Blog Archive

Blog posts for April 2011

XWiki and semantic technologies

At XWiki we are doing research and participating in different research projects. This gives us the opportunity to experiment with latest technologies and to develop prototypes that will eventually improve XWiki products.

One of these projects is SCRIBO: Semi-automatic and Collaborative Retrieval of Information Based on Ontologies. It is now over and its goal was to provide algorithms and collaborative free software for the automatic extraction of knowledge from digital documents.

Thanks to SCRIBO we were able to develop the annotation system that is already available in XWiki Enterprise since early versions of the 2.x series. This feature was already described in a previous post with a nice video recording of the presentation Anca gave at FOSDEM 2011.

Besides annotations, we developed a backend based on the UIMA architecture for plugging semantic analysis components, analyze the content of the wiki and display the results as "automatically generated" annotations.

By using this backend it is possible to enrich the wiki with information that is implicitly available in the content, text and attachments, but not directly exploitable by the system.

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Extracted information is stored in a knowledge base using RDF. This allows developers to use the backend to perform complex semantic queries on the extracted content (e.g., all the documents, pages or attachments, that mention a city)

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The quality and the detail of the extracted knowledge depend on the semantic analysis components that are plugged in the framework. This is easily configurable from within XWiki, and the UIMA architecture allows easy reuse of existing components available on the market.

Now that the SCRIBO project is over we will work to make this prototypes part of the standard XWiki distribution and to empower XWiki with semantic technologies. Stay tuned!

Top 10 Features Not To Miss In The XWiki Open Source 2.x Cycle

The XWiki Enterprise 2.x cycle has introduced an amazing array of new features. Today we want to outline ten of the top features the XWiki community has developed during this cycle.

Colibri Skin

XWiki 2.0 introduced a new, lightweight, easily customizable skin.

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Color Theme Editor

The new editor allows fast and easy modifications of the look and feel of the wiki.

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New Profile UI

The user information is better displayed. The user settings and the watchlist can be easily managed. You can also stay up to date with a user's activity straight from the profile.

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New Search Interface

The default search page UI has been improved.

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Annotations

The annotations feature allows users to annotate text in an XWiki document. 

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Activity Stream

The "Recent Changes" section from the Dashboard has been renamed to "Recent Activity". The feature comes with a new UI and supports more events, including annotations and comments.

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Invitation Manager Application

The Invitation Manager application allows users to send emails, inviting friends and colleagues to join a wiki.

InvitationApplication.png

Template Based Page Creation

Users and applications can now provide documents that can be used as templates when creating new pages. 

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Office Preview

XWiki supports viewing attached office documents. All you have to do is click on the eye icon corresponding to the attachment you want to preview.

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Share Page by Email

XWiki Enterprise 2.6 introduced the possibility for users to share pages by email.

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For more information on the above features make sure you visit the dedicated page on xwiki.org. To download XWiki Open Source visit this page.

SF New Tech: XWiki's presentation is available

On March 30th, XWiki SAS participated in the SF New Tech event, "the largest, longest-running, and most-loved monthly tech event in San Francisco with 5000+ members". It has partnered with UbiFrance to show off the crème de la crème of French-built technology. Each company had to come on stage to make a short presentation. 

It was a great night and we are proud to say that we won the poll!

XWiki SAS's SF New Tech presentation is now available on Ustream (third part of the video):


Video streaming by Ustream

And here are few photos of the team, in San Francisco:

Joining The Open Source Conversation

XWiki adopts an open source strategy for its solutions. The big open source discussions usually take place on the mailing lists, which are the main communication channels for the XWiki community

Types of Mailing Lists

There are three mailing lists you can post to:

  • users AT xwiki.org: For questions about using XWiki, suggestions for improvements, ideas, etc.
  • devs AT xwiki.org: For the XWiki development itself.
  • notifications AT xwiki.org: All SVN commits diff, JIRA issues and Continuous Build failures are sent to this list. XWiki developers must be subscribed to this list to follow what's going on.

Before sending mails to any of the lists mentioned above you'll need to subscribe. To learn more about the dynamics of an open source mailing list you can read these tips.

Forum

The XWiki mailing lists can can be also accessed as a forum by using Nabble in Embedded mode or Gmane.

Archives

XWiki lists are archived on:

IRC

In XWiki all major decisions are taken on the mailing lists. However, if you have a question or prefer to chat, you can join the XWiki IRC channel. The chat rooms are publicly logged. You can find the XWiki chat archives on this page.

Read more about the XWiki and its commitment to open source in the Community section. If you go to the xwiki.org website you can find the full list of ways to contribute to the XWiki Open Source project.

Content Structuration and Metadata Management in XWiki

This post deals with content structuration / metadata management in XWiki

A common need were working on documentation and collaboration related matters is data enrichment. Being able to centralize information like wikis do is great. Being able to use additionnal information in order to describe and better organize, find that information via the use of metadatas is even better. In this post we will have a look at how XWiki fulfills this objective.

