Blog Archive

Blog posts for September 2013

How can the wiki culture change your business

It is generally accepted that modern technologies can help make your business more efficient by allowing information to easily spread inside the company, as well as be more accessible to all collaborators. However there are many methods to achieve this and they have very different effects on how the company culture evolves and, in the end, on which results the company can expect.

In a series of articles, entitled "How can the wiki culture change your business" I would like to share our experience with advanced wiki technologies used in the enterprise context and how these technologies have changed the company culture for the better. The fact is there are many things to learn from how wikis have transformed the communities and the organizations using them and how to apply this for the benefits of enterprises.

Here is the plan I will be following (make sure you save the link to this article, since we will be updating it):

  1. First a little background on Wikis
  2. Wikis in enterprises
  3. What is the wiki culture and what does it mean for enterprises?
  4. The benefits of the wiki culture
  5. How to start with the wiki culture
  6. Do tools matter for the wiki culture?

First a little background on wikis

Here is the first article of our series "How wiki culture can change your business." Before getting into the details, we will be offering a brief introduction to the history of the wiki and the benefits of using this tool!

The first wiki

The wiki concept was invented by Ward Cunningham in 1995 when he was looking for a way to build a community for sharing experience on good development patterns.
He designed the "most simple tool" which would achieve this goal. The key concept was pages that were freely editable to all participants with a system to easily create links from one page to another.
One of the key elements was that the link is created before the page and once the "save" button is clicked all content is instantly published without any approval process.

After the creation of the first wiki by Ward Cunningham, for which the code was made open source, other developers have created their own wiki software, improving and adding additional possibilities, but keeping the key concepts at the heart of the software.

Wikipedia

The wiki concept has been popularized by the creation of Wikipedia which had the objective of creating an encyclopedia of human knowledge using the wiki concept. In less than 10 years, Wikipedia killed the business of written or CDROM Encyclopedias created by experts and became one of the top 10 visited web sites around the world.
Today many Google searches will have as the top results a Wikipedia page. It has been an immense success, despite all criticism from "experts" on the quality of the Wikipedia content. It's been the proof that a community of many individuals contributing small pieces of work can beat a limited team of highly skilled individuals working full time.

While the Wikipedia experience cannot be applied as is for enterprises, there are many things to learn from it. Particularly, here are two important aspects that are important from my point of view:

  1. The success of Wikipedia is not about the size of each individual's contribution, but the opposite. It's about each individual bringing a little piece of his knowledge and combining it with the previous content. When sharing information, on a short time span, it might look like the bigger the contribution the better it is, but contributions don't add up like numbers. It's all about how contributions can be combined to become something bigger and of higher value. Two big Word documents will hardly be something you can combine easily, while progressively adding small pieces of content to an existing document will allow this combination to happen. It is important to note that what is obvious for the world's knowledge is also true inside an enterprise: no individual has all the knowledge.
  2. The quality of the end result is not only about the words in each page's content, but also about the organization of the content in the page and the links between the pages. A big part of the value of Wikipedia is the "organization of the information", which was also crowd-sourced.

This is particularly important in the enterprise context, when we compare wikis with social networks or document management systems. The later tools do not allow to work efficiently and collaboratively on information organization, which leads to very poor results in terms of navigability of the information.

So, does this apply to enterprises? We'll investigate it in the second article.

Ludovic Dubost
President & Founder

Organizing recruitment with the new Recruitment Application

How many times have you browsed through hundreds of CVs and emails, thinking there's got to be a better way to go through this mountain of information? The fact is the recruitment process is considerably more complicated when you've got information scattered between your email, recruitment websites, spreadsheets and offline data.

This month we're happy to present the brand new XWiki Recruitment application which aims to help HR teams to:

  • Organize candidate applications
  • Keep track of job postings

Three simple ways to organize your recruitment information:

1. Add all your job postings to the Recruitment application

This allows you to have all your jobs information in one place. You'll also be able to easily filter announcements by Validation (Draft / First Review / Final Review / Approved) and by Status (Active / Inactive / Prospect).

