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TWiki News Portal

Intranet homepage is the News Portal

At my daytime job we are currently rolling out a TWiki-based News Portal which replaces the static internal home page. It addresses these issues:

  • E-mail flood to the corporate-wide mailing list. Important messages get sometimes lost in the flood
  • Messages do not always reach its target. For example, engineers typically are not subscribed to the competitive news mailing list
  • The internal home is static, just used as a starting point to go somewhere else


  • The News Portal home takes a news paper approach. Above the fold (top of the page) are headline news, below the fold (page down) is the corporate directory
  • The News Portal has news channels, one for IT, HR, Engineering, Sales, etc
  • Each news channel has an editor group (which is a TWiki group), responsible for releasing news
  • There are two types of channels:
    • Anyone can post a story, but it needs to be released by an editor
    • Only editors can post and release a story.
  • Subscribe model for news channels
    • Employees can subscribe to news channels of interest
    • Some important news channels are "always on", e.g. employees cannot unsubscribe
    • Employees do not need to be registered in TWiki to subscribe to news channels
  • Pull and push model: Employees can subscribe to channels to see news on the internal home (pull) and/or to get daily aggregated news by e-mail (push)
  • The internal home shows aggregated news across all news channels of interest.

The system hides the complexity of TWiki, it has a form based interface.

When we introduced the system to the executives, the founder of the company was quiet excited and requested his own blog channel. This came as a surprise to us, a news channel can be misused as a blog!

If there is enough interest I will post the portal as a NewsPortalPlugin in the Plugins web (when I find time).

  • There are at least 13 ppl interessted. Do you have a concrete number of ppl in mind? -- AndreUlrich - 01 Nov 2004

Impact of TWiki News Portal:

  • Mail sent to the world wide alias was reduced from several a day to less than one a day
  • Employees are better informed on corporate news and IT news
  • Empowered employees - people at the front can tell what is cool and what the competition does

-- PeterThoeny - 21 Sep 2003

  • Other opinions:

Other opinions? Like what? :-)

This certainly is interesting. I am curious about:

  • It sounds like you created a workflow for the news articles, with roles and rules.
  • hides the complexity of TWiki - What is hidden and what exposed? Do you keep WikiNotation?
  • Can people also personalize their homepage, such as seeing the new items of the news channels they are subscribed to?

-- ArthurClemens - 21 Sep 2003

I added two screen shots (confidential content blurred, but you get the idea)

Some more details:

  • There is a workflow:
    • Each channel has an editor group (a regular TWiki group)
    • Editors can publish/unpublish and expire stories. This is based on read-only form fields (TWikiFormWithLabelType) which can only be changed by editors in the view restricted admin page of each channel. That page has a FormattedSearch that lists the stories; each row has links to publish, unpublish and expire stories, which goes into edit mode and changes the form fields of label type.
  • Hide complexity: Simple templates to fill out; user does not need to be aware of TWiki markup; TWiki forms are used but do not need to be changed directly.
  • Aggregated news could be exported and shown in user home pages, but we have not done that. The portal shows aggregated news of interest once logged in.

-- PeterThoeny - 12 Oct 2003

A NewsPortalPlugin would be a great TWikiApplication : As it will hide the complexity of TWiki and be promoted by CEOs, it would be very useful for TWikiAdvocacy too !

-- BenoitFauvel - 31 Jan 2004

Can you put a time to expire the storie?

We have a news box on the Nexos intranet web site (in TWiki) and it well be used on the internet too. I use the FormQueryPlugin to select the news newer then a date. The date is 1 month on the past and I did the DateTimePlugin (http://twiki.softwarelivre.org/bin/view/TWikibr/DateTimePlugin not puted on TWiki.org becose the documentation is not completily in english) to get it.

%FORMQUERY{name="buscaNoticiasRecentes" search="topic='^Noticia_[0-9_]+'
AND Data LATER_THAN '%DATETIME{format="$day $month $year" incmonths="-1"
incdays="-1"}%'" moan="off"}%

%TABLEFORMAT{name="formataNoticiasRecentes" header="<div class='noticias'>
<h2>Notícias Nexos</h2><ul>" format="<li>[[$topic][$Ttulo]]
<small>($Data)</small></li>" footer="</ul></div><!-- Fim noticias -->"
sort="-Data,topic" moan="off"}%

%SHOWQUERY{query="buscaNoticiasRecentes" format="formataNoticiasRecentes"
-- AurelioAHeckert - 03 Sep 2004

Can you upload it anyway? Thanks.

-- MartinCleaver - 04 Oct 2004

This may be the most significant TWiki Application so far

If you do a search on Google you will find many TWiki sites. Most of them make no pretence about hiding that they are running TWiki, even if they are just "information providers". Compared to many other sites they are plain ugly. Its as if some famous building like the Houses of Parliment in England were just "girders", no facings and dressing and decoration. (And yes, I kow about the Eiffel Tower. Its ugly.)

We've seen Arthur's input and how much more palatable that makes the "out of the box" TWiki. But lets face it, the "wiki nature" scares a lot of people off if you shove it in their face as the first thing they see. Add to that, we've grown used to well-decorated sites.

