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Wiki Talk

This talk will present some tradeoffs with using a wiki as a collaboration or document sharing tool. Then it will proceed to assess DokuWiki as a wiki implementation.


David Weekly (of Super Happy Dev House fame) gave a nice introduction to wikis at Xerox PARC.

Executive Summary: Wikis were invented1) to facilitate building consensus.

Product Comparison

We have ready access to LiveLink, SharePoint, CVS, and a Perspective Wiki. They're all capable of storing and presenting documents, with various tradeoffs.

LiveLink SharePoint CVS Writely Perspective
License Expiring Free? Free Subscr. Free
Revisioning Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Conflict Handling Lock-based ? 3-way merge ? Lock-based
Ease of Use Little Little Little Medium High
Browser Independence No No N/A Yes No
Mature Yes Yes Yes No (stable) No
Document Types All All text vs. bin HTML XML
Printing Native Native Native Good Web page
Microsoft Integration Yes Yes No Yes(close) Promised
RSS No No No Yes Yes (not here)

The Importance of Affordance

Quick: You have to update the Project Management document in LiveLink. What do you do? You have to update the Liquid Runtime Connection document in SharePoint. What do you do?

  1. Find the document.
  2. Edit the document.

But what exactly do you do?

First, either use a local rich client, or use Microsoft Internet Explorer, not necessarily your default browser. Navigate to the document, unless the repository supports inter-document search. Now you have to remember to “check out” the document from LiveLink, and how to do that. Work with the local copy. Edit the document (with a rich editor, yea!) and check in the new revision from your local copy.

That's too much work, for either of those two steps.

LiveLink and SharePoint introduce barriers high enough to affect document maintenance. You'll be shocked to learn that there are stale documents on our repositories. And documents go stale faster on repositories that are not second nature to the user.

Good wikis work with every browser. Who hasn't opened a web browser today?

Two independent clicks is twice as much work as one click.

The next generation tool will combine the findability of a Google Universal Desktop with the convenience of Amazon's Buy It Now button with deep integration with Microsoft Office.

Until then, we have to select the features that will benefit our problem space the most. And the most important feature is affordance. The wiki wants you to maintain it. It sits there, coyly suggesting you come hither and maintain its documents. They’re yours, after all. And you can’t do it wrongly. One click.


I did a deep comparison of tikiwiki, perspective and dokuwiki. Notably missing is MoinMoin and Nuxeo, both rather heavy weight.

Bad Things

  • Text-only editing and native format. (Export to PDF tips discussion available)
  • Attached media is not revision controlled.
  • No Microsoft authentication (plugin architecture) (Shared credentials with us1-cvs3, for example.)
  • No integration with Microsoft Office or Visio.
  • Very restrictive page names. 2)

Good Things

  • Editing Toolbar (To assist with markup.)
  • Easiest to learn markup code.
  • Syntax hilighting. (Eg., <code C++> and XML)
  • Structured framework. (Focus on content, not presentation.)
  • Very nice css printing.
  • Customizable RSS feed
  • Section editing.
  • Many plugins. (Discussion pages, DITAA, etc.)
  • Pages maintained as text files on the server.
  • Code lauded by many programmers.
  • Hit-based search results.


DokuWiki affords technical documentation better than the others. And that’s the most important attribute for what I needed.


The original wiki is ugly enough to scare people away and I won't refer to it here.
Lowercase, no spaces, for compatible HTML navigation.
analysis/wikis.txt · Last modified: 2023/04/12 20:44 by