Explaining the concept of "Data description" using metadatas

You may be asking yourself "What does describing datas mean?". To explain a concept, nothing's better than a real life example: When classifying your administrative papers you do not put them in the hallway of your appartment... You probably use a metal box in which you have several files with a label on each of them. Each label matching a category. One for Health, one for Insurance, Work, Taxes, etc. When you classify you latest payroll in that metal box, you describe that sheet of paper as corresponding to the category "Work". "payroll" data is described by "Work". We could use other labels inside those files for years. Therefore each paper filed in the box would be described by:

  • A category (Health, Work, Insurance, Taxes, ...)
  • A Year (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, ...)

    Each of those are called "metadata". The page and the way it is described is called "content structuration". We can use the concept to describe any type of data. As an example, a type "Event" could be described by:

  • a title
  • a description
  • a location
  • a date
  • an organizer (person)
  • ...

    Here at XWiki, we participate every year in "salon intranet et travail collaboratif" conference. This year we developed a small application allowing us to keep track of all people coming to see us on the stand. The application is located inside our current intranet. Each "Prospect" have following metadatas:

  • First name and last name (text)
  • contact information (text)
  • whether he/she wishes us to get back to her (yes/no)
  • a description of the collaboration need (text)
  • when the project is supposed to be launched (date)
  • number of persons involved in the project (number)

    Create, Update, List and View your Structured Datas with XWiki

    Describe Datas to be Created/Managed

    XWiki allows you to create all type of structured data. A wizard assists you during the structured data description process. This wizard is located at page XWikiClasses of space XWiki. It allows you to describe the "model" to be used to manage your new type of data. This "model" is called a class. Developers are familiar with that concept. Once the class is created, you can add all kind of property: text, rich text (WYSIWYG), date, user, number, list, etc. Here is how the page allowing us to create "Propect" class looks like:

    Edition-classe-xwiki-2.jpg

Create and Edit your Datas

Now that your data structure has been defined, you can create your datas. For each property defined, XWiki will display the appropriate web form. In our example, here is how the form will look like:

mode-formulaire-xwiki-2.jpg

Display your Datas

We have seen how to define our data structure, create and update our data. The only remaining task is to display our datas. XWiki features a powerful livetable component allowing you to display a given type of datas in the wiki. This feature is particularly appreciated by our clients because it is very user friendly, it is similar to the excel filtering feature and allows you to find a page very quickly. See how it looks like when configured to display our "Propect" class.

Affichage-donnees-tableau-dynamique-livetable-2.jpgThe livetable allows to filter each column. Finding people wishing that we get back to them, or looking for "Christophe" prospect is straight forward! Several filters can be combined together. If many datas are supposed to be displayed by the livetable, a pagination system allows you to browse throught the result pages.

For some of our clients, we even set-up a "livetable excel export" feature. With or without filtering, our client can export the content of the livetable in excel format simply by clicking on a button! It allows to use the exported file to create dashboards, inject it in another system or simply annotate it and share it with colleagues and partners.

To Go Further: FAQ Example

Hands on! If you wish to go further and put into practice this powerful XWiki feature, a very well tutorial has been written by the community and is available at: http://platform.xwiki.org/xwiki/bin/view/DevGuide/FAQTutorial

And since XWiki is also a development platform, you can think of any extension or additionnal feature in order to adapt it to your special needs!

Don't hesitate to contact Guillaume who will be happy to answer you questions on XWiki : guillaume@xwiki.com / +33(0)1-45-42-40-90

Making Office Content Accessible In The Wiki

One of the things users love most about XWiki is being able to access office content from the wiki.

The office importer allows users to import office documents like word documents, spread sheets and presentations into wiki pages easily. Existing office documents are converted into wiki pages which you can further edit using the wysiwyg or wiki editor. You can read one of our previous posts to learn more about how to use the office importer and how to do mass imports for more than one document. 

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The office document viewer is another great tool which allows you to copy/paste office content inside wiki pages and make it accessible without downloading or importing the content.

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Using our office preview feature you can see what an attached office document looks like straight from the attachments tab by clicking the eye button.

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If you prefer working directly in Microsoft Word, XWiki has a solution for this as well. Simply create your content in Microsoft Word and add it to the wiki at a later time using XOffice.

To try them out create a free account on XWiki Cloud or download and set up XWiki Open Source.

Calculating the ROI of Enterprise Social Software

How to measure the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 software and demonstrate its ROI. Here is an infographic created by SocialCast that gives you details... something to think about.