Peter's TWikiNewsPOrtal represents a step in the TWikiWhatWillYouBeWhenYouGrowUp. Its a shame we can't go out to many of the "Ugly-and-in-the-raw" sites and get them to upgrade, use some of the cleaner skins.

And adopt a "Portal" front end like this.

Please, Please, Please, Peter, bundle and release this.

-- AntonAylward - 02 Nov 2004

Same request from me too.

Any information-centric site normally provides three interfaces:

  • News: For regular visitors, want to be current and would like to interact.
  • Browsing/Navigation: For first-time and occassional visitors
  • Search: For random visits in search of right information.
Typical TWiki installations tend to be browse oriented, but that is only due to lack of good built-in mechanism for publishing changes and news.

I also feel that an explicit "announcement" mechanism would be of help. Here is the idea: Annoncements are special comments added to a topic with COMMENT plugin. They create a "News table" whose syntax we need to agree (for out-of-box bundling). The WebHome then uses FORMQUERY approach to aggregate the news.

-- VinodKulkarni - 03 Nov 2004

I've started deploying my twiki almost two months ago, and I find myself adding "!WebNews" pages to every single (five) community/project web to make it kind of more living and share "hot" information which matters with the communities. I'm using a %TOC{"WebNews"} on some other pages to publish/attract to that page. What I'm trying to say is that I'm also lacking a mechanism to publish news. If I want to get rid of email announces, I need to provide a simple way for anybody to "announce/broadcast" an event. It must as simple as shooting an email to the team. Compared to my page, I would like to see something more like the CommentPlugin for entering news, and have another plugin that would provide me with a TOC-like display, and a page with the ten (configurable) most recent news, and of course access to the archive of all news.

-- GillesEricDescamps - 04 Dec 2004

This would be so wonderful, but I need to solve the corporate email flood now so it might have to be another platform. There has been decreasing activity in this topic. Should I keep watching for good news or should I go sit in the corner and rust?

-- SueBlake - 31 Jan 2005

Another idea worth exploring is to integrate twiki with a content management system - which could take care of the news-based front-end.

Drupal (http://drupal.org/) is very good at this prime job of being able to publish news articles, complete with a publishing workflow. The articles are primarily blogs, and can be "pushed" to front page based on the roles. Rest of the "blocks" within the front end are managed explicitly as HTML submissions. Drupal has good UI for placement of various blocks and user-based personalization. Its "nodes" use numeric IDs but paths can be provided as topic names. (But it is not a true wiki - even though there is a wiki markup support for content creation. TWiki is much faster is creating content in collaborative manner. It also excels in good enterprise support in terms of ACLs and such.)

So what does integration mean?

  • TWiki is used to create content, news stories and so on. This is a collaborative process.
  • At the end, use a "Publish this content" button to get a special, almost-filled form.

The form comes from a special script which will pre-populate the content area with selected information from the twiki topic, and eventually call the drupal content creation script.

There are some other things, for e.g. creation of few accounts for publishing roles (easy). One tricky issue is, how do you integrate drupal's commenting system with that of twiki's. But if use-cases where a small community publishes to much larger community, it might help keep two commenting communities also independent.

For different sections of home page, drupal's HTML block sections might want to access content from within twiki topics - such as list of projects, recent changes etc. This could be done using special filter plugins in drupal, and can directly take the user to relevent twiki webs.

Drupal is indeed a very user-friendly system and the integration could be a good approach to get more users to use twiki system (especially in the enterprise.)

Time and resources permitting, we are exploring the implementation of this approach.

-- VinodKulkarni - 31 Jan 2005

Peter's original entry is over a year old. Is there any hope of having this packaged for TWiki? We would love to deploy this within our company.

-- PankajPant - 29 Apr 2005

-- RainerRohmfeld - 22 Jun 2005

-- AntonAylward - 22 Jun 2005

-- FranzJosefSilli - 22 Jun 2005

That would be 'ditto'. Plus our nonprofit computer group uses TWiki as a backend for the Board, and with this we could migrate the whole site over to an integrated TWiki with the News frontend.

-- StrataChalup - 22 Jun 2005

This is a very important example and its is key to the widespread use and aceptance of TWiki in a business setting. It makes TWiki look much more professional and acceptable.

-- AntonAylward - 22 Jun 2005

Peter, is there any news on the Portal development?

-- FernandoMoraes - 28 Sep 2005

I was not able to release this as a add-on to the public since there have been some legal questions at Wind River on releasing TWiki applications (unlike TWiki code and Plugins they do not fall under the GPL). I no longer work at Wind River (see SwitchingGears and TWikiSuccessStoryOfWindRiver). I will need to recreate this add-on unless Wind River is generous enough to donate this application.

-- PeterThoeny - 30 Sep 2005

I think it would be a fantastic twiki application.

-- GauravSharma - 17 May 2006

I would be interesetd in this application!

-- PriyaSeth - 05 Jun 2006

I will be interesetd in this application!

-- ConnieWang - 13 Oct 2006

Still no downloadable TWikiNewsAddOn frown

-- FranzJosefGigler - 13 Aug 2007

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Topic revision: r42 - 2007-10-01 - PeterThoeny
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