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A new home for Wikka

Yes, Wikka moved to a new home! I'd like to share with the Wikka user community some thoughts about the important changes Wikka is undergoing since a couple of weeks and open a collective discussion about Wikka's future plans. Feedback from contributors, users and friends from #wikka about the changes that we plan to implement is particularly welcome.

Why

There are several reasons why migrating Wikka to a new host with a number of dedicated services is an important step.
  1. Wikka was hosted at jsnx.com, i.e. JsnX's personal webserver: moving to a new server will not only free Jason from the burden of hosting Wikka on his personal resources, but will also allow a more distributed management and increase the project's visibility.
  2. The previous website had different uses, in an often confusing way. It was used as:
    • the official website for Wikka, presenting the package, its features, news and important announcements from the developer team:
    • a documentation server, using somewhat inconsistent naming conventions and often lacking a clear distinction between documentation and development pages;
    • a test server, for new users willing to get a taste of Wikka and understand how to use actions, handlers and wiki markup: often these tests are made not only in the SandBox, but also in pages that present official documentation, so a lot of time is spent in reverting innocent tests that vandalize the official part of the website.
    • an informal tracker for bugs and feature suggestions, listing in an often unmanageable way a lot of suggestions from users;
    • a development server, with (incomplete) developer documentation;
    • a plugin repository, where users and contributors share code, patches and add-ons, often producing a confusion between native features of the engine and plugins that are not (or not yet) implemented.
  3. Some basic services that have become the standard for mature open source projects with a large community of users or contributors - such as a code repository, an issue tracker, different mailing lists for different kinds of discussion etc. - are still lacking.

What has been done

For the above reasons, we have started implementing some important changes:
  1. A dedicated server with a new domain name (http://wikkawiki.org) has been setup on a new hoster (Site5).
  2. A code repository (SVN) and an issue tracker (Trac) have been opened at http://wush.net/trac/wikka (with an alias at http://tracker.wikkawiki.org).
  3. A test server -- (http://demo.wikkawiki.org) allowing users to play with a live demo of the latest official release. The database is automatically reset to system defaults every day. This will allow users to play not only with the SandBox, but with a whole Wikka distribution, including features that are only available to registered users.
  4. A Wikka developer blog (blog.wikkawiki.org), a comfortable place to keep track of important development news, especially for those among us who cannot keep an eye on the dev website on a daily basis (ahum, are there any??).
  5. The full API documentation (api.wikkawiki.org) for prospective developers and contributors.
  6. Several mailing lists to keep up-to-date with the latest news from the Wikka devs.
  7. The project documentation has been moved to a dedicated subdomain (docs.wikkawiki.org). This -- together with some consistent naming conventions -- will allow us to build a rich and well-structured documentation for the end user and translate it in different languages. Furthermore, it will allow external wikis to refer consistently to the documentation or even to "pull" content from the documentation server using some of the syndication tool that we have started developing (remember our FetchRemote action?). Only registered users will have write-access to this server, under the management of Documentation admins.

What's next

The old website has been already moved to the present domain, but we are planning to organize the new website in a more rational way.
  1. The main server (www.wikkawiki.org) will be completely refactored and used for official announcements of new releases and important news from the development team. This server will be read-only: only Wikka admins (and/or site admins) will have write-access.
  2. A support forum (forum.wikkawiki.org) for users needing help with Wikka installation, configuration and use.
  3. A development server (dev.wikkawiki.org) - hosting developer documentation (possibly self-generated through phpdoc headers), coding guidelines, and templates - will allow users to share ideas for new features and improvements. The actual code will be hosted in a dedicated branch of the SVN repository and candidate patches for official releases will be posted on the issue tracker. Interwiki links will allow referring in an easy way to code and tickets.
  4. A plugin repository: the development server will also be used to announce and discuss user-contributed add-ons. Plugins will be made available in a dedicated SVN repository (see the example of wp-plugins) , for easy tracking and downloading.
    • Users will be able to suggest patches to the official repository as tickets/attachments
    • SVN maintainers will take care of a selection and implementation of relevant modifications for the official package
    • Other modifications will be directly maintained by contributors in the Plugin SVN repository, where these add-ons can be developed, announced and released independently from the Wikka development team.
    • Particularly popular add-ons could be migrated to the official Wikka trunk as candidates for a release.
  5. A test server with the latest unstable package (fed by the SVN repository).
  6. All of the above servers should use a centralized user database, so admins, contributors, documenters etc. will only need a single login to access the different subdomains and services.

