Thursday, November 01, 2007

Web 2.0 without Notes 8 - Getting Started with DominoWiki

For Notes 7 (possibly 6.5) and above.

This blog entry covers my installation of Domino Wiki from a business rather than a techncial perspective.

What is a wiki?
Wiki's have been around for years and probably the best known of these is the wikipedia. The simplest description would be a hyperlinked online encyclopaedia which allows web-based editing.

Ideally, wiki's aren't centrally updated in-house but could be updated by certain categories of users on the web. There's still a bit of debate over whether or not this is a good idea but I'm not going to spend time worrying about this, it's simply an ACL change for domino.

There's obviously better definitions of wiki's elsewhere but I'd guess that the best way to find out what one is, is to use one.

Why would my organization need a wiki?
At first, this may seem like a difficult question to answer. After all, if IT is meant to be a technology enabler rather than a business driver, there needs to be some fairly good justification for using such a tool.

My Justification
My workplace currently has high staff turnover rates. It also has a lot of external committees whose members are frequently changing. Finally, some of our longer term members are starting to leave.

The result, a lot of intenal knowledge is walking out the door.

It's my belief that a wiki could help us to retain some of that knowledge in an easily searchable format.

About DominoWiki
DominoWiki is a brilliant wiki product for Lotus Notes/Domino developed by the OpenNTF team. It seemed obvious to me that I should be using this product since it leveraged my existing domino server's web services and security.

Where to Get DominoWiki
DominoWiki doesn't ship with Notes 7 but it is available for download from OpenNTF. You need to subscribe to download but it's well worth it - there's a lot of useful goodies on OpenNTF.

Saving the Template
Save the NTF Template somewhere on your domino server, sign it and make ACL Changes as required.

You can then create a new database from the template.

There's a good blow-by-blow walkthrough here, so I won't bother repeating it;

Configuring the Wiki
Once you get to the configuration screen, it's worth having the wiki open in your browser window while you work. This helps you to see the effects your changes are having.

Once again, I'll not go into details here because the support is so good and their documentation is better than I'd write.

I'm not sure if you should full text index the wiki, but I've decided to do it anyway, just in case.

When you've finished the single wiki configuration screen, you can work on your wiki via the web.

Initial Pages
The first thing you should do is go into your Notes Client and locate the StartPage in the All Documents view. Open this page up, click the edit button and then deselect the checkbox that says
[x] Is this page locked

Click Save and then Close.

Now, refresh the Wiki in your web browser and click the Edit Page button at the bottom of the screen.

You'll want to type some introductory text for the wiki and create some links to your main topics.

Once you've got your start page in decent shape, you'll want to lock it again. Editors should be able to edit your main topics but there's really no reason to give them permanent access to modify the start page.

Camelcase and Brackets
It took quite a bit of searching for me to determine how to make wiki links.

The default method is called CamelCase, whereby you type a single word using fUnnyCapitalisation. I really don't like this, it's fine for a techie wiki but really awful for a corporate one.

The other method is to use double [[square brackets]]. This is much more acceptable.

Wikipedia mentions a way to use aliases within square brackets but at version 1.1, I don't think DominoWiki permits this.

Now I can open the system up to our staff to, hopefully brain-dump in.

1 comment:

Julian Robichaux said...

For a WikiWord page, you can do an alias like this:

[wiki:WikiWord alternate text]

So, for a page with a title of LotusNotes, you could use something like:

[wiki:LotusNotes the best software ever]

to use "the best software ever" as the link text. That only works for pages that have proper CamelCase titles though.