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XWiki Open Source 3.0 Released

We are happy to talk to you today about the XWiki Open Source 3.0 release. A lot of new features have been added to your favorite wiki. To name a few:

  • User status
  • Visual editor for the dashboard
  • Gallery macro and office presentation viewer
  • PDF export improvements
  • A redesign of the administration application
  • Administration section for the WYSIWYG editor
  • A new interface for changing a user's avatar
  • Live suggestions for search
  • Color theme improvements

User Status

The user status allows you to easily share information with other people across the wiki. You get to decide whether you share status updates with everyone, your followers or only with a selected user or group. Want to ask your team's opinion about a project you've been working on? Nothing easier! Just type in your status, select Group from the Visible to dropdown, type in your group's name (e.g. Marketing) and click share. The user status also provides a great way to see what other people are saying. You don't need to check what everyone's sharing. Instead you can follow users and make sure you only see those updates that are relevant to you.

UserStatus.png

Visual Editor for the Dashboard

Ever thought about changing a dashboard but didn't really know where to start? With the new visual editor each element on your wiki dashboard represents a gadget, making the dashboard fully customizable. By editing the page inline you can easily add more columns to your dashboard and add or remove gadgets to your liking. You can move things around the dashboard simply by dragging a gadget from its current place and dropping it in the new location. You can also edit the individual gadgets. So for example if you are displaying an RSS feed, you can customize it so that you only see the most recent item or 10 of the most recent items. Similarly you can choose to see full posts or just their titles. It's up to you how you customize the gadgets on your dashboard. This new feature can be used to create and modify wiki dashboards, including for the wiki homepage and space home.

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Gallery macro and office presentation viewer

Previous XWiki releases already allowed you to view images and office presentations inside wiki pages. The new Gallery Macro helps you create galleries where images are displayed using a slide-show view. What's more, you can use this macro to display slides in an office presentation.

Gallery.png

A redesign of the administration application

The administration application has been redesigned and comes with a new layout and new icons.

Administration.png

Administration section for the WYSIWYG editor

The WYSIWYG content editor can now be easily configured from the wiki administration. This option is available in the WYSIWYG Editor section under the Applications menu.

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Live suggestions for search

The 3.0 release introduces the search suggest feature for the search box. The proposed suggestions come from sources that you can configure from the Administration UI.

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Much more

Check out the release notes or better yet download XWiki Open Source to learn about all the other features, including the new interface for changing a user's avatar and improvements brought to the PDF exporter and Color Themes.

Enterprise Social Software, by Cecil Dijoux

A very interesting presentation on enterprise 2.0, by Cecil Dijoux.

Geek Snow Camp 2011

The original post was published on Vincent Massol's personal blog.

The OSSGTP and Les CastCodeurs have organized a 2 days Snow Camp in France at Les 2 Alpes 3 weeks ago (April 2011). I was there with 20 or so other geeks and we had a great time skiing and discussing of technology and of our open source projects.

Just to name a few:

  • Emmanuel Bernard – JBoss by Red Hat
  • Henry Gomez – eXo Platform
  • Mathilde Lemée - Independant
  • Ludovic Poitou ForgeRock
  • Julien Viet – eXo Platform
  • Christophe Laprun – JBoss by Red Hat
  • Alain Defrance – eXo Platform
  • Miguel Moquillon - Silverpeas
  • Arnaud Heritier – eXo Platform
  • Emmanuel Hugonet – Silverpeas
  • Jean-Laurent Morlhon - Xebia
  • Paul Sandoz – CloudBees
  • Vincent Massol – XWiki
  • Jean-Baptiste Lemée – Independant
  • Emmanuel Lécharny – Iktek

snowcamp.jpg

I was lucky to have Emmanuel Bernard as a private Git coach emoticon_wink He's a good teacher who makes you learn fast. Just try to make a mistake and you'll see what happens... emoticon_wink XWiki was just moving to Git (and GitHub) and I was in need of a quick training session to get me started. I got help from the other geeks too and that's when I discovered that Git wasn't an exact science... everyone has his own way of using it and there are lots of ways of doing the same thing... 

I had some fun coding a quick GitHub integration in XWiki too using Groovy.

On the second day we recorded a special LesCastCodeurs podcast; we arranged 15 geeks around a table and launched some tech topics at random to get a discussion started. The result is available here (in French).

Let's do this again next year!

In May, in Paris, don't miss us at Solutions Linux and i-expo

In May, in Paris, there are two major events not to miss and i-Solution Linux Expo! XWiki SAS and will be there!

Solutions Linux 2011 (Paris, 10-12 May 2011)

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In mid-May XWiki SAS will be present at the Solutions Linux/Open Source event that will take place in France. We welcome you to visit our booth (OW2 Village) and to attend our conferences. The first talk will be a roundtable about open source and enterprise social networks. It will be held on May 10th, from 9:30 to 11:00 am. The second discussion, which is scheduled for May 12th at 10:30 am, is part of the OW2 track and will concentrate on XWiki, education and professional training. More information and details about the registration can be found here: http://www.solutionslinux.fr/.

i-expo (Paris, 18-19 May 2011)

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One week after Solutions Linux 2011, XWiki SAS will be at La Defense to participate in i-expo 2011. Don't miss our presentation on May 19th, from 4:00 to 4:45 pm (in room 1) and feel free to visit oour booth: 6D2!