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When viewing any Wikipedia article, it is possible to export the article to a number of formats, including PDF. My instinct told me they would use some TeX system (plainTeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, etc.), but it doesn't quite fit the bill. The result looks 'nice'-ish, but nowhere near TeX's standards.

So, if not TeX, what does Wikipedia use?

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@Downvoter(s?): This question is within the scope of the FAQ: Wikipedia behaves like an application offering advanced editing, subscribing, sharing, import, and export facilities for information dissemination. This is a question regarding the implementation of this system. – Sean Allred Jun 4 '13 at 17:19
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you're talking about Special:Book, then that comes from the Collection extension. That in turn uses several backends for generating the various formats. For PDF, the PDF Writer extension is used:

The PDF Writer uses the Python Reportlab libraries to generate PDF based on a DOM derived from parsing mediawiki-markup using the mwlib parser.

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Just makes me wonder why they chose this over an honestly better solution; markup-markup is generally an easy transformation (especially with the logical markup in LaTeX). But I suppose since the work was already done, no need to reinvent the wheel twice. Meh. – Sean Allred Jun 4 '13 at 17:23

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