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Experiences with TWiki in ad agency Mac environment

I have set up and deployed TWiki as intranet in an advertising agency with 7 employees. Here are some of my observations which I hope will be of interest for anyone who is considering the same.

We are using 750 MB shared Linux/Apache hosting with SSL at Serversonic which is excellent
Users have Internet Explorer 5.1+ on Mac OS 9 and X.
TWiki used is the latest Beta, Beijing.
I administer the site with a W2K machine (only one in the office)

Initial applications

  • The Monday/Thursday morning meeting protocol
    is now edited by everyone. Initial issues of "everyone is responsible - no one is responsible" is difficult. Previously we mailed in changes/things to a coordinator who compiled the document, now everyone edits the document. The document overall is more up to date, but things that have been orphaned kind of stays in there as no one thinks it's 'their' text. Breking up the document in sections and making sure that there was an 'owner' for each section helped.
  • Projects
    have a project web startpage, as in ClientNameStart. Anyone can go to the Client's web and search for a start page.
  • Forms
    works very well and are very appreciated after I implemented some regex-searches to list topics that have different checkboxes enabled for status, i.e. "Client approved" or "In progress". The formatted search result with form fields is great for users sensitive to look-and-feel.

Usability issues

Here are some silly little things that really makes a difference...
  • Make sure Internet Explorer is set up to open Word, Excel and PDF documents when they are dowloaded.
    • Make changes in Edit/Preferences/File Helpers.
    • Find the MIME-type/extensions .doc, .pdf, .xls and choose Handling/How to handle/View with application
  • Make a folder "From intranet" on each desktop and tell explorer to save files there.
    • Every time the user click a document link Explorer downloads it without warning in the Download Manager. If the document lands on the desktop this is really frustrating since the user keeps work-in-progress there.
  • When selecting "Action" on an attached document and a new version is uploaded this document must have exactly the same name, or another instance of the document is created. This is very frustrating for copywriters and designers who are used to call their documents blabla_edit2.doc, blabla_edit3.doc, blabla_OK_magnus_edit.doc. Changing this behaviour seems almost impossible.
    • attach.pl could ask if a new instance should be created or if this is a revision, possibly in user-friendly language: "Are you attaching a new version of x.doc or is this an entirely new document?"
    • Don't know if this is RCS-related or built this way...
  • We took some help of a perl programmer to implement stylesheets - CSS, make some icons in the header/footer, implement a calendar http://www.perlcal.com/index.html and an SMS gateway, with no fancy coding, just IFRAME in the Topic.

Requests from users...

Remember this is a Mac-only environment....
  • When looking at a topic the user should be able to drag-and-drop a document on to the browser window and this should upload and attach the document to the topic. Makes sense in a way...
  • Mac's don't need file extensions, so users rarely use them. The attach.pl script could be extended with a "select file type" option group with Excel, Word, PPT, PDF, JPG, GIF, RTF options. That would cover all the document types in use. attach.pl could then make sure that the document had the right extension, or add the needed extension.
  • My own comment would be that there should be a better way of searching for checkbox/radiobutton status in topic-forms. This regex/META-stuff is extremely powerful, agree, but not pretty for a medium linux skilled intranet admin like myself... %FORMSEARCH... or something would be fun.

-- MagnusHelander - 20 Nov 2002

Thanks for posting this, always interesting to see how people are using TWiki. Would be good to see your SMS gateway if possible - was this for email notification? Would be helpful as part of EmailNotificationEnhancements work.

BTW the ImplementationDate is intended for features that have been coded, confusingly enough...

Re your user requests:

  • drag-and-drop of file attachments: not sure if any browser implements enough in its JavaScript model to let this happen - some in-page browser code would need to sense the 'file drop' event and then switch to the attachment upload page. The problem is finding such a 'file drop' event. Would be very nice in any desktop environment to be able to do this, so suggestions are welcome on how to do it!
  • file extensions: interesting extension, would probably not be that hard to do - best if some Mac users implement this and do a patch based on the PatchGuidelines, since it is quite Mac specific and hasn't come up before.
  • Easier searching for form values: would be useful - this has been discussed before, see Google:twiki+query+by+example.

Since TWiki needs quite a lot of work on UsabilityIdeas, input from MacOS users, who are used to highly usable software, is a very good thing smile

-- RichardDonkin - 21 Nov 2002

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Topic revision: r2 - 2002-11-21 - RichardDonkin
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