we can see, such as new apps, new features, new content. And those that are harder to spot, like new tools for development, new servers, new programs. Lucky for us, we got both this year:
- Kiwix 2.4 for Android, with a new interface, new search features
- Kiwix 2.0 (beta) for Desktop (Windows/Linux)
- A new, improved pre-indexed zim file format for mediawiki content
- A desktop-based hotspot installer
- A first foray into MOOCs, these Massive Open Online (and now Offline) Courses
- All customs apps were upgraded and updated, and we now have 14 in 10 languages
Last, but not least, we continued to improve our Raspberry based technology, helping people set up their own local network thanks to a grant from the Orange Foundation.
It is now a lot easier to install Kiwix as a local hotspot.
Behind the scene
Other noteworthy changes on the backend side of things include improvements to zimlib and zimwriterfs, the tools needed to generate content file; a better youtube scrapper to get more videos; fulltext integration to our zimfiles. This may not seem much to the non-techies reading this, but that was a lot of work.
We signed a partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation in July, which will help us guarantee a better stability for the Kiwix ecosystem (and pay for servers, hosting, equipment, code, etc.). The arrangement comes with an agreement that we should help make Wikipedia easier to access in places with low connectivity, and the first fruits should be visible as early as Spring of 2019.
«The local students use KIWIX on their mobile phones to access offline content, since there is no internet from the mobile carrier […] [Kiwix] is a welcome beacon in the darkness where there isn’t any light at all.»
This is a message from Eritrea
Where our servers show, surprisingly, no actual downloads. In Asmara, people apparently trade Kiwix and zim files for about a dollar. All offline. According to our contact there, every student uses it because it is free and more up-to-date than old books.
Our numbers, that’s what’s up!
Up up up, we go up. Be it the desktop versions, the increase in downloads reflects both an increased visibility on our side, as well as a sustained demand when it comes to accessing offline contents.
Another interesting takeaway is that from what we could see, different countries use different platforms, with mobile being particularly strong in India and Asia, generally speaking.
Kiwix was downloaded more than a million times from 202 countries and territories in 2018 (including the Vatican and Antarctica, apparently), with 80% of volumes in the Global South.
We offer content in 100 languages.
80% of our downloads come from the Global South
We have more than 1,000 different content files free for download.
Kiwix has reached a critical size: with six different platforms to maintain and dozens of apps in the works, we’ll have to make choices in assigning resources and priorities.
We’ve hired people to help us code-side and finally completed the split between the different core components of Kiwix so that they are easier to handle separately. With more servers, we should have no issue handling the steady increase in our userbase.
We will also keep adding new content – be it through partnerships or, again, by rolling out new features that will give people what we hope will be, at some point, a more seamless experience between on and offline.
Concretely, that means making it easier to create one’s hotspot, for instance. Or smaller files that are easy to download.
The big milestones next year will be a roll-out of thematic content (think Football Wikipedia), finalize the release of MOOCs, and finally release Zimfarm, to make updates more frequent and automated.