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Sep 12 2016

CKEditor. From optional to default.

In February, we were announcing the availability of the CKEditor as an alternative to the basic WYSIWYG and Wiki Editor. Now we have more exciting news! After noticing how everybody loves this extension, we have decided to make it default , once with the release of the latest XWiki version, 8.2.

For those who don’t know exactly the difference between the 3 text editors available in the latest release, I will briefly explain them to you.

Wiki Editor

Let’s start with the most robust one. Wiki Editor is a text editor using elements more targeted to people who are somewhat technical and prefer full control over live preview. The current version available is 2.1 and compared to the previous releases it is better in homogenizing the links while the image syntax offers a better clarity and consistency.

Other interesting features are the ability to display icons; link files using the UNC notation and create links to relative URLs. You can learn more about this editor on XWiki.org.

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WYSIWYG

The name of this class of editors comes from “What You See Is What You Get” and allows the user to visualise the changes made to a document in real time. Compared to Wiki Editor , WYSIWYG is easier to use as it does not require syntax knowledge and it has some similarities in terms of basic functions to Word.

On the other side, even if this class of editors offers the possibility to make simple changes, it has its limitations compared to the above mentioned one in terms of control. Compared to CKEditor, this one was developed in house based on Google Web Toolkit, while CKEditor is being used by a wide range of companies. 

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CKEditor

The CKEditor is a member of the WYSIWYG family. It is a ready-to-use HTML editor that brings together a number of functions which are specific for the word processors. This is better than the generic WYSIWYG in some key web development areas.  

It allows users to copy-paste the style of a paragraph directly from Word, it allows the creation of accessibility-compliant tables and uses advanced W3C DTD controls for a better HTML generation.

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Now that you have an overview of the difference between the 3 default editors, which one are you more inclined to use? If you are not sure enough, why not try them out with the latest version of XWiki Cloud 8.2.1. available on XWiki.com?


George Nikolic
Marketing Specialist @ XWiki

Sep 08 2016

You change. We change.

Source codeOriginal image created by Kuszapro

The software industry has developed tremendously in the last couple of years. Starting from a simple practice of ensuring better human efficiency and performance, it has increased so much and so fast, by both value and volume, that now has become a science. Today’s world is facing different issues than the past generations and new trends have forced the software industry to reorganize and find alternative ways to solve business and community related sensitive situations.

Level of interaction

Depending on the level of interaction with the user, Alan Cooper has structured the applications in four postures. The sovereign application is a software that is used the most. Usually it monopolizes the user’s attention for the greatest amount of time.

When an alternative solution is being used for a specific purpose on which the sovereign application is not performing as expected, a transient application is introduced. It attracts user’s interaction for a limited amount of time as it appears, gets the job done and exits the landscape immediately. If it is used for a longer period of time it becomes an auxiliary software to the sovereign one and it’s categorized as a parasitic application. The one interacting the least with the user is the daemonic application which is running in the background and doesn’t require direct human interaction.

Scale of implementation

On the other hand, considering the scale of implementation, there are two main categories: situational and enterprise applications. The difference between them consists solely on the target audience and the range of requirements.

Situational applications are usually considered fast to develop and implement, easy to use and flexible enough to be modified. They satisfy a specific, limited type of needs therefore are easier to implement and don’t require a considerable amount of planning and testing. Due to these characteristics are more preferable for small groups.

The enterprise application is the total opposite of the one mentioned above. It is usually more generic and satisfies a wide range of business purposes which are intended to be addressed by a large number of users. It requires meticulous planning, higher investments and have proved to be much more difficult to implement or change.


XWiki the best solution

Once with the strong focus on developing cloud technologies and deployment platforms, companies tend to implement situational applications on a wider scale, slowly over-passing the traditional enterprise applications. An example of platform supporting the development and use of situational wiki applications is XWiki. Using top-end technology, our wiki embraces change, therefore is considered to be one of the best solutions in terms of situational application for both big and small enterprises.

Our teams can perform on both the Waterfall methodology which is more preferred by clients who know exactly what needs they have, while the AGILE methodology allows us to start working with a limited amount of information and define requirements during the development process.


Top 3 reasons why XWiki is the perfect solution for your situational application:

  1. Easy to develop and implement means saved time, fewer costs and more money for your company.
  2. Being user friendly it allows your employees to focus on the most important tasks and increase their productivity which eventually increases their motivation and the company’s revenue.
  3. Flexible to meet your dynamic requirements. The development process can be resumed whenever you feel like it. To satisfy your latest needs without starting from square one, XWiki is adaptable and cost effective.

If you want to see examples of what situational applications we have developed please visit our references page.

George Nikolic
Marketing Specialist @ XWiki

Sep 02 2016

Educational Wikis: The what and why

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Image by IICD

Technology has always been linked to education, either as a tool of reaching better understandings or by itself as a subject. The first documented event since when technology started being perceived as an integrated part of what we know nowadays as a library, both in physical or virtual state, has happened in the 1450’s. In a time when only the more privileged could have access to education, Johann Gutenberg has empowered others to dream to new horizons. By inventing the printing press he has accelerated the diffusion of knowledge on the European continent and made the first steps in the spread of written information as we know it today.

Based on the same concept as a library, a wiki is a database managing in a structured way, a large number of documents, the equivalent of books, containing information worth sharing. As the data is collaboratively developed by multiple users and archived in a central location, it allows to be accessed, shared and consumed, on the go and often free of charge. Being such an adaptable and flexible technology, wikis are able to satisfy many purposes as long as there is an objective behind.

From the educational standpoint, wikis can be used to structure a huge amount of educational materials, ranging from academic papers, workbooks, teaching slide to official documents, grades and notes. The core idea behind such a platform is the philosophy it was built upon. A wiki represents the accumulation of knowledge, know-how and experience that all class members have to offer, on a reciprocal basis and not the results of one's expertise. It promotes the collective creativity and ownership without removing the sense of responsibility and personal satisfaction. Educational wikis allow their users to create custom apps especially for learning purposes such as dictionary, assignment management, task planning, calendar, event manager, achievement database and so on.

Two open education projects that are changing the way teachers educate and students learn, are Curriki and Sankore. They are both implemented on top of the XWiki Open Source Platform , which is developed by XWiki SAS, as this solution was considered the most suitable for the above mentioned purpose.

Curriki is a community whose mission is to reduce the educational gap between people having access to high-quality learning resources and the others who don’t enjoy the same privilege. Following the vision, they have created an open license website to support the collaborative development and the free distribution of learning materials by allowing teachers to share any material relevant to their work. On the other hand, students are able to search for new lessons and give feedback by rating the available resources. In the situation where something is missing, both parties can fix the problem by simply updating the content.

The Sankoré project, launched in 2009 with the support of the French government, aims to enable the digital side of education to be accessible to developing countries, especially from the African continent. To reach this objective, an interactive whiteboard application and an open licence platform were developed, both allowing the creation and dissemination of free educational resources. Based on the same platform as Curriki, the Planète Sankoré website allows teachers and students to use a range of educational materials, collaboratively managed and developed by the platform's members.

Using an open source wiki supported by a worldwide community, not only offers free access to years of development and expertise, but also gives unlimited, free of charge community support for further improvements and bug fixes in a short time. Both Curriki and Sankore, are the living proof that by developing a platform on open source wiki technology along with allowing access to free resources, the humanity is able to offer educational support to those in need.

Aug 01 2016

Customisation & Personalisation: Similar, but different.

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Image by Geralt

Personalised consumerism as we know it today is the result of years and years of economic and technological changes and discoveries. The first concept of a personalised product has its roots just before the Industrial Revolution, when in the absence of mass production technology, people were, basically handcrafting everything, so the chances of something not being personalised were almost none. Soon after, technological advances have enabled big manufacturers to produce identical products, using a pattern, on cheaper prices so everybody migrated to this option. This phenomenon is known as mass-consumerism. The years between 1950’s and 1960’s have been crucial for the economy of scale and the mass manufacturing concept. The globalisation trend has enabled manufacturers to expand their activities on foreign markets, which had a direct impact on the amount of goods being produced. In the 1980’s, the consumer got bored of having the same looking product as everyone else and the concept of personalisation has been introduced.

From standard to custom
On a study conducted by Deloitte UK in 2015, 1 in 5 respondents affirmed that they would pay 20% more for a personalised item compared to a standard one. On the other hand, the same survey shows that only 42% of the consumers are keen on letting the brands propose the personalised options. The findings suggest that people are likely to offer more for a personalised product or service, but also expect to be tailored to their needs.

Customisation vs Personalisation
The software market has experienced the same change in buying behaviour, even more dynamically once with the introduction of custom made apps. It has become a norm for companies to develop custom build solutions for clients willing to pay the price. As an extension of the personalisation concept, the customisation idea has been created. Although, the vast majority of people don’t quite know the difference between customisation and personalisation, both concepts are looked for by customers from all sectors. In the customisation process, the user is expected to share his needs and expectations, while for personalisation, the company will adjust its offering based on the segment the client is part of, by predicting his interest.

Tailor-fit solutions, better results.
Here, at XWiki, we like to think about ourselves as a flexible company that produces custom based solutions, starting from a standard software, in order to tailor-fit each feature to the client’s exact purpose. Starting with understanding the specific needs of each particular organisation, we are able to adjust the highly customisable wiki, to meet even the most exigent expectations. During the past projects we have received favorable feedback as all our clients have experienced better performances. The most common are considered to be a higher level of efficiency and collaboration compared to the organisations implementing the generic software. Moreover, the same project was able to reduce the operating costs caused by bad data and weak communication within the organisation.

Our solutions
We are proud to underline two projects which required complex custom features that have been implemented on top of the XWiki’s default software:

The L’Union Sociale Pour L’Habitat resource centre is a customised knowledge database developed for a French government related confederation dedicated to supporting low income families. The design and UI are part of the customisation process, but the complex part consists in creating a special document structure on which using a customized workflow, juridic specialists are able to create and edit content. On top of that, the organization asked for a custom metadata filter which is able to sort documents based on some special characteristics.

The second example consists in a corporate intranet, developed for one of the top suppliers of electric energy in Brazil. Being used by more than 5000 users located in several cities, the solution has received a custom SSO login as well as a statistics tracking feature.

Customising a complex software in such a manner to meet the exact expectations is a challenge for both the technical and the design departments. Furthermore, getting custom features to function on a standard wiki solution requires communication between the client and the company, strong interdepartmental collaboration and lastly, but by no means least highly knowledgeable specialists, all this being able to be found at XWiki.

If you want to know more about our projects, check the References page or discover the USH business case.

George Nikolic
Marketing Specialist @ XWiki

Jul 27 2016

The XWiki Seminar 2016

All the XWiki team was involved last week in the 8th edition of the company seminar. 

The XWiki Seminar 2016 was built around the Task Force - Commando theme and challenged the team members with several missions to successfully fulfil within a week!

After an active participation at the morning status sessions, demos and hackathons, all the forces were called together for several team missions: creating an unique symbol, identification sign for the team (the XWiki Coat of Arms), getting to know more about the personality, strengths and weaknesses through a test, building and flying paper aircrafts and creating quick, simple and tasty desserts to celebrate the accomplishments and the 12-year existence of the company. ...

Jul 12 2016

Open source. One step closer to a global standard.

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Original image created by TUBS

The world is actively turning to open-source solutions, a study shows, as 78% of the private companies run partially or integrally on open-source software. When it comes to governments and state-owned enterprises, the story is a bit different. Four economically powerful countries are known to strongly back the open source development, while others are simply implementing free solutions as a way to cut down costs. 

It all started back in 2006, when France was among the first nations worldwide to implement open source solutions as an alternative to paid software intended to be used by the government. The French government went a step further than making Paris an open source software hub. They implemented the concept in public administration and the educational system.

Ten years later, the Bulgarian Government made a surprising move and became the first country to pass a law that forces all software intended to be used by the administrative bodies to be developed based on a FOSS (free and open source software) license. This came up as an effort from the government to be more sensitive regarding public expenses and foresee any potential threats linked to the numerous vulnerabilities found after the expiration of the support contract. Moreover, “whatever custom software the government procures will be visible and accessible to everyone. After all, it’s paid by taxpayers’ money and they should both be able to see it and benefit from it.”, the Bulgarian PM’s advisor, Bozhidar Bozhanov said.

