Many Pies

Many Pies

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Using media wiki for internal documentation

Many months ago I did an update on my quest to find a wiki for doing internal documentation.

Here's another update, following an installation of media wiki.

Even though I've edited pages on wikipedia, which runs on the media wiki software, it was useful to do an installation to get a flavour for what it might be like using it for real. The system I'm moving away from is a Lotus Notes out-of-the-box "document library". When I started editing wiki pages it made me realise what Lotus Notes gave me as standard:
  • WYSIWYG editing
  • ability to paste from formatted Word documents and retain formatting
  • automatic compiling of table of contents
  • easy linking of documents
  • easy embedding of images
Apart from the internal reasons for switching away from Lotus Notes I had to remind myself of why I was doing this:
  • easier access for remote users
  • email notification when a page changes
  • version history maintained
The problems with embedding pictures is something that web applications haven't overcome as far as I've seen.

Our corporate wiki software has good help with linking and allows the creation of child pages, and can do a resulting table of contents of child pages. It also does WYSIWYG editing.

Pasting from Word documents is a double edged sword. I've seen another WYSIWYG editor that allows it, but gives you the resulting horrible HTML that goes with it. Wikis don't tend to do that because of the difficulties in converting to the underlying wiki format. Why don't I use our corporate wiki you may ask? Among other things, its because procedure manuals don't fit with what the wiki is for.

One thing that I have got working with media wiki, is linking the logins to our Active Directory, to save people having yet another login.

So the question is, can I put up with a couple of shortcomings for the good things it does? Time to see how other wikis compare I think.

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