« Wikis as the corporate third place | Main | Wiki banned for 5 weeks? »


Ludovic Dubost

Hi Mike ! Happy new year ! It was nice to meet you at JavaPolis in December !

Interesting to see the US venture capital back companies fight for "visible" supremacy, when in reality the leader of open-source Wikis is probably TWiki and or professional Wikis is probably your fine Wiki !

Now to your subject: "openness"

I don't so much agree that "Open Source is very bad at applications in general". You might say that currently Open-source hasn't really delivered in this area, but from my point of view it is not because of open-source, but because open-source business are not yet there, and most open-source applications don't have businesses to back them. This will happen, and I don't think there will be much difference in terms of application quality once the businesses are in place.

Concerning the importance of data vs the code. Lock-in is both about data and code. Easier data compatibility reduces the switch cost, but unless the application is 100% commoditized switching has always a high cost. I'm surprised you haven't talked about the Wiki Syntax as a data issue. It is very nice to have all these APIs you are talking about the retrieve the data, but with no Wiki Syntax Standard, there is an openness issue. One of the reasons I decided to use Radeox as the wiki syntax engine, was to be more "open" as there was SnipSnap and Confluence using the same engine. But even with that, given the ease to change the syntax rules in the radeox engine (Confluence has many of these, as I could see) and the amount of "proprietary" macros in all the engines, currently I don't think switching content from one wiki to another is that easy. We'll see when I get one of your french customers :)

In any case, for me the two big reasons for choosing open-source were:

- Basic wikis are commodities as there are tons of wiki engines on the market.
- Wikis can be a good platform to integrate other content (with all the macros and extensions) and I believe the platform should be highly open.
- Wikis come from open-source. I learned everything I know about Wikis from open-source. Having an open-source strategy for a Wiki offering is the least I could do.
- As you say in your last sentence, Wikis are about openness ! Wikis are open-source web sites !

I had the same thought about software companies today being smaller. Indeed open-source or not, making good use of the existing open-source software allows and forces your company to be more efficient. Companies do have new options implement software and this is a whole new challenge for software companies.

Oliver Thylmann

Yes, that title was intentionally ironic :)

Great write up by the way.

Jonathan Nolen

Good post. I completely agree that we should be as concerned open data as we are as open sourcecode. And I liked the "open source website" definition of the wiki -- I've used that myself in discussions.

Just out of curiousity, besides JotSpot, SocialText and Confluence, who are the other commerical wiki vendors you mention?

Mike Cannon-Brookes

Well, Ludovic over at xwiki.com is one other commercial vendor I know of (Open source software, pay for services). EditMe.com is another one.

On the topic of openness, you may also want to see Jonathan's excellent (unprompted) write up of why we're an Open Company:


Thanks mate, I owe you a beer next time I'm in SF.

One of our customers in London reading the post, who is a lot better at being succinct than I am, summarised it as follows:

"Most open source monkeys see open source as 'low barrier to entry' - real openness lies in 'low barrier to exit'."

Perfectly put.


The comments to this entry are closed.

Digested Reading