Peter Dolan of BMS Fired
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Collaborative Authoring - Part 7: The Blog and Wiki Alternative

The previous posts in this series on Collaborative Authoring have pointed out the pros (benefits) and cons (shortcomings) of an alternative approach to the traditional word processing (e.g. MS Word) method for authoring, review and approval. In particular, the posts have demonstrated what can and can't be done with Google's Writely product.

Two alternative software categories that should be examined as possible replacements for the desktop word processor and, to some extent, to the document/content management systems in use within Life Sciences are Blogs and Wikis.

Note: To those who do not yet appreciate the difference between Blogs and Wikis, just click on each of those words to get a definition from Wikipedia.

Most people are used to seeing Blogs and Wikis on the Internet. For our industry, most of these would be unacceptable. In other words, before either blogs or wikis can be used in our industry, there must be hardened, enterprise versions available. Luckily, there are already many offerings to choose from.

The following is a representative list of blog and wiki software. Actually, I have only listed a single enterprise blog vendor, Traction Software. Interestingly, there are many more Wiki than Blog vendors intended for corporate use. I will attempt to update this list as other blog and wiki software offerings come to my attention.

Note: The listing of any software company does not mean that I am in any way endorsing their product(s).

Vendor Product Description
Traction Software Traction

Traction Software's Enterprise Blog software is deployed by business and government teams to create an information sharing system that works like the web. Traction provides a dramatically efficient communication, collaboration and knowledge-sharing medium that presents business information and working communications in context, over time.

The platform supports team performance while flagging what's important in "unstructured information" and solving the acute pains of information and email overload. The revolutionary technology benefits a vast array of markets and uses by making the full power of web publishing technologies available to the end-user.

With Traction, users simply and easily harvest, organize, and share business-critical knowledge, communication, and information from email, the web, Microsoft Office and many other applications in a single dynamic writable hypertext system which can plug into their existing infrastructure or operate stand-alone on the Intranet or Extranet.

Traction is configured for single users communicating to their team or a specified audience within their organization, or it can be deployed for collections of teams working together and in parallel on various projects or programs.

Traction Software solutions are based on the company's core, patented, hypertext engine. Our pending patent covers the fundamental indexing, cross-reference and navigational elements that jointly make the Traction platform capable of outperforming traditional file and folder systems.

Atlassian Confluence

Confluence, the professional wiki, is a knowledge management tool designed to make it as easy as possible for a team to share information with each other, and with the world.

Confluence’s simple but powerful editing and site management features help teams share information, collaborate on documents and brainstorm ideas, all from a single web-based location. Confluence makes it easy to create, edit, link, search and organize pages using an easy-to-learn notation.

Features include:

  • Enterprise security
  • Simple installation and management
  • Attractive, user-friendly WYSIWYG interface
  • Powerful tools for structuring and searching your wiki
  • Professional features such as PDF export and automated refactoring
  • An open API for extension and integration
Viawiki Viawiki

ViaWiki is an enterprise-class wiki, combining the latest in intranet and document management tools into one, powerful office solution. With ViaWiki, your team will be better able to:

  • Share notes and documents
  • Manage media assets
  • Stay current
  • Locate information quickly
Instantly create a website, share pages, edit content, track changes, collaborate with coworkers, upload and download – all without knowing a stitch of HTML.
Socialtext Socialtext

As the first wiki company, Socialtext is the leader in making web collaboration secure, scalable and easy to use. A Socialtext wiki is a secure, group-editable website. Instead of sending emails and attachments, Socialtext customers use private web pages to work together.

Working in a Socialtext wiki allows everyone to work on the same page (literally):

  • Helps eliminate email overload
  • Much faster than working in shared documents
  • More up to date than a static Intranet

Socialtext provides both a hosted service for maximum convenience and a hardware/software appliance for easy behind-the-firewall installation.

Deployment options are designed for range of organizational needs: Enterprise, Professional, Personal and Open Source (coming in 2006).

TWiki TWiki

TWiki is a flexible, powerful, and easy to use enterprise collaboration platform and knowledge management system. It is a Structured Wiki, typically used to run a project development space, a document management system, a knowledge base, or any other groupware tool, on an intranet or on the internet. Web content can be created collaboratively by using just a browser. Users without programming skills can create web applications. Developers can extend the functionality of TWiki with Plugins.

TWiki is installed on many web sites, mainly behind corporate firewalls. Many major companies use TWiki because it is very user friendly compared to some well established commercial groupware systems like Lotus Notes.

TWiki can be used:

  • To replace a static intranet.
  • As a knowledge base and FAQ system.
  • To design and document software projects.
  • To track issues (i.e. bugs) and features.
  • As a document management tool.
  • To collaborate on common goals
  • As a software archive
  • As a company internal message board, i.e. for job listings.
JotSpot JotSpot

While other wikis only support plain old text, JotSpot allows you to create rich web-based spreadsheets, calendars, documents and photo galleries. It's as easy as using a word processor — you don't need to know HTML.

Sharing your JotSpot with coworkers and colleagues is easy. Our permissions system allows you to decide exactly who can see and edit your pages. And JotSpot doesn't require any special software — just a web browser and a network connection.

Leading Fortune 500 customers like Symantec, Intuit, eBay, Intel and Whole Foods use JotSpot to manage projects, power their intranets, share files and stay in sync with colleagues and customers.

CustomerVision BizWiki

CustomerVision delivers collaboration and web publishing with our hosted enterprise wiki.

CustomerVision puts the power of web content management into the hands of experts, managers and staff. An organization can create a content driven site without any special technical skills. This eliminates barriers to communication and knowledge sharing by making it easy for anyone to build a site and start publishing information and collaborating with colleagues.

CustomerVision was designed for enterprise deployment with a focus on affordability, reliability, and security. Meet your company’s business requirements for collaboration and content management without compromising your needs for centralized administration and provisioning, performance, reliability, and scalability.

Central Desktop Central Desktop

Central Desktop is a web-based collaboration tool for business teams and workgroups to efficiently share information and communicate with others both inside and outside the firewall.

Central Desktop provides easy ways to collaborate in real-time (web & audio conferencing), manage projects, coordinate tasks, foster group discussion and track documents and files.

Central Desktop is built for business teams located in small and medium-sized businesses as well as project teams and workgroups within larger companies. For many customers, Central Desktop is a compelling alternative to the expense and complexity of traditional collaboration software products such as Microsoft Sharepoint or Lotus Notes.

Comments

Peter

Thanks for the read. I agree with the points you made. http://www.rapidhawk.com also has peoples thoughts on the matter.

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