The OpenGuides Project

Coming to a town or city near you

Comparable to E2 in its aims, OpenGuides aims to have a set of guides to towns and cities. Whereas E2 is an encyclopaedia, OpenGuides is a series of gazetteers.

There are currently guides to the following UK cities:

See: for more

There are also mailing lists on the site for discussion.

Openguides needs you

We need:

  • Contributors. Good noding skills are welcome and encouraged.
  • More guides. If you have the ability to host websites, why not consider setting up an open guide. The software is freely downloadable, see also "technical requirements" below.

    There are also people already hosting guides who would be willing to host additional guides - If you want to take advantage of this, /msg me with the details and I will pass on the request, or post to the openguides-dev mailing list (details on the site).
  • Developers. If you have Perl skills, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved with enhancing this software.


At the beginning of 2002, there was a conversation at London Perl Mongers meet, discussing the concept of a London wiki. There did not seem to be one in existence, so applying JFDI, one was set up. The wiki software chosen was usemod, which proved very easy to set up. Named Grubstreet, this had an enthusiastic takeup from a few individuals in, including myself, hex and kake, who became the individuals on the Openguides project.

After a few months, brimming with ideas, we began to find frustration with the usemod software. Kake decided that a rewrite was needed, and that having a single script (which is what usemod is) was far too inflexible. We needed a modular wiki. Out of this came CGI::Wiki and a whole family of related modules. After a long gestation period, we were ready to launch OpenGuides in June 2003.

For another account of the history, please refer to the writeup on

Features of the sites

  • Openguides has gone to town (excuse the pun) on the idea of place. The sites carry many entries for buildings, including reviews of pubs and restaurants. Where possible, we have X,Y coordinates for each page. These are in the form of an Ordnance Survey grid reference, but can also be translated into latitude and longitude. You can also query the site: Show me everything in 200 metres, 500 metres, 1km etc. of the current page. There's even a plugin for handling geocache information.
  • Indexing
    Each page can belong in one or more categories and locales. Locales are used to designate the location, and categories for more general purpose classification. Each category or locale has a page associated with it.
  • RDF/RSS feeds are available that other sites can use for syndication. For example, Live Journal has a feed from The Open Guide to London called "London Wiki".

Technical details

OpenGuides is open source software, and is available on CPAN. The software uses the wiki engine CGI::Wiki, also available on CPAN.

Besides having perl installed and a webserver (apache recommended), you will need a database, for which the currently supported ones are MySQL, PostgreSQL and DBD::SQLite.

For more information


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