Fed up of using Wiki?

Guys,

You might be wondering what I just blogged, with such a question as the title, and more over, me using Wiki since NetBeans 6.0 FCS. After all, I am the NetBeans Community Docs Team Member. Then, why am I asking you? Are you fed up of using Wiki?

A single question can be more influential than a thousand statements.- Bo Bennett

Jan ’08

During CFF, everyone had the choice to contribute a useful plugin, which might let them win a cool laptop in the end, and the fame one would get ;)

I was also one of those thinkers, and thought of creating a cool plugin, with no knowledge of NetBeans Platform, and just one thing in mind, “I had to do a lot to write a readable, well-formated Wiki page, using Wiki Editor at wiki DOT NetBeans DOT org!”.

So, I penned down a thought, i.e. to create a module for NetBeans, which would help me, as well as the whole community, to write Wiki’s from within the NetBeans.

Feb ’08

CFF ended, however NBIG started, so I polished my thought (along with Amit Kumar Saha), and finally, created a proposal to be submitted by team of 3 people, exclusive of Amit :|

Apr ’08

Results were announced, I faced rejection. It took me a week to realise that dream is over. However, how can I, a fan of Diehard series, Rocky, Rambo and lots of inspiring movies, give up so easily?

A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.- Bo Bennett

Also, during those days, a contributor of docs program, Jay Mahadeokar, showed interest in this, by blogging about the thought. We interacted and as you can see the comments over that particular post, I suggested that either we or someone from community should do this.

However, there were not many people reacting to that blog, reasons- it was probably not listed in Planet NetBeans :|

Jun ’08

After 2-3 weeks of discussion, we decided to finally start off this project. During that time, I realised what were the con’s of my original proposal. This time, we were well prepared.

So, Jay blogged about the thought, for feedback from the community, what they feel like, as we were in the process of finalizing a revamped proposal.

Again, not much feedback to think upon.

July ’08

Jay got busy with his new responsibilites as a Sun Campus Ambassador, and gradually, I again started to loose interest in this, as my final year at university started, and I was appointed as NetBeans Dream Team Member, during that time, as well as got selected for NetCAT 6.5.

I was about to move on, and leave this thought, which was developing into an idea, for someone to work upon in future.

Ray of Hope

Our Technical Community Manager, replied in one of my mails sent in June, to one of the NetBeans mailing list. He showed interest, and this time, I single handedly managed all the discussions, had some brainstorming sessions.

You must do the things you think you cannot do.- Eleanor Roosevelt

Also, while I had researched about this project, I looked at the scope of the project, i.e. target audience I would need to focus on. I observed NetBeans Developers, Technical Writers, and many others using Wiki for so much documentation, either for creating design specs, tutorials, faqs, or presenting New and Note Worthy for every release.

Proj-specific Issues dashboard also exist on the Wikis. I might have missed some more usage, still its a massive usage!

Aug ’08

Recently, I thought of making this project, as my graduation project, i.e. final year project for completing B.Tech. I got support from my batchmate, and together we started planning about the idea.

Currently… (Updated)

I would say, that I have come a long way, since creating that thought in January this year. Now, I would like to know, what do you feel about this project. I will provide some related documents shortly.

Actually, we have few things in mind, I will discuss one of the idea’s here-
We are thinking of extending the existing projects support in the NetBeans IDE, by adding another physical folder “wikis”, represented in Logical View as “Docs”, where one would be able to add a wikipage using “New File Type Wizard”, whose Editor support is currently being thought of, as either providing a Framework upon which Wiki standards like JSPWiki, Twiki, etc. can be implemented for NetBeans, OR making use of Wiki Creole 1.0!

Wiki Creole 1.0

Some more details, as formulated just an hour back. We are thinking of having a MultiView Editor[1], where user would have 2 buttons to toggle view between Design and HTML, similar to the one proposed by Winston Prakash[1], just a month back. See that post for insight on how such a Web Page Designer is presented within the IDE.

As far as I could understand Wiki Creole, it lets us create an XML file, as per the rules of a standardized XML Schema. XML file represents a Wiki Page, so if we could somehow make use of the above utility and XML Multiview API, XSLT or some thing which should make sense. Then, I guess this could be achieved as well.

[1] http://blogs.sun.com/winston/entry/web_page_designer_for_netbeans

Feedback…

Whatever limited knowledge we have about the above, we have come out with something like this to be implemented for use.

Now, I want to know, whether is it really going to help you? OR, I am wasting my time, thinking about this.

Few people from Sun, showed interest in this, either on mailing lists, or NetBeans Podcast (Gregg, Roman). They were in favor of having such a feature in NetBeans. Still, I would like to know from all of you, the community members. What say?

Thanks :)

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14 thoughts on “Fed up of using Wiki?

  1. Hi Varun,
    today it’s the first time I hear about the idea of creating a plugin for editing wiki content with Netbeans. I like the idea very, very much. Each and everyone in my team is writing wiki content daily.
    It would be nice to have a plugin which would connect directly to our internal wiki. We use Confluence as many other open source projects, too.
    This means that such a plugin would need to have generic interface to be able to connect to different wiki servers.
    I compare this with plugins for editing blog content which are available for different tools and IDEs (not only). The good ones can alo connect to different blog servers.
    You asked if this would help me and the answer is yes, although it’s not a must have…
    Accordingly the wiki syntax must be flexible/configurable, too. Do you think I am dreaming?
    As I have Netbeans open nearly all the time of the day I would appreciate such a plugin very much.
    Currently I write my content with a simple editor which does not support wiki style in any way. Then I paste the content into Confluence. Having netbeans with syntax coloring and some other nice features would help me.

  2. It would be cool if you could expand upon this to enable using NetBeans for the creation of FitNesse requirements

  3. Klaus,

    Well, our plugin would enable editing wiki’s independent of internet connectivity. So, there won’t be any interaction with the Wiki servers. AFAIK, I need to have a mechanism to checkout/check-in the pages onto the servers, they might already be having some internal revision management system.

    Right now, focus is to provide the user comfort to create/edit Wiki’s locally. So, once its done, the wiki markup code could be copied and pasted into the online wiki editor you use.

    HTH :)

    Thanks for your support!

  4. I think its a great idea and I thought about it when we were chatting the other week and u told me about a NBIG idea… It could be a nice and useful plugin. You could look into a lot of desktop blogging tools and take inspiration. Windows Live Writer, Ecto, w.bloggar come to mind, which most times use XML-RPC to communicate with different blogging platforms…

  5. Hi Varun,
    That’s a cool idea and I agree with you that the current online wiki editor sucks. What if I don’t have internet connection? The plugin must be something like a desktop blog editing tool. I must be able to create wiki pages, save them locally, but must be able to publish it later. NetBeans definitely needs a good plugin for this. Go ahead. Wish you all the best.

  6. @ Saptarshi,

    Thanks for the pointers, will look into that, if it fits current scenario.

    @ James,

    You understood the project perfectly. Thanks for the support :)

  7. Mike,

    We are just in the initial stages, and I said, with the limited knowledge we have, we are still planning on how to go about it. Though, Wiki Creole is seems to fit the scenario, and it might also help integrate FitNesse. Still, I would say, we have a long way to go..

    So, stay Tuned for more information…

    Thanks :)

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