Feedback

That's it, your feedback is welcome. -- DarTar


CategoryDevelopment
Comments [Hide comments]
Comment by RyeBread
2005-12-09 16:41:43
Is there anything the average user should be doing right now to aid in the transition?
Comment by CyneBeald
2005-12-09 18:17:17
How will user contributed mods/patches/workarounds link with the official documentation? Will all user contributed changes have to be placed in SVN? Allthough the current system is very messy, it's also very easy to contribute something (esp. small patches, changin only a few lines of code) and to integrate it with the documentation so that people can find easily.
Comment by DarTar
2005-12-14 12:20:30
@RyeBread,

for the time being, just start using the tracker for new feature suggestions and bug reports would help.

@CyneBeald,

Patches and code contributions will still be welcome on the dev server (c.), the SVN repository will only provide an extra facility to store, track and release code in an easy downloadable format (for those contributors willing to use it). Downloading plugins from the code repository instead of browsing through complicated development pages will certainly be useful for end-users too.
Comment by ChrisH
2005-12-14 23:53:41
One thing that would be nice add while doing the migration - some sort of area where Wikka "programmers" could help not so knowledgable Wikka "users" with custom stuff. For example, I have a couple of ideas for custom actions that would be pretty specific to my use. While I would freely make them available to others, I think they are so specialized that even asking for them as a feature is a waste of the developers time. It would be nice to have an area set aside where users could link up with willing programmers for custom mods. Might even be a good area to "train" neew programmers who want to help with the development.

The only example I can think of right now to illustrate what I mean is the commercial software QuickBooks. They have an area on their website where customers can find developers to write custom modules for them.
Comment by DarTar
2005-12-15 13:26:19
ChrisH, the idea is interesting, although the easiest way to get online support from developers is the #wikka IRC channel. See http://wikka.jsnx.com/TheLounge for more information
Comment by ChrisH
2005-12-15 15:32:24
DarTar: I'll keep the IRC channel in mind, though I don't use IRC. That would get me some help if I get stuck doing a mod or something like that. However, my suggestion was for more of a "classified ads" section - where a user could look for a programmer to do a project, or a programmer could look for a project - once they two parties have "hooked up", they could continue the conversation elsewhere, either another Wikka page, or email, IM, etc.
Comment by p54A3592E.dip.t-dialin.net
2005-12-15 23:00:07
These are damn fine news. Finally.
Wikka has such a great potential, but unfortunately it's hard to get things done a.k.a up & running, based on the current spread of information/documentation and files.

At least, i expect a new release (please), after a whole year of patient waiting! Really.
Keep Up!
Comment by TonZijlstra
2005-12-17 12:59:06
Good news!

DarTar, if I can do anything to help (also with respect to contributing covering hosting costs), let me know.
Comment by MinusF
2005-12-27 13:04:00
would you consider also a forum.wikkawiki.org ?

i am not a long time wiki user/admin but frankly i find the process of leaving comments on the pages quite unpractical...

at the moment there is no interactive channel between the devs and the users
except the irc channel which is very ephemeral...

a forum is quite flexible, archived, and searchable. and it lets the users to share tips, experiences, troubleshoot, ask questions. it is not practical to create a wiki page for issues like this. a wiki is a wiki and a forum is a forum ;-)

e.g. forum.textpattern.com
Comment by ChrisH
2005-12-27 19:16:49
I would have to agree with MinusF in that the current method of getting feedback and help is, well, wierd. I've been able to get help for most of my issues/requests by leaving comments or modifying Wiki pages, but it is a little unsettling, not being able to tell where/how is the best method of communicating. I don't necessarily agree that it absolutely has to be a forum, but somewhere in the new site there should be something dedicted towards user help, paricularly an interactive and searchable help for new users.
Comment by MinusF
2005-12-28 14:07:32
ChrisH, i think these days, a forum is the best for such kind of interactive knowledgebase... or perhaps a mailing list with archives on the web. but the new generation hates mailing lists ;-)

i like punbb a lot, it's lightweight, extensible, popular, just like wakka wiki ;-)
Comment by DarTar
2005-12-28 17:45:20
agreed - the next step, though, is to implement threaded comments in Wikka :)
Comment by GmBowen
2005-12-28 23:25:36
I use punbb and it works pretty well. Altho', not to toot my own tools, WikkaForum will give a "structured" method of communicating & it can be formatted into topics etc in a manner that looks much like a regular forum but right in wikka (altho', admittedly, it's not currently searchable like regular forums)....altho' that could easily be added to each thread or to the wikka search itself.

I agree that "threaded" comments might be desirable, but it's not just that comments aren't threaded, it's that they're not searchable (unless something has changed recently), the one regression from wakkawiki {wink} .
Comment by DarTar
2005-12-29 10:35:41
Mike, just go ahead and open a ticket on the Wikka tracker for searchable, editable, threaded and markup-supporting comments :)
Comment by MinusF
2006-01-02 16:04:28
all right, i disagree at this point, but that's just me..
as i said before, i think comments are useless in a wiki,
and i would gladly see them go entirely ;-)

even this very thread about the comments would look much better,
organized, searchable in a dedicated forum. why reinvent the wheel
and do something with less features if there are other programs that
do it better? what's the next step? online chat?

i like wikka because it's small, fast, does well what it's supposed to do:
be a wiki. i like punbb for the same reason: small, fast, works well.
when i want a wiki i use a wiki, when i want a forum, i use a forum.

but that's just me ;-)
Comment by DarTar
2006-01-05 17:21:17
MinusF, I (partially) agree with your point.

You're right in suggesting that we should make the footer comment functionality 100% modular, so users who don't need it can easily drop it.

OTOH, adding threaded comments doesn't mean turning Wikka into a forum. Footer comments are there for those wiki admins who want to keep control on page content while allowing other (including anonymous) users to post comments.

It's true that a wiki is a wiki and should not be used as a replacement for a forum, but there is a common misunderstanding about what one can do with a wiki engine. In particular, people often assume that wikis are good only for unconstrained collaborative editing, i.e. anyone can edit anything.

It turns out that a considerable number of Wikka users (including me) installed Wikka as a backend for a personal or educational website with some restrictions, e.g. write-access:!*, read-access:* and comment-access:+

Even in the case of larger documentation projects (e.g., openformats.org), it's nice to have pages restricted to the website maintainers while allowing unregistered users to post comments.

Wikka ACL give our engine a lot of flexibility.
Why discontent many users and drop footer comments if they are considered useful?
Comment by MinusF
2006-01-05 22:28:37
good points, so let me rephrase my whining ;-)

the comment code -- as it is -- is more of an obstacle than a useful tool.
-can't edit what was written
-many comments are a mess - no orientation
-can't quote
and so on, and so on.

but i vote 100% for a modular (optional) more feature packed comment system.
if i only had the motivation to work on it ;-) i don't need comments in a wiki (yet)
Comment by DarTar
2006-01-05 22:39:37
> can't edit what was written
editable comments: a feature many users are asking

> many comments are a mess - no orientation
I'm afraid I don't get this

>can't quote
here's another nice feature suggestion... ;)

hey - it seems we agree both on the implementation (modular) and on the missing features, so what else are we waiting for? ;p
Comment by MinusF
2006-01-06 10:33:40
> > many comments are a mess - no orientation
> I'm afraid I don't get this

it's basically threading and/or blockquote.
if i want to react to the first comment on this page, i need to quote parts of it
and we do that here by using ">" ;-) basically a "quote" feature request ;-)

something like ""~&"" for comments would be maybe also nice..
Comment by DarTar
2006-01-06 11:07:05
http://wush.net/trac/wikka/ticket/101
Comment by JavaWoman
2006-01-24 05:29:19
Hey, we're here! That's great. Had to reboot and suddenly got a cookie prompt from the new domain ...

I also noticed that apparently there's no longer DNS lookup (the spam log is a dead give-away) - that should definitely speed up some things.
Comment by MinusF
2006-01-24 06:04:15
no word about a forum in the "what's next section" :(
i (and probably others) need a good channel to share our knowledge
and ask questions.

this should be the first thing to do imho so we can have a real
feedback system and a place where people can ask questions
and not clobber the particular action pages, for example...
Comment by DarTar
2006-01-24 07:19:42
MinusF - I like the idea of a support forum (which doesn't entail we are planning to drop footer comments in Wikka): just added your suggestion to the planned features.
Comment by MinusF
2006-02-13 04:25:31
how's the forum coming up?
Comment by DarTar
2006-02-13 06:24:05
We still have to figure out what is the best solution to control access to the forum and multiple wikis through a single user database. None of us at the moment seems to have much time to spend on hacking a wiki for forum integration (or viceversa), so this'll probably take longer than expected.
Comment by MinusF
2006-02-13 08:13:52
i don't understand why it should be complicated like this. i don't see why the wiki should be integrated with the forum (or vice versa) at all.

call me stupid but a forum is a forum and a wiki is a wiki. one more or one less cookie to hold my password to another forum/wiki makes no difference at all.
Comment by DarTar
2006-02-13 09:29:14
The only thing that should be integrated is the user DB. Without a unified user DB, users will need to register a second time to access the support forum. Also consider that at the moment Wikka doesn't support wikifarms so different wikis in different subdomains will also require different registrations.
Comment by OnegWR
2006-02-20 10:23:16
Is it OK that in the right-download-box on HomePage, the 3 links still point to the old site?
Comment by DarTar
2006-02-20 12:55:18
We still have to run a server-wide replacement, but I've fixed the links from the homepage, thanks!
Comment by MinusF
2006-03-27 09:05:03
would it be possible to create {svn,trac}.wikkawiki.org just with a mod_rewrite redirection to what's its name, wush.net? i always forget where the tracker is :)
it costs nothing and would make orientation easier, no?
Comment by DarTar
2006-03-27 18:11:08
Just added a plain redirection: http://tracker.wikkawiki.org/
Comment by DevNet
2006-07-19 10:04:06
Just wanted to say, welcome to site5! I also host there and have used them for the past 3 years. They rock!
Comment by UnDisclosed
2007-05-17 01:47:31
forum.wikkawiki.org IS NOT a support forum as indicated on this page.
It is an Image Blog! 'cmon, what's the point in misleading ppl?

ALSO; why do I need to obtain permission to obtain access to the /current/
documentation?! Further; why aren't ppl informed when they download the
software, that they will be pretty much on their own when it comes to
administration of their newly installed copy of the Wikki. As the documentation
regarding administration on these pages are SEVERELY lacking, and worse; it's
organized not unlike a plate of spaghetti. You're left with more questions than
answers. OH did I mention that the documentation that you must ask permission
to read is for a FUTURE version. Sheesh. The way this project is setup, it will
most surely fail.

Bummer.
Comment by DarTar
2007-05-17 04:58:46
Please hold on one second and breathe in. I'm afraid being aggressive is not the best way to obtain support. As for your questions:
- As you can see the docs and forum server are in the "What's next" section, which means we are working on it.
- If you are looking for up-to-date Wikka documentation for the latest version please refer to http://wikkawiki.org/WikkaDocumentation
- If you are not happy with the way the documentation is organized, please tell us how to improve it instead of giving some generic and pointless criticism.
Comment by UnDisclosed
2007-05-17 07:03:49
<DarTar>
Thank you very much for your response. And /please/ forgive my frustration(s).
You are quite correct.

Here's the scenario;
I'm currently hosting some 32 domains. Each of which has some 200 hosts.
I just picked up 2 more domains (names to be announced later) that I am setting
up to host source, source snippets, libraries, and projects of nearly any type
(open or similar source, of course). Anyway I'm also purchasing some 500
additional IP's to accommodate this en devour. I needed something to pose as
the opening page to announce this project. I have been evaluating CMS's,
Forums, and Wiki's and all manor of related projects. Over the past 45 days, I
have evaluated some 300 such items. I examined Wikka here at wikkawiki,
and read what I /believed/ to be an adequate amount of information. Thus
my impression was very good. It was by far the most attractive Wiki I had found
thus far - elegant in it's simplicity - which is important if your developing some-
thing else that must include the Wiki. As it makes it easier to "plug-in". In
any case. It appears to be a /very/ flexible system. However, this "flexibility"
(as I perceive it) lends itself to /utter/ /confusion/ - meaning; I /believed/
there was an Administration interface provided with it (something I couldn't
fully experience reading the information here, or on the demowiki) that would
better orient me with the entire product and allow me to better /present/ the
wiki as I had anticipated. Instead, I discovered that there were little to no
options provided in the spartan admin area. I was /sure/ that I was missing
something. So I immediately went to the documentation link in my newly installed
wiki, only to discover there was none. :( OK, I thought. I'll just go to Wikka and
download the documentation set from wikkawiki and look it over throughly, and
if I still find I have more questions, I'll go back to wikkawiki and see if I can find
an answer. But upon my arrival here, I discovered there, in fact, was /no/
documentation - not in the most common sense anyway. So, that ultimately
/heightened/ my anxiety - something to think about maybe. Anyway, to the point;
I had envisioned making wikkawiki the opening page to the new project. It /seemed/
like it would be fast and simple to layup and allow me to effectively describe the
project, and allow visitors to respond with their perceptions and hopes and
also provide suggestions. It also /seemed/ to me that I would easily be able to
"blend" it in with the overall theme (visually, and conceptually) of the project. But
as I /perceive/ it now (wikkawiki), it appears that to accomplish a great deal of
flexibility with it, requires opening the files themselves and altering them to make
changes. This /was/ /not/ the impression I received reading the "Features"
sections here. I guess I simply expected a little more in the sense of a "control
panel" with this. And quite a bit more, where administration is concerned. I
/love/ the way it looks, and the support here is /tops/! But I guess I'm still
struggling with the idea of using this or not.

I hope this provides a little more perspective. And I /greatly/ appreciate all
your time and consideration.
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