Thursday, February 07, 2008

On Wikis

Why a wiki?

  • Easy to share and continually refine information, collaborate. (Even though its blindingly obvious why wikis are useful)
  • The Wiki Workplace - foster innovation and growth
  • Motorola's IT Department Takes On Enterprise 2.0
  • Most content management systems are data ghettos. People fail to realize that information is dynamic and continually changes. We should celebrate and rejoice if anyone has information and wants to add/modify, the first step towards doing that is to make it extraordinarily easy to add information - either modify directly or add a comment.
  • Wikis enhance the spirit within the organization, bringing together people from cross-cutting concerns together.
  • However, one must be cautious. All men are created equal doesn't work too well in the real world. And don't go ga-ga over democratization of information. Things need to be architected elegantly, someone smart needs to do thoughtful research, anticipate future needs and design.
  • At the same time, never forget how important freedom is: Adam Bosworth's talk.
That software which is flexible, simple, sloppy, tolerant, and altogether forgiving of human foibles and weaknesses turns out to be actually the most steel cored, able to survive and grow while that software which is demanding, abstract, rich but systematized, turns out to collapse in on itself in a slow and grim implosion.


My main criteria for a Wiki evaluation are:

  • Tags (tagcloud): Allows multiple tag (keyword) assignment to any page. This removes the overhead of setting up a hierarchical structure. Searching becomes easy. Navigation can be done by tagclouds, which can be weighted.
  • Attachments: In-place file attachments are useful.
  • RSS Feeds: Allow us to look at a variety of streams of information quickly without having to subscribe, maintain mailing list, etc. Almost all wikis have this as well.
  • Comments: All wikis allow comments, as part of wiki or as a plugin, hence I'm not including that in the pros and cons.
Without furthur ado and fanfare, lets take a look at some solutions.

Confluence

  • Features: http://www.atlassian.com/software/confluence/features/
  • Has tons of features, true enterprise class, integrates blogs, has workspaces and many other features.
  • Unfortunately, it is not free.
  • Lots of companies use this: http://www.atlassian.com/about/customers.jsp

Sharepoint

  • Sharepoint might have some of the required features, but I don't know which ones work well and which ones don't. It seems like a document repository. The good thing about sharepoint is automatic authentication. All Enterprises have Microsoft messaging infrastructure, Exchange + Outlook + Live Communicator. Like it or not, sharepoint is going to be the standard in most enterprises. This has nothing to do with the technical capabilities of Sharepoint, but the suits in the management would make this decision for you and push it down your throat.
  • I've used Sharepoint, its mostly useless. However, upper management wants to see everything as properly organized and lower managers comply by creating a hierarchy of folders and put some documents there. This has limited utility (slightly better than shared folders), but it makes people look good.

TWiki

  • Useful for enterprises, can build portals and such.
  • Supports attachments.
  • Quick intro: A taste of wiki: http://twiki.org/cgi-bin/view/TWiki04x01/ATasteOfTWiki
  • Supports tags
  • Lots of power under the hood. If I were CIO/CTO, I would take one good, hard look at TWiki.

DokuWiki
  • File based storage – easiest to migrate.
  • Easy to use, install and configure. Can get it up and running in 2 mins.
  • No attachments
  • No tags

Deki Wiki
  • Supports attachments
  • Supports tags
  • WYSWYG editor. All other wikis require us to learn that specific wiki syntax.
  • http://wiki.opengarden.org/Deki_Wiki

MediaWiki
  • MySQL based, used by Wikipedia.
  • No tags
  • Poor file attachment support. Can't attach to current file, attach somewhere else and link to it.

KnowledgeTree
  • Not a wiki, but a document management system
  • Tags and tagclouds
  • Has document workflows

2 comments:

yogijp said...

Forgot to add jspwiki

JSPWiki offers attachments

yogijp said...

vqwiki

alfresco has CIFS and can also build on Sharepoint