MediaWiki vs TWiki

I’ve used MediaWiki  (http://www.mediawiki.org/) for a couple of years, but stumbled across TWiki (http://twiki.org/) the other day. I like TWiki! In fact, I’d switch my sites to TWiki now if I had the time (time to install and experiment, time to learn a new Wiki syntax or install a plugin to accept MediaWiki syntax, and time to convert my sites).

TWiki impresses me for several reasons:

  • TWiki page editing is familiar to non-technical users (i.e., users whose background in document authoring is Microsoft Word and Outlook). A WYSIWYG editor is standard, images are added directly to pages (unlike the 2-step process with MediaWiki), and drawings can even be created right on the page (through a drawing plugin).
  • TWiki has a database plugin and a chart plugin available, and a page can have a table or chart showing live data from an enterprise database. If this is available within MediaWiki, someone please tell me how!
  • TWiki appears to have a strong following within corporate enterprises. There are corporate testimonials on the TWiki website with an honest (and familiar!) ring to them.

A couple more notes:

“TWiki is the most popular wiki used behind corporate firewall; it gets downloaded 5,000 times a month and is in use by the majority of Fortune 500 companies. Some TWiki deployments behind corporate firewall have over 500,000 pages and more than 20,000 registered users.” (WikiMatrix. http://www.wikimatrix.org. Accessed 2011-10-13)

“TWiki is installed … 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 website, http://twiki.org, accessed 2011-10-13)

TWiki is written in Perl and JavaScript, and uses the file system for storing data. MediaWiki is written in PHP, and uses a database (e.g., MySQL) to store data and the file system to store media.

Now, back to if I had the time ………

P.S. I came across this great tip for simplifying MediaWiki’s 2-step process for embedding an image on a page:

  1. Create the page
  2. Put a reference on the page to the intended image using a made-up name
  3. Save (or preview) the page
  4. Click the reference on the page to the image (which will be in red showing the image isn’t available), which will take you to the upload form with the image name already filled in.

Thanks Henrik! (see http://henrik.nyh.se/2007/09/mediawiki-image-upload-tip)

Maestro Business Opportunities

Where are the opportunities for Maestro? The greatest opportunities are in Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

A small-to-medium enterprise (or SME) typically has less than 250 users, occupies a common physical office, and has an entry-to-mid-tier ERP system for managing operations and financial reporting. It may have a well-defined IT infrastructure, often from a single vendor (e.g., Microsoft DNS/DHCP/domain controller, an Exchange mail server, a SharePoint knowledge server, MS-SQL database Server, etc.), or an ad hoc structure with peer-peer networking providing shared access to resources such as shared data and printers. 

However, a SME often doesn’t have formal processes for document vaulting, non-conformance and issue management, change management/version control, and product data management. Also the ERP system may be perceived primarily as a financial system since it often is controlled by the Finance department, and is not available to engineering staff or provide traceability for serialized raw material or finished goods. Although SME’s may be certified to a QMS  (e.g. ISO 9001), operationally they are often dependent on people-driven document-oriented processes. If electronic documents are used, they are often stored either where they cannot be accessed by all users, or in an uncontrolled network share. 

An SME can also be distributed, where employees do not share a common physical office. In this case, it will typically not have formal resources for sharing information, and will rely on email or ad hoc cloud storage (e.g. Dropbox, OneDrive or iCloud).

Maestro

Maestro can be used to consolidate existing systems, regardless of whether the SME is centralized or distributed. It can be hosted on a user workstation, on a dedicated server on the local network, or with a cloud hosting provider. Internal hosting may be preferred for its perceived security advantages, but hybrid and cloud architectures can be just as secure – if not more so, since the same security policies will apply regardless of whether the user is connected through the internal network or the internet.

Information Management and Data Integrity

CA Magazine’s Sept. 2011 issue lists the top 10 tech issues facing the accounting profession, according to the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. The number 1 issue is information management and data integrity.

This corroborates my own professional experience. For too many businesses, there is no way to tell which copy of a document is the one “true” version, all the more difficult if there are multiple copies of the document scattered across personal directories and shared network directories. Almost as bad, there is no way to tell what changes have been made to a document over time, by who, for what reason, and if they were authorized by someone in authority.

Big business solves this in typically big business ways, and with a big price tag. Achievo is a solution for SMEs (and medium organizations that know better).

Maestro Trial Screencast

I’ve been experimenting with creating Maestro screencasts using Ubuntu GNU Linux on my ThinkPad T23. Here’s a short demo showing the Project Management component. It should play without issue using FireFox, but you will need to install the Ogg Theora codec if you use Internet Explorer (FireFox comes with it built-in).  Oh, and there’s no audio….. (I said it was an experiment <wink>)