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CoffeeBreakArchives 2002


Happy New Year! This is to highlight the forthcoming email restrictions on SourceForge, which would require changes to WebNotify - see last posting on TWikiOnSourceForge.

-- RichardDonkin - 02 Jan 2002

A couple of interesting links:

-- RichardDonkin - 24 Jan 2002

That reminds me -- the LDP just created (and made available) a wiki to allow people to comment on LDP documents (and HOWTOs). It also lets authors write documents using the wiki as the markup is (can be) converted to DocBook. See WikiText. (Looks like competition for WikiLearn (but maybe a slightly different focus).)

-- RandyKramer - 25 Jan 2002

The Tool of the Month story isnice. It is also listed in Linux Today, http://linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2002-01-24-022-20-RV-SV-SW

I just posted a talk back from the TWiki team, see http://linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2002-01-24-022-20-RV-SV-SW-0001

-- PeterThoeny - 25 Jan 2002

The Unixreview article is also linked from Linux Weekly News at http://lwn.net/2002/0131/press.php3.

New Scientist has a good article about OpenSource, covering how it is being used for much more than software (e.g. OpenCola soft drinks, music, law, encyclopaedias, etc.) - it includes a very brief mention of the original WikiWikiWeb (Wiki:FrontPage) and Wikipedia ( http://www.wikipedia.com, the fastest growing online encyclopaedia, I believe.) The article ignores the free software / open source arguments and focuses on what can and can't be done with the OpenSource methodology.

-- RichardDonkin - 05 Feb 2002

TWiki.org shows now an experimental bread crumb ("where am I" trail) instead of the TWiki.Web.Topic links. See HowToShowParentTopics.

-- PeterThoeny - 12 Feb 2002

Just announced in DevelopersNews: RichardDonkin joined the TWiki CoreTeam. Richard, welcome to the club! You are a good fit for the team, with your enthusiasm we can bring TWiki to the next level.

-- PeterThoeny - 08 Mar 2002

A lot of action started recently with documentation at TWiki web, and you might be missing it: see TWikiDocsStyleGuide and TWikiGlossary. Plan is, to decide which of SimplerDefaultTemplates we want to make standard default template in SimplerTWikiDistribution, and make some pages of docs specially for newbies, so BeijingRelease will be simpler to istall and use right out of the box. Join in, we need your opinion about style of documentation!

-- PeterMasiar - 08 Mar 2002

Nice succinct survey of some of the current Wiki software available at http://broadpool.com/~glen/index.php/AboutWikiEngines . TWiki doesn't fare so well - pretty much because of installation and separation of code from content difficulties. When the activities to remedy these shortcomings have reached maturity (go team!) somebody might want to drop a note there to say so.

-- MattWilkie - 09 Apr 2002

Interesting... Clearly installation problems are a big barrier for some people, but then we already knew that smile

His comments about having to provide personal info are also worth noting - I think TWiki would get more uptake if it was optional to leave this info. There are very few GPLed packages that require this. I realise that we want to gather information about who is downloading it, but if we just recommend to people that they fill this in, we will still get quite a lot of information about who's using it.

Also, I thought anyone could comment in the Support web as TWikiGuest? If so, maybe we should send him a correction.

-- RichardDonkin - 09 Apr 2002

Anybody can post as TWikiGuest, but it was not obvious. Too much documentation to read! smile I put username and password explicitly on the AskedQuestions page at Support web. I know, result will be more anonymous postings... frown

My favorite site about web usability http://www.useit.com has (fresh) article about registration: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20020317.html . Somebody with enough rights may want to update TWikiRegistration page accordingly... BTW, registration says that guest can enter as TWikiGuest. TWiki novice might try to enter Main. part as username. Maybe something more straightforward, like

You also can post anonymously as TWikiGuest, password is guest (case sensitive!).

-- PeterMasiar - 09 Apr 2002

Thanks for posting the login info in the support web, people see now how to register or post anonymously without reading the docs.

