Sunday, August 19, 2007

Dennis Howlett’s post Old meets new: Lotus Domino and Atlassian seems to have generated new interest in DominoWiki the excellent open source wiki by Ben Pool. I even saw a question on Ben’s blog from IBM’s Domino head honcho: Ed Brill! The question is: why did the project outgrow DominoWiki?

This caused me to return to earlier thoughts regarding what makes a wiki enterprise strength?

When I spoke to Ben at Lotusphere Comes To You early this year I outlined some of the bespoke changes we were making to the product. It became clear that some of these features were being looked at for inclusion in the core project, probably for V1.2 (I fully emphasize with the brand of open source developer who have to feed their families by way of day gigs while pursuing the development of the project by night. This inevitably makes for a slow rate of progress)

I needed some improvements quickly. These are the features I decided were needed in order promote interest and make the product highly usable within the enterprise:

Tag cloud: I noticed that the Categories function built-in to DominoWiki worked rather like tags. I renamed them to tags and had a tag cloud built.

Pages by tags view – users using the tags. I feel the process of discovering others who are using the same tag(s) is key.

All tags used by a user view - Discover other stuff that like minded users are writing.

Auto image tag insert One thing that caused a lot of confusion - "I uploaded an image but it does not show up on the page".

Improved tagging process - Existing tags (categories) were lost if one selected a new one. I combined a check-box system by which users had to uncheck a tag to remove it. Combined with the list of all tags in the wiki to select from and the field into which new tags could be entered (multiple tags separated by commas)

Many pages of help & advice - I composed many instructional pages to guide the new user.

Colour text markup

Alt-text markup for non CamelCase page name links - I could not see how to display text for a link that was not the page name

Things I am considering adding in the near future:

email-in - Any Domino user will know that the platform lends itself to this. This is a killer feature for any wiki as it allows reluctant users to compose within an editor they are familiar with. It also allows those on mobile email devices or within web cafe to utilise a spare moment to log an inspirational thought.

email Alerts

Granular RSS - down to page (and its children) level (RSS is a major component of Enterprise 2.0)

Delete Page Improvements - Giving consideration to history

Advanced Tag Cloud - Related Tags View, 20 most popular only etc.

"Newsworthy” checkbox - push a link to the homepage,

Permissioned Areas, - A major requirement for Enterprise

Rich-Text Editor

Printer Friendly facility

Atlassian, as a result of a presumably huge investment has given all of these features (and more) to Confluence in its out-of-the box form and the enterprise licensing costs are very competitive.

Despite this the DominoWiki based wikis (I now employ three) continue to provide real value and in my opinion have enormous potential.


Dennis Howlett said...

Atlassian has not taken any outside funding. They're on a $40 million run rate.

Stuart said...

Great to see you are blogging Alek, and well done on getting some more visibility for DominoWiki...

Bruce said...


Have you seen this site and company:

Alek Lotoczko said...

Thanks Bruce. Was not aware of them.