This action has been described as a bold and questionable move by both security experts and the software community. What could have been perceived before as a security threat by exposing the source code behind a government software, today is seen as a way to protect against outside threats by allowing security experts to search for vulnerabilities and report them before someone could take advantage of. Another decisive fact that supported the passing of this law through the Parliament consists in the low costs of maintenance and support. Think about Bulgaria as the 3rd country in the world in terms of certified IT professionals per capita, experiencing a tremendous 30% yearly increase and you can imagine how accessible it is to let the open source community help you develop a national software. 

On the other hand, the skeptical people could say that Bulgaria will be forced by the newly promulgated law to make available any custom code, now a matter of national security, if funded by the taxpayers’ money, but this was something the government has predicted. The list of exceptions include any FOSS intended to be used by basically any government agency related to national security.

By taking this decision, Bulgaria has pushed the open-source concept one step closer to being implemented worldwide, as a standard and not as a niche idea, eventually becoming a commonly perceived practice. Well done, Bulgaria!

George Nikolic
Marketing Specialist @ XWiki

Jul 04 2016

Improve your everyday work with business apps

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Multi-departmental validations: when haste makes waste

Have you ever spent days stressing out because you were waiting for an urgent confirmation which required the approval of several teams or departments?
And while you waited "patiently" for your coworkers to reach a decision and find the time to get back to you, you merely underwent 10 reminder calls per hour?
... Don't you find these situations a tad stressful?

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Good news! There is a solution: it is called a "business application".

When you go business app, you don’t come back

A business app is a custom-made application for companies or organizations designed to help its activity. It can entail:

  • a simplified approach to a bank account opening process
  • optimizing information management in order to make strategic decisions
  • or any other customized application designed to boost your efficiency

At XWiki we often face clients who suffer from this crucial information management to improve their business. They usually work on documents or excel sheets that are updated by several people asynchronously, then sent by email or replaced on a server. Multiplied versions thus start to pile up - version 1, version 2, final version, final-final version - and one can hardly decypher the information he or she is actually looking for.

A popular misconception is that the solution is too complex to implement - it isn't.

Indeed business apps will enable you to:

  • centralize information: rather than spending time searching through emails and documents that have been updated by different teams, you can collaborate on the same document;
  • enhance productivity: by obtaining multiple and quick validations you are able to handle more work in less time;
  • work stress-free: building optimized processes will reduce your pain point and improve your health - say "bye bye" to your imminent burn out.

Licence to chill

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All things considered business apps will improve your life!
... and the proof is in the pudding: here are some detailed examples of our clients.

Chronopost International was experiencing difficulty with obtaining a rapid green light from its sales teams, its IT department and its local agency network to create an account. Client requests were not centralized which resulted in inefficient communication and a tiring management process.
In less than three months, XWiki delivered a business application that significantly reduced the response time of the different teams involved. It is now possible for the sales team to know at any time which requests are ongoing and what is their status!

DCNS - an international high-tech company and one of the few global leaders in defense naval systems - went through similar difficulties.
Some teams were working on incident reporting and communicated their excel files via email. They were constantly dealing with multiple versions of the same files which resulted in information loss. Not only were these asynchronous updates not allowing an efficient status to several departments, but delaying the alerts was multiplying incidents.
This is why XWiki centralized their accident reports and developed an instant alarm system. A short time after its launch, DCNS claimed our business application had prevented more than 200 material incidents.

So why would you stress yourself when you can just as easily get a license to chill? Contact us to set up your business app project.

Sarah Nitenberg
Project Manager

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Jun 16 2016

Centralized data: a miraculous solution to infobesity

It's a well known fact that innovative technologies, the web and social media are generating growth in data flows and data volume. In the past information used to be rare. But that's not the case anymore. On the contrary, today information is abundant, even overabundant. The infobesity concept illustrates perfectly this challenge: too much data can "destroy" information. ...

Jun 07 2016

XWiki Tips & Tricks - Recent Blog Entries Macro

Continuing the ”XWiki Tips and Tricks" series, today we’d like to share a sleek macro that allows you to display the most recent blog posts on your wiki in a single block.

