Blog Archive

Blog posts for September 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.

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

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

XWiki SAS will participate to OW2con 2016

OW2con'16 Annual conference : Code to Product

XWiki SAS will participate to OW2con 2016 which will take place in Mozilla's french headquarters, the 21st and 22nd of september.
Held for the eighth consecutive year, OW2con is the annual community event that brings together the OW2 community and technology experts, software architects, IT developers, project managers and decision-makers from all around the world.
This year's conference theme is "Code to Product". ...

ISO 9000: Step-by-step guide

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Image by SCY

Once with the rising competition in basically any industry that was around for more than 3 years, the need of creating or maintaining strategic advantages is a priority in any company. Thinking from the customer’s perspective, what are the reasons that make you choose a product over another one solving the same need? We can all agree the quality and the price are two of the most well known buying criteria. But what makes a price go up or down? I think the quality of the production and distribution process. A production workflow as efficient as possible is not only a guarantee of a qualitative product, but also a way to reduce costs which are strongly related to the retailing price.

What is ISO 9000?

This is where the International Organization of Standardization steps in. Founded more than 60 years ago, this entity with members from 163 national standards organisations is in charge of easing the worldwide trade by implementing common standards. Another important power is their ability to award a company an ISO certification which guarantees the end-user a product qualitative enough to pass the minimum international standards.

With more than 20.000 regulations published, the most famous one is the ISO 9000 family. The standards part of this group are approaching the quality management topic, ranging from the requirements to be certified to how to make an internal or external quality assurance audit.

How to get certified?

First of all you need to be sure you understand what this certification requires. Your company needs to get examined once before getting the certification and every year to check if you are still compliant by an accredited body from your country.

Step 1

This is the first time your company is in contact with the certified consultants or internal auditors. They need to check the quality management processes and create a plan of what needs to be changed or implemented to be able to get the ISO 9000 certification. Once you have created a list of procedures, your employees need to familiarise with it. This can be achieved by publicly posting it in visible places such as a knowledge base and by providing training sessions.

Step 2

Contact the accredited body in your country and request a pre-assessment which can be considered a trial run. Bear in mind, they are not allowed to consult, but some assistance will be provided in order to confirm that the quality standards implemented are efficient. At this stage there is no pass or fail, so feel free to adjust your standards to meet their recommendations until the final assessment.

Step 3

Compared to the pre-assessment stage, the documentation review is mandatory and it means that the first stage of the assessment process just started. The accredited body will focus on the quality manual and the management policies. The second stage is when they make a detailed control of the way the requirements are being met. Ranging from talking to your employees to observing the workflow in your company, the auditors will check everything so make sure you are all set before calling them. The amount of time needed for this is linked to the company size and at times it might require more days.

Step 4

If there are a few issues that prevent you from being certified, an action request will be written in the audit report and a time frame is provided to address those findings. On the bright side, if everything goes smooth, you will receive a certificate of registration once the review board is approving your case.

Step 5

At this stage you are fully certified and need to make sure you are compliant with the ongoing quality procedures. Once at 3 years, the accredited body will re-examine your entire quality management workflow, but remember that on an yearly basis some parts of the company will be examined too.

How XWiki can help?

Thinking of how the process of accreditation is being handled, imagine all those standards that need to be efficiently stored, easily accessible and simple to edit. By getting ISO 9000 certified, I think you are interested in being more efficient, right?

The best way to organise your documents in an efficient way is to use XWiki Knowledge Base for Procedures. You can get a feeling of what it looks and works like by creating a 10 days free cloud account.  Let me give you a tip, this will also help during your first stage accreditation process when the documentation is being checked. Believe me, showing that you efficiently store and provide easy access to the quality procedures goes a long way.

We wish you the best of luck and we want to congratulate your initiative, if you decide to become ISO 9000 certified!

George Nikolic
Marketing Specialist @ XWiki

Global needs. Simple solutions.

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Economic globalisation represents the concept of countries transacting commodities, services, know-how and money in an international context with the intention to stimulate and develop the world’s economy. This concept comes with a lot of benefits, but also some downsides. Companies often report a lack of communication and collaboration due to the geographical distances between the offices. Moreover, the large amounts of unstructured data, gathered after years of activity, are preventing multinational companies to perform efficiently and to be cost-effective.

Rapid growth of unstructured data

According to 40% of the respondents of a ESG survey on the cost of unstructured data, the most persistent challenge over the years is the rapid growth and the way unstructured data is managed. Moreover, the same study shows that only 36% of the average IT budget is spent on investments which are able to produce ROI, while the rest of 64% is spent on managing the unstructured data.

The reasons are diverse and could be influenced, as an example, by the lack of knowledge of how many copies are archived, what documents are relevant and there is always the risk of new employees to create or duplicate documents. Based on these facts we can understand of what importance it is to have everything structured in a collaborative platform, where any employee, no matter the technical skills is able to create, modify or share documents.

The client

This was the case of one of our clients. EMC is a global leading company with activities in the information systems and storage on the international markets. After continuously collecting data, EMC has faced a challenge in structuring and managing it in an efficient way. The consequence of leaving it unstructured is linked to poor efficiency and higher administrative costs. They had to find a way to manage large amounts of information mainly consisting in business proposals in Word format.

Our solutions

After research, they have chosen XWiki as the most suitable company to address their needs. Constantly communicating, we have understood the needs and started developing a structured knowledge base able to support EMC in their efforts of storing the internal competitive intelligence data. Moreover, in order to easily access information, we have implemented special filters for the ground teams to easily contribute with new articles and relevant information about their competitors. Furthermore, the Sales and Marketing teams have had their own special filter which was able to structure data based on the market and the product lines.

Once arrived in the implementation stage, we have offered our support in importing 30.000 Office documents in the newly created database. As the solution has been considered a valuable asset for the company, currently more than 5000 people within EMC are using it. If you want to know more about the EMC solution, please follow this link.

George Nikolic
Marketing Specialist @ XWiki