We get sometimes voices that TWiki is too restrictive, like the need to register to post, or the need to give ones e-mail address to get the software. All this is true, and yes, this is not typical for GPLed software. Voices like these are mainly from web communities. Keep in mind though that TWiki is targeting the corporate intranet world, this environment is used to register to get some service or software.

TWiki.org has a nice community with a personal touch. I attribute this precisely to the fact that "anonymous cowards" (/. speak) are tolerated but not favored. Real names are personal; screen names just create an artificial environment, I prefer to shake hands with people of whom I know at least their name.

-- PeterThoeny - 11 Apr 2002

I don't think you can entirely separate the OpenSource/GPL community and the corporate intranet world - many of the former are influential in the latter, which is why Linux is taking an increasingly large share of the corporate market.

Many people, including those in corporations, are put off by anything that involves registration - something like 2/3 of people are likely to drop out whenever a registration form appears. If we can make this optional, we can also have downloads registered in 'most popular' charts such as those at SourceForge, and make use of their download servers. Enough people would still fill this in to get some information about who is downloading TWiki.

I agree about registering to post messages in Support - if people use the Guest login, they should be encouraged to leave their real name in the text.

-- RichardDonkin - 11 Apr 2002

What if we have non-anonymous download on TWiki.org as it is, and right there link to anonymous download on SourceForge? People can register or not as they wish. And yes, I like PeterThoeny's explanation about shaking hands with real people smile , IMHO we should post it at TWikiRegistration page as a reason why (Peter) asks for registering.

-- PeterMasiar - 12 Apr 2002

Jakob Nielsen from http://www.UseIt.com proposes to test usability of web sites, see NielsenNormanGroupUsabilityTesting. Maybe we should switch Twiki.org site to KoalaSkin and ask for testing? We may learn something. Other option might be to create default instalation and ask them to test it. Nothing to loose, IMHO.

-- PeterMasiar - 15 Apr 2002

The WaybackMachine is an interesting idea. Try it out on TWiki.org at http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://twiki.org/ and travel back in time! For example, in Aug 2000 web had just 49 brainstorming ideas, now there are 269.

-- PeterThoeny - 18 Apr 2002

For JunkBuster and some other proxy users - the use of 'http://' in the body of the URL may cause problems, so try turning off your proxy for web.archive.org.

-- RichardDonkin - 18 Apr 2002

This Slashdot discussion has some interesting comments on how people react when asked to register before downloading software. Posted by a commercial software developer who wanted to know why so many people register but then don't come back to download the software - email delays and inbox overload are quite a big factor.

-- RichardDonkin - 20 Apr 2002

I just found article about collaboration tools for corporate intranets (to help your users share their knowledge and ideas with one another in a structured way via a Web-based interface), at Network Computing, Also tool evaluation, with pricing. It might be too late (article is from Feb 18), but still might be worth to respond to editor about TWiki? If nobody more experienced than me volunteers, I plan to write a response anyway, unless told here not to do so. Any takers?

-- PeterMasiar - 24 Apr 2002

Sounds good, please go ahead. You could use some material from TWikiPresentations and TWikiAnnouncements if you think it helps.

-- PeterThoeny - 25 Apr 2002

Havoc Pennington of GNOME fame has a thought provoking article on usability at http://www106.pair.com/rhp/free-software-ui.html that is worth a read and ponder.

In this vein, I humbly suggest that CoffeeBreak be reversed, with new entries posted to the top instead of the bottom of the page. This way one doesn't have to wait for all 120k+ to load before seeing the latest comment. (We don't always arrive here via diff)

-- MattWilkie - 07 May 2002

There is excellent TWikiCourseOutlineExample2 by RichardDonkin about how to make first presentation. It was in Main, and nobody noticed, myself inclued! All because hardly anybody subscribes into cursed Main web, with all the user registrations pouring in! We really need to RenameMainWebToHome and put users to User web!

-- PeterMasiar - 07 May 2002

Thanks smile It was linked from HowToGetInternalBuyInForTWiki but probably needs to be a bit easier to find.

