Knowledge workers and IT professionals will be among the groups that benefit most from the new features of Deki Wiki “Itasca” that was unveiled today, says MindTouch CEO and co-founder, Aaron Fulkerson.
Released today, Itasca is the latest version of Deki Wiki – the free open source wiki developed by San Diego, Caif.-based MindTouch Inc. for communities and enterprises to author, aggregate, organize, and share content.
With more than 250,000 installations, Deki Wiki is also used to create collaborative applications, or to add wiki capabilities to existing applications.
Fulkerson noted that information workers, in the course of their work, often have to switch between multiple systems – such as enterprise resource planning modules, content management systems, customer relationship management applications, Web sites and so on.
By contrast, he suggested, Deki Wiki Itasca offers a far better way for knowledge workers to harness all the capabilities of these applications at a central location.
They will be better be able to capture their processes on wiki pages, share them with one another, and improve upon them.
Fulkerson sees Itasca being productively used by various line of business groups – such as sales teams to create dashboards on clients, for instance, and product support teams – to share reports on clients, products, and bugs….in fact “throughout the enterprise.”
This tool exemplifies how IT is empowering business users, the MindTouch CEO said.
“In the past, it would cost tens of thousands, if not more, in customer development and consulting engagements to provide something less effective and less agile.”
Fulkerson said Deki Wiki is very popular in specific verticals, as it is easy to use even if one isn’t a programmer. This ease of use is even more pronounced in Itasca, he suggested.
He cited Itasca’s integration with popular bug tracking systems as a proof point.
In a business context, attitudes to social networking tools such as blogs and wikis in have been ambivalent.
While wikis are seen as great tools for collaboration, many companies are also acutely aware of the legal and other risks that these technologies can pose.
According to Fulkerton, in the last analysis, IT professionals are still MindTouch’s primary focus – and among the main beneficiaries of Deki Wiki.
Fulkerson says he wants to save IT employees from having to farm out integration or development to expensive contractors.
“I want to continue to get e-mails from IT guys that tell me they got pay raises as a result of using MindTouch Deki Wiki.”
Itasca’s new capabilities – such as the mashup code generator – were designed to empower enterprise IT professionals, he said.
A key feature of Deki Wiki Itasca is the new user interface, designed to support heightened collaboration.
MindTouch says development teams will be able to use the application to instantly combine components and applications from across the Web with hundreds of services from Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, and others.
Users will be able to “collaborate, share data across systems, and present information compellingly.”
Itasca’s new capabilities will also help project managers and developers “organize several systems in a way that is most efficient,” said Fulkerton.
Deki Wiki is already widely used by such groups during the software development cycle.
However, Itasca offers them new collaboration options through its integration with popular project management and bug tracking apps.
For instance, Itasca integrates with JIRA, the Web-based issue tracking, and project management application developed by Atlassian Pty Ltd., a software firm based in Sydney, Australia, as well as to other project management and bug tracking systems, including Trac, Mantis, and Subversion.
Integration with these systems provides developers with real-time reports of bugs and code check-ins, and a unified interface to all systems, says MindTouch.
Syntax highlighting is another new Itasca feature that developers will find particularly useful, the company says.
A feature of some text editors, syntax highlighting displays source code in different colours and fonts. This helps developers writing in a structured language – such as a programming or markup language – as both structures and syntax errors are visually distinct.
Deki Wiki offers syntax highlighting for 15 programming languages, including PHP, Ruby, and C#, for sample code and documentation.
Fulkerson says Itasca serves as a powerful development dashboard for testers, software engineers, and project managers. “It’s perfect for their needs, and we understand [those] needs being that we’re entirely a team of engineers.” (Fulkerson himself has a background in software engineering).
Other Deki Wiki Itasca improvements highlighted by MindTouch include:
- “Smart Linking” – that automatically suggests the most relevant pages and files for links
- Improved performance with “more than 100 bugs squashed”
- Better support for OpenLDAP, eDirectory, and ActiveDirectory
Also new in “Itasca” is the ability to deploy Deki Wiki directly on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), a Web service that enables compute capacity in the cloud. Users are able to create, launch and terminate server instances on demand – hence the term “elastic.”
Fulkerson this capability was introduced partly in response to the flood of user requests for dedicated hosting.
“We want to focus on building a great product instead of infrastructure stuff.”
He says users will enjoy the flexibility of deploying the Wiki using EC2 or Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) – an online storage service that provides unlimited storage through a simple Web services interface.