Friday, May 15, 2009

Diving into Wiki’s

A recent project popped up at the Firm in regard to the storage and retrieval of unstructured, uncategorized data.  The request was to have a piece of software help to keep track of websites, contact information, client history and government programs related to a specific area of law.  After looking a numerous products including mind mapping tools, data tree tools, $harePoint and databases I picked a wiki as the best method to use to get started.  After reading and reviewing what was out there, I decided to try both phpwiki and MediaWiki.   image After a failed attempt at getting phpwiki going I tried MediaWiki and had things up in minutes.  No surprise here…there’s just a ton more information available about MediaWiki so I  was able to get it going faster. I probably could have gotten phpwiki going given enough time, but MediaWiki was good enough. 

The entire MediaWiki install took roughly 15 minutes. I won’t blog about the process because it’s already in plain English here.  What I really liked about MediaWiki was (1) the fact that it’s what Wikipedia is hosted on  (2) there are a ton of already developed plug-ins (3) the documentation is really good and abundant and (4) any idiot can edit it as proven by Wikipedia (shout out to Jerry on phrasing that point so eloquently!).

So far so good.  The basic product is pretty simple to use although the Wiki editing requires some inline html/Wordstar-like editing skills.  I’ll let you know how it goes but so far it’s been pretty cool.

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