Re Matt's comment, how about just archiving the old comments here? This has worked OK for other long-running topics, e.g. BackFromPreviewLosesText.

-- RichardDonkin - 07 May 2002

There's a new skin for your perusal at SeeSkin. It is currently designed for CSS level 2 browsers (e.g. Mozilla, Opera and IE v5.5+) but any browser can be used - it might look a little funny though. Feedback is welcome, positive or otherwise.

-- MattWilkie - 30 May 2002

Just did some quick WebStatistics summaries for Codev which I find very interesing:

  • there have been 895,822 topic views since August 1999
  • and 14,394 topic saves (edits)
  • with 646 attachments

The first 6 months of this year, 2002, accounts for

  • 443,231 views or 49% of the total 36 months
  • 5,218 edits or 36% of the total 36 months

  • In June-2002 there were 67,175 views, 540 saves, 35 attaches
  • in June-2001 there were 37,172 views, 863 saves, 13 attaches
  • in June-2000 there were 2,847 views, 127 saves, 3 attaches

I'd say TWiki has a respectable growth rate smile

Are there any numbers for how many downloads there have been? Or number of installations? Number of durable installations? What about the percentage of lurkers vs contributors? etc. etc.

-- MattWilkie - 12 Jul 2002

To give an idea, as of July 2002 we have 15,700 downloads, 8,100 pages and 3,300 registered users at TWiki.org. I do not know how many active "behind firewall" TWiki sites exist, but there are several hundred public TWiki websites. Try an Internet search for a phrase found in the TextFormattingRules, like for example "Optional spaces followed by the cells enclosed in vertical bars": As of today, a Google search returns 179 hits, an AllTheWeb search 765 hits.

-- PeterThoeny - 13 Jul 2002

Ahh, statistics and search engines! I want to see TWiki succeed, but search engine results can be very misleading.

I looked at the Google results a little closer. When I called up the search I got 180 hits (a fast rate of growth since the 179 earlier today wink ), but those do not represent 180 twiki sites.

My guess (and I should have counted more carefully) is that the results represent somewhere between 30 and 60 sites, my guess closer to 40 -- the rest are duplicates. Just for some examples:

  • ibiblio (like www.ibiblio.org/kevinamm-bin/view/TWiki/ TextFormattingRules?rev=r1.27) appears about 30 times, most of them representing different rev numbers of the TextFormattingRules page
  • I found (IICC) 9 instances of twiki.org (5 within the first 100 hits, 4 more within the second 100 (80) hits) -- I didn't search for twiki.sourceforge.net (or twiki.sf.net), one of which, at least, is (was?) indexed by Google.
  • Most sites included 3 to 5 hits, very few had only a single hit

I am not as familiar with alltheweb, in fact, trying the search today was the first time I tried it, so I have more trouble understanding its results. Note the following though:

  • I guess the 765 hits was an initial estimate -- when I paged through the results (at 100 hits per page) the display stopped at 438 hits.
  • Even though they say they report only one hit per domain, I found 7 hits in the first 100 hits on http://twiki.sourceforge.net (and interestingly, none anywhere on http://twiki.org).
  • I did not find any hits on ibiblio???

If someone is more familiar with alltheweb, I would be interested in their estimate of how many distinct sites the 438 hits represent.

-- RandyKramer - 13 Jul 2002

It's a known fact that search engines cannot keep up with the web site growth, they typically index just a fraction of what is out there. Alltheweb is a search engine that indexes more then Google and others. So, it is a difficult task to estimate the number of existing public TWiki sites. I know of at least 100 confirmed ones.

-- PeterThoeny - 13 Jul 2002

Well, I would find it interesting to determine the takeup rate of TWiki.

I.e. For every person that downloads it, how many try to install it, are successful in installing it (and why they failed), who their target audience was, whether their audience accepted it, and then whether it was still going 3 months, 6 months and 12 months later.

Perhaps we can bundle a script that runs as part of 'make test'. It purpose would be to report back a successful install. How to go beyond that I don't know, perhaps a 'make remove' that would do the clean-up and report back that this was done?

