MediaWiki and Commercial Open Source Innovation

You may be surprised to hear that the dominant public Internet wiki engine, MediaWiki, only plays a minor role in the enterprise. Within the corporate firewalls, TWiki, Confluence, DokuWiki, TikiWiki, and others are running the show. Why is that? It is certainly not the lack of commercial customer interest in MediaWiki, which everyone already knows as the software running Wikipedia. It is also not an anti-commercial stance by the creators of MediaWiki (and its effective owner, the Wikimedia Foundation).

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WikiSym 2010 Program Announced!

The WikiSym 2010 program has been announced. Keynotes are by Cliff Lampe and Andrew Lih, and the program is full of research talks, workshops, posters, and demos. And, of course, there is a continuous track of open space available for everyone to discuss their wiki and open collaboration interests and issues. Check it out! And see you at WikiSym 2010, July 7-9, in Gdansk, Poland!

Call for Papers: Fourth Workshop on Wikis for Software Engineering

For your information, the fourth workshop on wikis for (in) software engineering. I’m on the program committee.


Fourth Workshop on “Wikis for Software Engineering”, May 16, 2009, at ICSE 2009, Vancouver, Canada, May 16-24, 2009

Submissions are due on January 26 (abstracts), February 2 (papers), 2009

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WikiSym 2009 Call for Papers (Submissions)

WikiSym 2009 Call for Papers

The International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration

October 25-27, 2009, in Orlando, Florida, USA

In-cooperation with ACM SIGPLAN and ACM SIGWEB, co-located with ACM OOPSLA 2009, peer-reviewed and archived in the ACM Digital Library


The International Symposium on Wikis (WikiSym) is the premier conference dedicated to wikis and related open collaboration systems and processes.

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End-User Programming with Application Wikis

Title: End-User Programming with Application Wikis: A Panel with Ludovic Dubost, Stewart Nickolas, and Peter Thoeny

Author: Dirk Riehle

Abstract: Wikis empower users to collaborate with each other using prose. Users imprint data structures and processes onto wiki pages using social and technical conventions. Application wikis enhance wiki engines with lightweight programming features that aid in making data structures and processes explicit. Using these features, end-users can program a wiki to better support them in their collaborative processes and integrate their work into the overall IT infrastructure. Application wikis make database access and business process integration easy from within the wiki while maintaining the wiki-style of collaborative work. The panelists of this panel, together with the audience and the moderator, will review existing work and explore future research directions in application wikis.

Reference: In Proceedings of the 2008 International Symposium on Wikis (WikiSym ’08). ACM Press, 2008: Article No. 4.

Available as a PDF file.

Interdisciplinary Research on Wiki Communities Workshop

For your information, a workshop on interdisciplinary research on wiki communities.


First Workshop on “Interdisciplinary Research on Wiki Communities”, on September 8, 2008, at WikiSym 2008, Porto, Portugal, September 8-10, 2008


The array of approaches to studying wikis is a source of wealth but also a possible source of confusion: What are appropriate methodologies for the analysis of wiki communities? Which are the most critical parameters (both quantitative and qualitative) for study in wiki evolution and outcomes? Is it possible to find effective interdisciplinary approaches to augment our overall understanding of these dynamic creative environments?

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A Grammar for Standardized Wiki Markup

Authors: Martin Junghans, Dirk Riehle, Rama Gurram, Matthias Kaiser, Mário Lopes, Umit Yalcinalp

Abstract: Today’s wiki engines are not interoperable. The rendering engine is tied to the processing tools which are tied to the wiki editors. This is an unfortunate consequence of the lack of rigorously specified standards. This paper discusses an EBNF-based grammar for Wiki Creole 1.0, a community standard for wiki markup, and demonstrates its benefits. Wiki Creole is being specified using prose, so our grammar revealed several categories of ambiguities, showing the value of a more formal approach to wiki markup specification. The formalization of Wiki Creole using a grammar shows performance problems that today’s regular-expression-based wiki parsers might face when scaling up. We present an implementation of a wiki markup parser and demonstrate our test cases for validating Wiki Creole parsers. We view the work presented in this paper as an important step towards decoupling wiki rendering engines from processing tools and from editing tools by means of a precise and complete wiki markup specification. This decoupling layer will then allow innovation on these different parts to proceed independently and as is expected at a faster pace than before.

Reference: In Proceedings of the 2008 International Symposium on Wikis (WikiSym ’08). ACM Press, 2008: Article No. 21.

Available as a PDF file.

Wikis for Software Engineering Workshop

For your information, a research workshop on wikis for (in) software engineering.


Third Workshop on “Wikis for Software Engineering”, September 8, 2008, at WikiSym 2008, Porto, Portugal, September 8-10, 2008


The use of wikis in software engineering dates back to 1995, when Ward Cunningham created the first ever wiki as a platform for discussing patterns and software development efforts. The simplicity and effectiveness of wikis as a medium for collaborative authoring has lead to their vast popularity across many domains.


This workshop aims to bring together researchers, practitioners, and enthusiasts interested in exploring the potential of wikis as an effective tool to support software engineering activities. Specifically, it is an opportunity to:

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Towards End-User Programming With Wikis

Abstract: When business software fails to provide the desired functionality, users typically turn to spreadsheets to perform simple but general computational tasks. However, spreadsheets enforce a view of the world that consists mostly of tables and numbers rather than the domain concepts users have in mind. We are using wikis as a platform for empowering end-users to perform computational tasks of their choice. This paper discusses how core properties of wikis can support end-user programming. We illustrate our approach using wiki prototype software for working with business objects as made available by SAP’s business application suite.

Reference: Craig Anslow, Dirk Riehle. In Proceedings of the Fourth Workshop in End-User Software Engineering (WEUSE IV). IEEE Press, 2008. Page 61-65.

Available as a PDF file.