The Recent Blog Entries macro supports the following parameters:

  • totalEntries, that is the total number of blog post entries displayed by the macro
  • blocTitle, the title of the macro
  • category, the doc fullName of the category of blog posts that you want to display

Note none of the parameters are mandatory.

For example if you write the following:
{{recentblogentries totalEntries="3" blocTitle="What's New" /}}
you’ll get:

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Clicking on the macro title takes you to the blog, clicking on the user avatar takes you to the user profile, while clicking the blog post title takes you directly to the corresponding blog entry.

We recommend using the Extension Manager to install this extension. If you'd like to discover more macros, make sure you check out the dedicated extensions wiki.

Jun 03 2016

Intranet managers: projects and budgets for 2016

A couple of months ago, we attended an early presentation on the results of the 7th study on the topic "Intranet managers: projects and budgets for 2016".
Lead, analyzed and presented by Philippe Grange (Facts & Numbers/Group Solutions), the study offers an encouraging vision for this year’s incomings.

The digital transformation: a key element for companies

According to the results, we notice that general management and human resources departments are involved in digitization projects inside companies.
Mainly financed by DSI and conducted by the Communication Manager, the general management’s financial commitment shows that digital transformation becomes a strategic and key subject, in which the HR department is equally involved. One of the possible interpretations is that Y generation employees are becoming more and more important in a company. These contributors have new behaviors, with notable and massive utilization of social and mobile media. Maintaining the  control over these aspects will allow HR departments to better integrate young generations in the company.

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What are the intranet managers achievements in 2015

Among the achievements of intranet managers in 2015 we find:

  • the modernization and redesigning of the intranet. This also takes into account the tool’s ability to connect to mobile devices.
  • the release of a collaborative intranet
  • the implementation of SNC
  • the accomplishment of POC, the creation of studies regarding the tool’s usability or the achievement of a tasks book
  • the development or releases of new applications and/or modules

Secondary, we notice the development of "Serious Games" or of MOOC. We observe that the answers depend on the stage of digitalisation in the respondent company. We can group them in 2 categories:

  • Companies in study or launch phase     
  • Companies that are in the second phase of their transformation project

What are the budgets and projects for 2016?

This is the good news of 2016!

According to this study, budgets are increasing in 2016. Even better, not only are they growing, but the average increase is in the range of 50%.
This represents, in my opinion, a sign of the growing awareness of the strategic importance and value that digital transformation projects bring to a company.

These budgets will be mainly used for:

  • the development of responsive and accessible tools for mobile devices
  • the implementation of SNC (Social Network of the Company)
  • promoting the intranet or the SNC
  • the elaboration of a workplace
  • the monitoring of the project’s evolution

Where do wikis fit in this ecosystem?

Wikis registered good results, making the top of the list for projects quoted for 6 to 18 months with the KM (Knowledge Management) and intranet personalization.

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Wikis are perfectly adapted tools for collaborative work issues, due to their strong participative dimension, but they’re also excellent for organizing knowledge and information in the company.

The expectations of intranet managers in relation with providers for 2016-17

As a wish list, here are some the objectives intranet managers have set for 2016-17:

  • Speed and agility: the development of tools according to the user’s needs and expectations
  • Being informed regarding the best-practices on the market
  • Offering assistance in the implementation phase of the projects and support for the release
  • Suggestions of new features that exist or can be implemented
  • Simplification of the tools and of the back office admin
  • Alignment of the cloud with the security exigences needed for safely managing the company’s internal information
  • Efforts in simplifying (purifying) the consultation and contribution interfaces
  • For SNC, as for the intranet: improvements in the aesthetics and performance!
  • Security doesn’t have to act in the detriment of easy access.

If you also want to configure an intranet on a short or medium term and most of your needs are expressed in this list, do not hesitate to get in contact with our team for a demonstration of XWiki Cloud or for a feasibility study. We are always happy to interact with people who are interested in subjects like the digital transformation of a company, information and knowledge management and also collaborative work and the Digital Workplace.

Benjamin Lanciaux
Marketing Communications Manager @ XWiki