Of course, the administrator of those sites should be given assurances that this is the only monitoring that we do and also get the option to not report if they don't want to.

-- MartinCleaver - 14 Jul 2002

What about simply creating a TWikiUsageSurvey on this site?

-- LynnwoodBrown - 15 Jul 2002

OK, lets decide on the code name for the upcoming releases after BeijingRelease: (Pick your favorite and increase the vote by 1; release the lock when saving)

NOTE: Vote has closed
  • Which one for the "C" release?
    City Vote Note
    Australia's Canberra: 0  
    Egypt's Cairo: 8 Historical city
    Sri Lanka's Colombo: 0  
    Venezuela's Caracas: 3  

  • Which one for the "D" release?
    City Vote Note
    Ireland's Dublin: 5  
    Senegal's Dakar: 6 Paris - Dakar race
    Syria's Damascus: 0  

This vote is moved from the BeijingRelease topic (check the diffs there to confirm the accuracy of the votes wink )

-- PeterThoeny - 02 Aug 2002

Voted for Caracas rather than Cairo, but only because Cairo was the Microsoft codename for a Windows followon release that never shipped smile

-- RichardDonkin - 03 Aug 2002

I have to say, I voted the way I did just to help to get to consensus.

When does the vote close?

-- MartinCleaver - 04 Aug 2002 voting from Taman Negara, Malaysia.

Okay then, how about closing the vote at midnight GMT 9th August?

Hmm. Releasing infrequently or not at all would be very un- OpenSource -esque.

I don't want to sound unfairly critical, but I think we could and should do so much better at getting stable betas out to our users. One way (dependent on CVS) would be to supply a script to update an install to the latest release or beta version by picking up changes according to the release branch or beta branch from CVS.

Else I fear that CairoRelease will go the same way as the Microsoft's monster.

-- MartinCleaver - 08 Aug 2002

OK, done. The TWikiReleases after BeijingRelease are called CairoRelease and DakarRelease.

I try to keep TWiki.org current to the latest TWikiAlphaRelease in stable times like now, else TWikiBetaRelease.

-- PeterThoeny - 10 Aug 2002

Well, now that's finished perhaps we can talk webforms for a moment? In various topics I've seen requests/wishes for things like automatic ID generating (e.g. for troubletickets), or the ability to pick a persons name from a list. As far as I know these things are not yet implemented in a generic way (if at all?)

  • Automatic ID: Use SERVERDATE in a hidden field defining the topic name, e.g. write IssueID%SERVERDATE{"$year$mo$hour$min$sec"}% to get IssueID%SERVERDATE{"$year$mo$hour$min$sec"}%. Alternatively, use a SEARCH to search for the highest ticket number, then use CALC to calculate the next number as described in CreatingNewTopicEverytimeTheTopicIsEdited. -- PeterThoeny - 13 Aug 2002
  • Pick a persons name from a list: Simply create a form field of type select and list the persons like Main.JeroenVanDongen, Main.PeterThoeny. Variables are not yet evaluated, but once done you can also use a FormattedSearch to build the pick list. -- PeterThoeny - 13 Aug 2002

What about making normal TWiki variables/tags work in the default values field (they do now in the definition, but they don't get expanded into the actual form AFAIK)? It looks to me that that would solve all things mentioned. Automatic ID generation can be done by a normal plugin that generates IDs for every %NEXTID% (or something along those lines), a list of names to pick from can be generated by a METASEARCH, etc.

I have browsed Codev for a while but could'nt find anything in this direction, though I haven't yet looked at the code to make a estimated as for the difficulty of doing this. It's just an idea.

-- JeroenVanDongen - 11 Aug 2002

Not to change the subject - but has anyone noticed Server Errors coming up on TWiki.org? Have seen 2 or 3 just today, anyone else? (coffee on the brew)

-- DrewCard - 12 Aug 2002

On a note completely different I have observed that in lib/TWiki/Attach.pm uses spits out hight not height when building the attachment table... bug or support?

