February 03, 2005

Fun with FlexWiki

Thanks to Rory's post about his NeoWikiDiki, I got to play around with FlexWiki and little and I ended up implementing it as an internal tool for our team.

I'm really not much on Wiki's - I didn't think they had much real-world use.  I have changed my mind a little bit - they do have a few real world uses.

Yesterday we were having a Dev Team meeting (for the first time in forever) and we were discussing the need to share some of our project/client/site notes among the team.  We are a geographically dispersed unit: most in the “silicon valley” area, but a few of us scattered about in places like Cincinnati and Seattle.  Even most of team who live in the area of our office tend to telecommute at least a few days a week. I work with several people who I have never even seen before.  For the most part we have mastered any issues caused by the distance, but there is still a little bit of a disconnect of course.  One of the major issues is that we all have our own “pet” projects that we work on - and each individual is really the only one who knows anything about those projects.  For example, if I go on vacation and someone from the Cincinnati Zoo needs some work done, the other team members may not even know where the site is located - let alone know anything about the process of performing normal maintenance.  We discussed the need to keep some “notes” that are readily available and easy to update for each of our projects - from basic information like URL, where it is hosted, primary contact information, etc. to processes for updating the site: is there a dev site, who needs to be contacted for review, etc.  At the time, rather than build a tool for all this information, we decided we might just create each one as a word doc and put it in a folder on our file server. 

After playing around with Rory's little Wiki for a while last night (that sounds terrible!), I realized that a Wiki would be the perfect tool for maintaining our project documentation that we had just discussed earlier in the day.  I downloaded FlexWiki, installed it, and after tooling around for about 10 minutes I had the hang of it.  I ran my idea by the rest of the team and they said okay (or at least none of them said “No“) so I set it up.  It is really easy to install and configure.  It may be the perfect tool for this application.

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