If all you have is a hammer ...

by Volker Weber

Some folks are discovering weblogs and try to apply this solution to existing, sometimes poorly solved problems. Joe Litton is proposing to use weblogs as a documentation tool. It is an interesting idea, but I would first take a look at Wikis instead.

I am setting up my own wiki for testing purposes. Don't expect wonderful things there as it is only a test bed. I am using WakkaWiki because that is a rather simple and fast tool, which only requires a web server like Apache, PHP and MySQL. So, before you start recreating Wikis in Domino fighting with nasty Notes rich text or multivalue fields, remember that all of these components are free. :-)

The good thing about Wikis is that they do autolinking and creation of new pages for so called WikiWords that are recognized by their weird capitalization. And you can override the feature if you must, [[Volker Weber]] would force a link and "WikiWord" would deny one for an otherwise WikiWord.

Update: The first comment from Jens-Christian Fischer warrants an update on the front page. He has actually tried to build a Notes Wiki and in the tradition of Linus Torvalds invites you to take a look at his code and take it forward. If anyone is inclined to build one himself, this may be a very good starting point.

If you have any doubts about the viability of Wikis for documentation purposes look no further than [[http://www.wikipedia.org Wikipedia]]. Oops, we are not in a Wiki, so we need to format the link as <a href="http://www.wikipedia.org">Wikipedia</a>. So this is your way to Wikipedia.


As one who has "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" - I can only strongly suggest, everybody leaves their hands from a Wiki in Notes. If you dare, take a look at http://www.invisible.ch/archives/000073.html

Jens-Christian, 2003-05-15

Interesting stuff. When it comes to Domino specifically, we hardly have "one hammer" though. Sure, I would be a little dubious about a weblog template's suitability for finalised project documentation. But as an ongoing log of development -- something that's relatively informal and low-maintenance for the project team -- weblogs have something to add I believe, as do wikis.

Ben Poole, 2003-05-15

This is a turn-around since we chatted by e-mail about Wikis around 18 months or two years ago - what has changed your mind? As I remember you didn't think much of them at all then.

John Keys, 2003-05-15

The difficulties I was seeing were less about technology but about culture. I still see them as I try to fly this idea by some people who have lived in tightly controlled environments. "You mean, I can just edit this page?". They see all kinds of problems that are relatively unlikely but that undermine their trust in this solution. Their mindset is completely about control. Everything is "verboten" and they control the exceptions.

That is obviously not the case with developers that work in CVS enviroments where everybody can check out or check in new code.

Somewhat unrelated: WakkaWiki happens to have exactly the features that I want and its design pleases me right out of the box. If I had not made a very stupid mistake while setting up the virtual host for the site, it would have run within minutes.

Volker Weber, 2003-05-15

"before you start recreating Wikis in Domino fighting with nasty Notes rich text or multivalue fields" - but Volker we are Domino developers - we think that Domino can do anything - and we will always setout to prove that! - have I never mentioned the entire operating system written in domino...... ;-)

Steve Castledine, 2003-05-16

Very good / usable Notes wiki:


Andrew Tetlaw, 2003-05-16

Old vowe.net archive pages

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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