-- DrewCard - 13 Aug 2002

Server Errors: This is a chronic illness of the SF web service. We will host TWiki on a different server once day.

Bug or Support: Anything that needs to be fixed in the TWiki core is considered a bug. Installation questions and issues are handled in the Support web.

-- PeterThoeny - 13 Aug 2002

The reason I ask about the server errors is that 1) I hadn't seen many here before yesterday and 2) I am seeing Server Errors myself - almost at random since I went to the beta. Has anyone seen the error log, to see the actual error message?

-- DrewCard - 13 Aug 2002

SF does not make the error logs available to users. They happen at random, more when there is a bigger load on the server. I filed yet another support request on this, https://sourceforge.net/tracker/?func=detail&atid=200001&aid=599748&group_id=1

-- PeterThoeny - 25 Aug 2002

Open Magazine wrote nice article about TWiki. The Open Magazine is a subscribers only magazine targeting enterprises who are interested in Open Source products and services.

We should try to get more articles and publicity like this. It fits very nicely the TWikiMission.

-- PeterThoeny - 25 Aug 2002

SF apparently fixed the intermittent internal server error on cgi scripts. Let us know here in case you still get those errors.

-- PeterThoeny - 31 Aug 2002

Just for fun... How many TWikis are there?

First, how many TWikis are publicly accessible on the Internet?

A: At least 70, possibly more.

See this Google search for a phrase in TextFormattingRules. It is a modified version of the search that Peter did above, to exclude duplicates from sites that allow spiders to access URLs ending in ?rev or ?skin, and ensuring page name is TextFormattingRules. I know that there a few dupes in there, but I scanned the results to make sure the page names are OK, so I think the dupes are less than five hits. Since Google doesn't index anywhere near the whole Web, this is almost certainly an underestimate.

Of course, TWikiClones already lists some TWiki installations that are on the Internet, but this gives another data point, from which I can guesstimate how many intranet TWikis there are:

# How many TWikis registered (installations and clones)?  (May double-count clone installations)
$ grep '<li>' /c/temp/TWikiClones.html | wc -l
    290

# How many mentioning Internet or public?
$ egrep -i 'public|internet' /c/temp/TWikiClones.html | wc -l
     20

# How many mentioning firewall/internal/internet?
$ egrep -i 'firewall|internal|intranet' /c/temp/TWikiClones.html | wc -l
    154

Having read this page a bit more, it seems that most of the entries that are for public/Internet sites don't use those words, whereas the intranet ones tend to say so. So the grep results above probably greatly underestimate the use of TWikis on the Internet. However, if you believe these figures, for every one Internet TWiki there are about 154 / 20 = 7 (approx) intranet TWikis. This makes sense given the intranet focus of TWiki and seems roughly right given the requests coming into the Support web.

So... Taking a deep breath as we extrapolate from Google, there should be around 7 * 70 = 490 (approx) intranet TWikis world-wide. This would mean over 560 TWikis of both types. Of these, 300 are registered on TWikiClones, i.e. about 50% of the total, which seems like quite a high registration rate. Given that Google doesn't index the whole web and this high registration rate, it's like there are quite a lot more than 560 TWikis of both types.

Alltheweb seems to confirm these results - a slightly more sophisticated search (excluding ?raw URLs) gave 57 results (when you click on last couple of pages), which is not too far from Google's 70. Clearly alltheweb may not mean all the web...

This doesn't take into account liveness of the TWiki site, etc, and is probably out by some factor, but it's an interesting statistic smile

-- RichardDonkin - 06 Oct 2002

A very interesting analysis.

-- JohnTalintyre - 06 Oct 2002

I suspect that in fact the split between intranet and Internet TWikis is much more like 50/50 or perhaps 60/40 - the TWikiClones page seems to have lots of entries for public/Internet TWikis that don't use those keywords, whereas almost all the intranet ones seem to use the appropriate keywords. This is assuming that those who do intranet TWikis are as likely to register on that page as those who do Internet TWikis.

