Wiki verse Office Documents
This page is about documenting within a Wiki vs. documenting with standard office documents. It describes advantages and disadvantages of using a sophisticated wiki like MediaWiki for knowledge management and collaborative documentation. It also describes the way forward to establish new ways of knowledge sharing.
- Users don't need an office client - just a modern W3C-compliant browser
- No compatibility problems between different office clients
- Well-proven Wiki syntax (like in Wikipedia)
- Very powerful handling of templates, which are dynamically rendered each time a page is loaded
- Transclusion of content, which can be maintained on a single place, into any wiki page
- Once the template is changed, any page using (transcluding) this template is changed accordingly
- Templates support parameters like variables. Example: Parameterize a color or a table output
- Wiki pages can be tagged with categories and sub-categories -> list of pages per category
- It's easy to redirect pages. Example: Just enter "S4" and you will be redirected to the proper S4 page
- Many other features like syntax hightlighting, moving or renaming pages, watching pages to get notified on changes, page protections, etc. See Help:Contents.
- Built-in wiki search engine
- Full version history
- Possibility to use hundreds of great extensions like Semantic MediaWiki.
- Ability to combine many wikis to a central entry point by using namespaces and interwiki links. That leads to better linking between the wikis (without need of absolute URLs).
- Upload of regular files (e.g. office documents, images) possible in case this is needed
See also Help for an overview of features and ways of working.
This results in:
- One central access point for information. No permission problems.
- Easy linking of content to built a real knowledge base - no single documents which makes it impossible to link knowledge
- Easy collaborative editing with a full history of changes within the complete knowledge base
- Write a document on one place and include it to any wiki page -> No redundant information, no different versions
- Categories could be created in order to help structuring content
- Search for a keyword will look throughout the complete knowledge base, not only a single document
- Anyone can create "shortcuts" to easily navigate to a certain page
- Users can manage notifications in case someone edits a page
- Users have full control over who has edited a page (history)
- Users can easily revert changes
- Users could combine a wiki with a "office document store", i.e. using the wiki as meta framework (TOC) on top of such an office store would be possible
- Content could be migrated step-by-step
- We could establish a semantic approach to tag content with their "meaning" and to dynamically search for information. Proper tagging can be done using forms.
- Users must learn something new (how to use a wiki for editing pages)
- Export to office documents (e.g. PDF) needs proper extensions and does not provide the same look as experienced from standard office
- Editing tables is not much intuitive - but a WYSIWYG editor could be implemented
- We must agree on a common and flat access model. Any logged-in user can edit all pages. Read access is granted either for all visitors or for all logged-in users. No fine-granulated access control.
The way forward
A Study must answer the following questions:
- Which documents and knowledge bases are currently in use? Where?
- Is it possible to group certain documentation types or areas (like we did in Documentation)?
- Who is accessing the documents?
- Who is editing the documents? How? In a collaborative manner? Alone?
- What is the current access method and permission model?
- What are the pros and cons of the current situation? From user point of view and from management point of view.
- What can or shall be improved in terms of
- documentation and knowledge quality
- grade of collaboration
- reviewing documents
- get informed about changes
- have a history of changes (in total knowledge base, not just on single documents)
- easy (central) access to representative information (flat access model?)
- central storage
- re-use of documents and parts of it from a central place (instead of copy/paste)
- structuring the documentation
- linking between knowledge
- barrier to share knowledge
- getting a common look and feel (templates)
- navigating through knowledge base (start page, categories, linking)
- searching information
- handle structured information (like lists and tables) and create dynamic views