JobAreaHome.png

2. Create candidate profiles and link them to the job postings

Candidate profiles have three areas:

  • The "Personal Information" tab where you can add data about the people you interview and the job they're applying to.
  • The "Candidate Application" area where you may attach the cover letter, CV, as well as info regarding the sourcing process.
  • The "Evaluations" tab where interviewers may offer their opinion on the candidates and grade their performance.

Candidate.png

3. Easily find job applicants

The livetable on the Recruitment application homepage allows you to filter candidates by:

  • Name
  • Office
  • Job Posting
  • Status
  • Source
  • Date

RecruitmentAppHome.png

Try it out

The recruitment application provides a simple, yet powerful way to organize your recruitment processes. You can easily install it in your wiki by following these installation instructions.

New to XWiki?

Try out XWiki and the Recruitment application by creating a free cloud wiki and manually installing the application.

You can also check out the XWiki.org extensions wiki for more cool applications.

10 features you don't want to miss in XWiki 4.X

If you haven't been reading the XWiki release notes you may have missed the improvements introduced in XWiki 4.x. We're very excited about the results of the 4.x cycle which had "ease of use" and "quality" as its main themes. 

XWiki is a powerful, extensible tool, so we wanted to pay special attention to the "App within minutes" and the "Extension Manager" features which have been packed with improvements.

1. The Extension Manager provides the easiest way to install and manage extensions right inside XWiki, straight from the administration. Starting with the 4.x cycle you can also use it to easily upgrade or downgrade extensions on your wiki.

Extensions.png

2. One of the things you'll notice about XWiki 4.x are the many improvements in App Within Minutes, the extension that allows wiki users to create their own applications following 3 simple steps. The "Actions" column was added to the applications livetable. You can associate an icon with your custom application. You can also translate the application. A new "Applications" panel is displayed by default on the right side of the wiki, listing the current applications. The panel also contains links that allow you to easily create or install applications.

AppWithinMinutesApplicationsPanel.png
AppWithinMinutes.png

3. Starting with the 4.x cycle it is possible to hide a wiki page. This means you can decide whether the events triggered by these pages, such as creation, edit or delete, will appear in the Activity Stream. 

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4. With the annotations and comments merged by default it's much easier to keep track of conversations on pages. Improvements in this area also include the ability to reply to annotations. 

Annotations.png

5. The Activity Stream now allows you to stay informed on the changes users perform on pages.

ActivityStream.png

6. The timezone can now be set directly from the user preferences page.

Localization.png

UserDirectory.png

7. XWiki 4.x comes with new gradient Color Themes variables which can be customized from the Color Themes Wizard.

ColorTheme.png

8. The User Directory look & feel can now be customized by adding additional columns to the users livetable.

9. An admin can now configure which information is displayed in the User profile (the "Profile" tab of a user's profile page). There is no longer a need to write any code to perform this task.

UserProfileCustomization.png

10. An LDAP administration interface is now provided to make it easy to configure LDAP directly from the wiki. Previously you would have had to edit the XWiki Configuration files.

admin-ldap-ui.png

It's time to try out XWiki for yourself!

Looking to upgrade?

Contact us and we'll be happy to help you upgrade your wiki to the latest recommended version. If you're a cloud user your wiki has already been upgraded to XWiki 4.5!

New to XWiki?

You can create a free cloud wiki in just a few minutes.

Wikis in enterprises

Here is the second article of our series of articles, entitled "How can the wiki culture change your business".

The initial Wiki and Wikipedia are not entreprises wikis. However at the same time as Wikipedia developed, multiple wiki software solutions were being built with enterprises in mind. These software solutions have been conveniently called "Enterprise Wikis". 

Enterprises share similar challenges when it comes to knowledge as the initial wiki communities. But there are some differences.

The growing knowledge challenge

Enterprises are made of individuals who work together. Each of the individuals processes information. In today's "knowledge economy", enterprises are processing more and more information. 

Employees need to get access to the information processed by other employees. Historically the sharing of information is mainly performed one to one, with a small share of the information being shared through meetings or trainings, where information can spread from one to many or many to many).

Enterprises and employees have also become more mobile, with employees changing jobs or enterprises. Enterprises can also grow faster and are spread geographically more
than they used to be, with employees being less in the same physical space.