-- RichardDonkin - 07 Oct 2002

The stats from the download form tell this: 6933 persons checkmarked the "Use Behind Firewall" flag, 2334 checked "Use On Public Server", that is, the split between Intranet and Internet TWikis looks more like 75/25.

We will get a better overview of TWiki usage over time with the revamped TWikiInstallation directory in the Main web. Please take this chance to add your installation(s), even if it is already listed in the older TWikiClones page!

-- PeterThoeny - 12 Oct 2002

Interesting table at TWikiInstallation. I think the term 'firewall' in the table is confusing as it implies TWiki can be used as (or on) a firewall - better to just say 'intranet'. Also, it would be good to clarify 'private' - do you mean 'on the Internet but access restricted'? Perhaps something like 'Internet - private' and 'Internet - public' would be better.

-- RichardDonkin - 14 Oct 2002

Good points. 'Intranet' is a more accurate term then Firewall, but 'Intranet' and 'Internet' can be confusing because they are so closed phonetically. I changed 'Firewall' to "Firewalled' to make it more explicit. 'Internet - private' and 'Internet - public' would be better, but eats too much screen real estate - there are already enough columns. I added some more description to TypeOfUse.

-- PeterThoeny - 15 Oct 2002

Mitch Kapor, co-founder of the former Lotus Development Corp, after lunch with Linus had new idea - nonprofit to finance OpenSource!. He founded Open Source Applications Foundation (http://www.osafoundation.org/). They are considering twiki and other wikis here. I believe that twiki is the best choice, of course. wink Should "we" be more proactive and try to help them i.e with customization?

-- PeterMasiar - 06 Nov 2002

They Chose TWiki!

I happened to surf over to the OSAF wiki, and looked at the URLs, and realized it's DEFINITELY TWIKI!

Pretty cool skin they put on it too.

-- StewStryker - 14 Jul 2003

Re the TWikiInstallations page - at least a few people have used Private to describe intranet installations (also classified as Corporate). Having looked at TypeOfUse, it seems that Personal would be a better term for Private - intranets are by most definitions private, but not personal, whereas a home-use only TWiki is personal. I suspect this page doesn't get read by most people - definitions of terms in the TWikiInstallations form section would be helpful.

-- RichardDonkin - 21 Nov 2002

Web hosting troubles again. User registration fails with an internal server error message half way through the registration in about one of every 6 attempts. This happened after SF moved their hardware a week ago. The user gets an e-mail confirmation, but user home page, TWikiUsers entry, log entry and thank you message are missing. I filed a support request with SourceForge, https://sourceforge.net/tracker/index.php?func=detail&aid=641696&group_id=1&atid=200001

Also, I got reports that users get greeted with another user name when visiting WelcomeGuest. It turns out that our web hosting provider supplies the same client IP address 216.136.171.252 over and over again for different users. This is probably caused by their loadbalancing setup. For now I disabled the $doRememberRemoteUser flag, e.g. all users are TWikiGuests when viewing a topic.

-- PeterThoeny - 25 Nov 2002

The December print issue of the Linux Magazine has a nice article about TWiki. Jeremy Zawodny writes "this month and next, we'll spend some time looking at Wiki technology and focus specifically on TWiki". It would be good if Jeremy gets feedback on his article from the TWiki community, he can be reached at Jeremy@ZawodnyPLEASENOSPAM.com.

-- PeterThoeny - 01 Dec 2002

Is it available online anywhere? I subscribe to Linux Journal, but no longer to Linux Magazine (in fact, I thought they went out of business -- I must be confused -- but I won't find it at any local libary -- ahh, I know, I'll try Borders (or Barnes and Noble)).

-- RandyKramer - 02 Dec 2002

AFAIK, Linux Magazine at http://www.linuxmagazine.com/ does not post current issues. Don't confuse it with http://www.linux-magazine.com/

-- PeterThoeny - 01 Dec 2002

Merry Christmas everybody!
baby-tree.jpg

-- MattWilkie - 25 Dec 2002

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