Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Thoughts on Socialtext

As said in a previous post, I'm looking into wiki's to support knowledge management and just the general work within my organisation. One of the wiki's I'm looking into is Socialtext another one that I will write about later is Jotspot. Socialtext offers a nice free trial version online. So you can look at it yourself and always do, because I might have missed something, or your needs might be different.

The Good

- The best thing of Socialtext is its double click editing. It just can't get easier. You double click, the page turns yellow where you can edit it and it shows an editing toolbar, like you know from Word
- The toolbar is very straight forward and user friendly
- The way it deals with links is very easy to use. It has an icon for an (internal) link, an external link, link to an attachment and one to include an image however the image one is under bad.
- You can send e-mail to pages
- In the side bar, you get a good view af what you've done recently
- There are instant weblogs
- Links to non-existant pages have dotted line under them. This way you know there is nothing there yet and you can easily edit it yourself.
- It supports RSS. Now if only Internet Explorer would support it.
- you can organize your pages in Workspaces. So for each project a workspace.
- pricing is affordable and you can either get it as an appliance or through the net.
All in All it has all the main features and several more I would want in a proper enterprise wiki.

The Bad (or some improvements I would like to see
- There is a simple mode for editing and an advanced mode. Advanced Mode is HTML-like in syntax and therefore not straightforward. Some things can only be done in advance mode.
- the image and attachment function is only available in advance mode and because of its HTML-like syntax probably unusable for normal people. It should preferably open up a dialogue box, ask for the picture to be inserted, upload it and show it.
- E-mail to pages requires the name of the page to be in the subject field of the mail. Should be in the adress, before the @-sign. It now uses the name of the workspace before the @ sign, but not a securitycode like jotspot. If you give every page an e-mail adress, users will not have to think of writing the name of the page correctly in the subject field. Furthermore they can more easily cc a page as a central repository of mail.
- E-mail to pages shows up at the bottom of the page, without a possibility to collapse the mails, sort them into threads , so with potentially tens of e-mails, the page could get a long tail.
- it is not easy to see at first how to start a new workspace --> this is done in the Settings page
- it is unclear if you can close viewing of a page to a selected group of people. Sometimes this could be very handy. (Say you're organizing a party for the company and people are not allowed to know the secret progams)
- Every unique user should have a unique users page. On the one hand it should allow him/her to make an introduction, contact details, to link to pages they have edited, their weblog, projects they are on, tasks they have to do and links to the project pages. It should be the homebase for the user for much of its editing and also a place for others to find out what you're working on. (For an example, see wikipedia) This last gripe is one of my major ones, together with the next one.
- it could help structure projects etc with some pre-structured workspaces and pages. People should just be able to click buttons that say: Start new project. Start new workspace. start new informational page etc.

Definitely worth considering. Tough to make a choice between Socialtext and Jotspot. Though at the moment I would choose Jotspot because it has more features and I like some of them alot. More about Jotspot in a later post.

1 comment:

Richard Esmonde said...

Check out Confluence by Atlassian: