Re: How do you maintain dynamic material

Subject: Re: How do you maintain dynamic material
From: Lou Quillio <public -at- quillio -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2005 09:33:29 -0400


Guy K. Haas wrote:

If any restrictions are to be applied to authorship, will a wiki work?
The premise of a wiki (including twiki) is that, if you can access it, you can change it.

Put another way, not all web-based, collaborative, content management tools are wikis: most are not. That *anyone* may edit the content is what makes a wiki a wiki. 'wiki', the buzzword, is running a bit amok.

I don't mean to say that if it's not exposed to the universe, it's not a wiki. Private groups can operate a wiki. Rather, the idea is that once you're in, there's no user hierarchy. Anyone may post, anyone may edit. Anything. Live. Nobody's *the* editor because everyone's an editor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki

Similarly, 'weblog' is a term under strain. Many of the well-known content management systems for the Web began as blogging tools, but now can do much more than maintain a time-stamped, chronological website.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

I've done alpha and beta testing for pMachine, Expression Engine and TextPattern, and have hacked them (and WordPress) to bits. My current fascination is with Drupal. Yes, you might use about 20% of Drupal's functionality to operate a blog, but you could also use it to replicate NYTimes.com. And I mean *all* of NYTimes.com: elaborate content taxonomy, archiving, access control, editorial workflow, forums, email to a friend, email alerts, for-fee content access ... you name it. There's even a wiki module. And anyone's free to learn the API and create custom modules.

http://drupal.org/project/releases

(Drupal, WordPress, and TextPattern are FOSS; pMachine has a free version. Of these [which are php/MySQL/Apache-based], Drupal is best suited to more elaborate sites. Another good choice is Plone, though you'll need to be running the python-based Zope Application Server.)

Drupal's what I'm using for the STC-TechValley.org site. I've been asked a few times "Can we add X?" and my answer's basically Yes, whatever the request. If it's not an included feature (probably is) there's either a module for it, or I can hack one, or re-purpose existing functionality to the requested feature. Imagination is the only limit on what it can do, yet I can still hand it over confidently to the next webmaster.

Last thing: quality of markup. XHTML validity and well-formedness can break in two areas: the templates ('themes') and the user-provided content. I make sure the templated output is well-formed, and (for STC-TechValley.org) accept user input in John Gruber's 'Markdown' pseudomarkup -- which doesn't know how to be malformed. Now that each page is well-formed XHTML (hence XML) it can be parsed and refactored forever. Since all content is a database record, though, refactoring isn't a problem anyhow.

Don't mean to shill for Drupal (it's non-commercial, Lisa), just saying I have personal knowledge that what Denise wants to do is eminently achievable -- and comparatively easy -- using freely-available tools and frameworks. No per-seat costs, no desktop applications. The browser is the GUI. You could have such a system up in two weeks.

LQ

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References:
Re: How do you maintain dynamic material: From: Nandini G
Re: How do you maintain dynamic material: From: Guy K. Haas

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