will white wrote: > I'm dubious that folks in most development environments have the > leisure to dawdle around in a wiki when they have their own workloads > to get through. Or am I misunderstanding the charm of a wiki? It > sounds like a mechanism to convince other people to do my work.
Wikis are currently underpowered, but they support some of the concepts that will find their way into everyone's work sooner or later. The most significant is probably collaborative creation of data rather than the classic "amend, distribute, discuss" loop, where contradictory views may take several iterations to reconcile to everyone's satisfaction. Take the example of contract creation - a contract can bounce around for weeks over relatively minor changes. The lawyers on both sides should be looking at, annotating and modifying the same document, not just a copy. There should be a full revision history of the document including information about who made the changes and when. When both sides are happy with the result, they should version the document with a view to declaring it to be final. Nearly any type of information would benefit from this approach - the idea that you could have the engineers, the business analysts, the technical writer and the coders all involved with specifying requirements is another example. Perhaps you'd have the technical writer able to edit the document and all the rest able to participate in threaded discussions at the requirement level, but not actually able to edit the document. In that scenario, everyone has to step up to the plate and take responsibility. If you've had an opportunity to contribute but have failed to do so, it's quite clear who has let the side down. We've been betting on that approach for over 8 years, since we started developing PageSeeder (http://www.pageseeder.com). The problem with wikis is that people want to create documents with more structure than wikis support - they want a contract to contain sections that contain clauses. Making them use wiki markup is like making people author in HTML, but wikis are a step in the right direction. We believe that you need to hit the XML schema that the data conforms to, not force a lowest common denominator solution. This explains my feelings for treating FrameMaker primarily as a typesetting engine rather than the centre of the documentation process. Unless Adobe are planning something dramatically different for FrameMaker, there is a real requirement for the data to be XML and to exist outside of FrameMaker. Of course you still need to paginate and print your hardcopy, but only after the hard work of producing the content has been finished. It's a great tool for producing hardcopy - I started using it in the early nineties and have always been a fan. If you use all of the functionality that it has though, you will not be able to pursue options like those described above. Your data will be too dependent on your application. A robust system needs to prioritise the data and make use of applications, not shape the data in accordance with the feature set of a particular application. Okay, okay, I'm off the soapbox... Marcus