Upgrading Semantic MediaWiki When You Don’t Have Access to the Command Line (Shell)

The tools and access that those developing web software have available is not always the same as those available to those running the software on their website. Case in point, we were recently working on an upgrade of a MediaWiki website using the Semantic MediaWiki extension where there wasn’t access to the command line (shell) with the hosting account for the website. The upgrade process for Semantic MediaWiki involves you having that access. We were able to work around that and we have some important information for anyone trying to do that as well.

What we thought we could do is to prepare the files for the upgrade on a local copy of the website, copy those to the server, and then do the database upgrade on the server. That didn’t work out.

Upgrading the files needs to be done elsewhere than the website since it relies on Composer. We thought that we could run the database update for Semantic MediaWiki on the server though, since MediaWiki has a web updater for those not able to run its updates through the command line. While that worked for updating MediaWiki on this server, we found that the Semantic MediaWiki upgrade didn’t get applied when doing that.

After doing the database update elsewhere and copying that to the server, we ran into another problem. We got this error message:

Semantic MediaWiki was installed and enabled but is missing an appropriate upgrade key.


The linked documentation wasn’t all that helpful on what was at issue there. What we found was that a change needed to be made to the file /extensions/SemanticMediaWiki/.smw.json. Specifically, the database name in that file needed to be corrected to match the name of the database on the server. The contents of the file look like this:

“databasename”: {
“upgrade_key”: “b1d9d6bec582041a8aca10a4d380cfc75aa86e7f”,
“maintenance_mode”: false

In a real file, instead of databasename would be the name of the database. Correcting that resolved the error.