Enterprises face a challenge when it comes to making knowledge more accessible and spread more efficiently.

Enterprises also face the challenge of "lost information" when employees leave.
When hiring an intern in your company and once the intern leaves, what will stay with the company from the intern's work? If the intern's job is for example to create tasks or produce material goods, everything will be OK, but if his job is to produce "knowledge" it is key to plan how this knowledge will be preserved after the internship. 

In today's companies employees keep asking questions to other employees on "how to do this or this", with every week employees redoing something that another employee has already done. Huge productivity gains are made by solving the "knowledge challenge", and for some companies not solving it will be life threatening as they become less competitive.

Ludovic Dubost
President & Founder

XWiki Improvements Review: 2.4 - 5.1

During the XWiki SAS 2013 Seminar, Ecaterina Moraru, our Usability and Design Front-End Team Lead, prepared a presentation in which she reviewed the improvements and new features that have been added to XWiki between the 2.4 and 5.1 versions. 

For features that existed prior to 2.4 a comparative view is provided. You'll notice how the features look now and how they previously looked. The people that were involved in the making of the features are also listed.

For a complete list of what was integrated in this time frame make sure you read the XWiki Release Notes. Ecaterina's original blog post is available on the xwiki.org blog.

XWiki at SmartWeb 2013

Article originally published on xwiki.org

On the 24th of September I had the pleasure to participate to SmartWeb, the "first world class web conference in Eastern Europe", held in Bucharest.

The presentations covered topics such as Responsive Web Design, writing CSS the right way, performance, working with a distributed team, usability testing, etc. (Take a look at the program)

smartweb.png

Some of my favorite talks:

  • Jonathan Snook - he is most known for his SMACSS (Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS) book and my main reason to go to this conference. He had a nice presentation and he is an amazing person. We had a lovely talk about organizing the CSS modules of our project and the downfalls of using a CSS framework (mostly asked about integration with Twitter Bootstrap). The conclusion is that no matter how much a framework will externalize our base styling, we will always need to have custom spreadsheets, so we'd better make sure we create a scalable and reusable system. 
  • Vitaly Friedman and Vasilis Dimos - although they had separate presentations, their session was all about Responsive Design. The 'responsive movement' is not just a hype word anymore, but the industry already developed Responsive Design Patterns and techniques when dealing with responsive projects. You should really check out Vitaly's presentation.
  • Peter Gasston - held an interesting presentation about Web Components (Shadow DOM, Templates, Custom Elements, Decorators). The idea is to write custom, reusable HTML tags, that help developers encapsulate their HTML, CSS and JavaScript so it doesn't interfere with the rest of the page. It is an interesting concept and could be helpful for us to use it for our widgets/pickers/macros (like the datepicker, colorpicker, suggests and even our WYSIWYG could be written as a Web Component). The only thing I didn't like was the Decorators, because I don't think that applying markup with CSS is a good idea since it breaks the purpose of why CSS was build, and that is 'the separation of content and style'.
  • Dan Rubin - had a nice case study about usability testing in action. His presentation holds one my favorites quotes from this conference, and that is:

    Discover what users love, so you can protect it. - @danrubin

    We are constantly driven by change and I always try to find improvements to bring to XWiki, but sometimes maybe we just need to stop a bit and see what are the core concepts that bring users to want our platform. I have some ideas in mind (like extensibility, powerful development features, customizable, etc.) and right now I'm looking for ways to find our most wanted core features (and make sure we don't ever break them).
  • Carl Smith - really nice presentation about 'The Jellyfish Work Model', which "describes a temporary, distributed, decentralized team that creates its own roles and accomplishes tasks together." Everything he presented about his team I could find it in how our community is organized: having the committers ('core team') and the contributors ('friendgineers'), so I'm sure we are on the right path in organizing our team and sharing our common vision.
  • Bruce Lawson - great presentation about standards and what *not* to do on the Web. So glad that we cover many of the things presented by him and that we try to preserve accessibility and quality of the Web, and not destroy it (actually I guess he is really disappointed of us emoticon_smile ). 

It was a really nice conference and the international speakers were amazing. I wish for the future to see more romanian speakers and to continue to have this kind of events in Romania.