Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wiki mark-up

James Robertson has written a post stating that wiki mark-up has no future and that the future lies in WYSIWYG style editing.

James mentions that wiki fanatics are likely to take exception to the post but I can't see any reason why a true wiki fan would.

Surely the whole Idea of wikis are to open content creation up to the masses and wiki mark-up has to-date kept wiki editing limited to those that know it. It is plainly annoying. I liken it to a nineteenth century version of HTML but with all the variations making the old Microsoft vs Netscape vs W3C battles look like teddy bear picnics.

So James you're absolutlely right and with some of the newer tools I've seen the market agrees with you (no matter what those unwashed, friendless wiki hooligans may say).

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At 3:16 AM, Anonymous Brian said...

Nick, did you really say "teddy bear picnics"!?

We've had WYSIWYG editors and content management systems out the wazoo for umpteen years now.

It is the pure simplicity of Wikis that have made them so popular. Yes, that is also what limits them. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect tool for all problems.

I think though that some users do need help in remembering the markup, or learning it when they are new. That is already addressed in several Wiki implementations. You can select a word and click on a 'italic' button and it will add the markup.

Let me list the feature requests made by Mark that already exist in most Wikis (and any other text field of most modern browsers)
# Spell-checking
# Multiple levels of undo

I'm not sure what he means by "seamless". but there is no seemles s cutting and pasting from Word in most programs. It always gets garbled.

He requested an "Easy mechanism for creating links". Huh? In a Wiki you just past the URL and it becomes a link. What is hard about that??? If you want to use different text than the URL for the link, it is an incredibly simple format.

He wanted "Point and click image insertion". Where do you ever get trivial image insertion in a CMS system? The image always has to be uploaded, unless you want to embed the image like in word or in an e-mail message. That seems to be way off the mark of simplicity.

I'll give him 1 point only, which is that it is true that table creation is a bit of a chore in Wiki's, and there should be some work in that area.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Nick Besseling said...

Yes I really did say that. Must've been in one of my light hearted moods.

I think teh key is that yes it is simple for some of us but it does limit the spread of wikis intop the wider business environment because it isn't WYSIWYG.

For most organisations wikis without WYSIWYG are still the bastions of techies and frankly this limits the possibilities.

Wikis should be about conetnt not mark-up.

Pasting links? This is one of those wiki mark-ups issues. In the experience I've had with some tools this didn't happen. It required a | | etc etc. Not a copy paste. Which is one of the points made by James. All the mark-ups are different from system to system which is the reason the whole idea of wiki mark-up will be dead sooner rather than later for those tools that haven't hidden it behind a friendly editor already.

This can only be a good thing. If wikis are for everyone then make sure everyone can use them.

At 3:49 AM, Anonymous Brian said...

What is a Wiki? A Wiki is a type of CMS system. A Wiki is what its creators decided it would be.

If you want a WYSIWYG Wiki, then by all means go make one or buy one. Or use any other of a million other flavors of CMS and call it whatever you like to call it.

But maybe I wouldn't call it a Wiki. I'd call it the Teddy Bear Picnic.

Maybe "Wikis" are for the tech savvy people, and that is all there is too it. If you need to satisfy a broader audience, use a different tool.

So what the original article should have possibly been titled is, "I want a wiki-like tool with WYSIWYG and other features that I think would be better for a broader user base".

> It required a | | etc etc [to make a links]

So choose a different Wiki flavor.

> All the mark-ups are different from system to system

And the interface to all the many many variations of WYSIWYG authoring tools are also different.

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