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I just read a list of good arguments from Colas Nahaboo for Foswiki on the Foswiki mailing list and wanted to post them here quickly:
Our Foswiki at work (ILOG, then IBM) is in place since 2001, and has
now 60,000 pages. In my view, the main strengths of Foswiki wrt
mediawiki are:
* Utter reliability: it can run unattended for months without a worry,
it relies only on the filesystem. And if the filesystem is on a
NAS…. automatic continous backup for free!
* Resilience: it survives problems such as no more disk space, power
outages, hard disk failures with no damage nor curruptions
* Integration: you can use Foswiki pages as front-end applications to
services, or as display of programs results, as the engine just handle
text files that are easy to handle or generate by any scripting
language you like. For instance we use a separate search engine (now a
Google appliance) to provide full text searching.
* Power: If you are used to the unix way of thinking (data is defined
as simple text in files, and you use shell/perl/python/ruby/C/...
scripts to manage them) then any kind of feature can be added to
Foswiki as the engine is geared to having its data files changed by
other processes too, thanks to its dynamic nature. The great feature
of Foswiki is that users can code a feature via Foswiki Macros, and
other users can copy/paste this code which is not hidden like the php
of Mediawiki extensions.
On the performance problems, the main drawback of this dynamicity is
that a lot of things are recomputed on each requests, e.g. some
"macros" in Foswiki that search in pages can be slow. But things can
be optimised quite a bit by separating the contents into different
directories, and coding special scripts or plugins to optimize the
bottlenecks. Flat files are not slow per se (a grep in our 60,000
pages takes 10 seconds), it is just that we lack now the equivalent of
"indexes" you have with a database. But the community is working on
this.
I would add that wheter you choose Mediawiki or Foswiki, your
technical team is expected to learn to invest some time to unerstand
how the system works. I guess in the end the decisive factor is
whether your people are more at ease with php+mysql or with
traditional Unix scripting.
Colas.
Our Foswiki at work (ILOG, then IBM) is in place since 2001, and has now 60,000 pages. In my view, the main strengths of Foswiki wrt mediawiki are:
  • Utter reliability: it can run unattended for months without a worry, it relies only on the filesystem. And if the filesystem is on a NAS…. automatic continous backup for free!
  • Resilience: it survived problems such as no more disk space, power outages, hard disk failures with no damage nor corruptions
  • Integration: you can use Foswiki pages as front-end applications to services, or as display of programs results, as the engine just handle text files that are easy to handle or generate by any scripting language you like. For instance we use a separate search engine (now a Google appliance) to provide full text searching.
  • Power: If you are used to the unix way of thinking (data is defined as simple text in files, and you use shell/perl/python/ruby/C/... scripts to manage them) then any kind of feature can be added to Foswiki as the engine is geared to having its data files changed by other processes too, thanks to its dynamic nature. The great feature of Foswiki is that users can code a feature via Foswiki Macros, and other users can copy/paste/enhance this code which is not hidden like the php of Mediawiki extensions.
  • On the performance problems, the main drawback of this dynamicity is that a lot of things are recomputed on each requests, e.g. some "macros" in Foswiki that search in pages can be slow. But things can be optimised quite a bit by separating the contents into different directories, and coding special scripts or plugins to optimize the bottlenecks. Flat files are not slow per se (a grep in our 60,000 pages takes 10 seconds), it is just that we lack now the equivalent of "indexes" you have with a database. But the community is working on this.
I would add that whether you choose Mediawiki or Foswiki, your technical team is expected to invest some time to understand how the system works. I guess in the end the decisive factor is whether your people are more at ease with php+mysql or with traditional Unix scripting.

Colas
Read the whole mail-conversation including a happy ending here on our Nabble-documentation online.

How to remotely join the Foswiki Summit

21 Nov 2009 | Martin Seibert | Tips
Foswiki summit begins today and lasts until tomorrow. Did you know that you can participate from your home computer remotely? Yes, you can.
One goal of the Foswiki community is to be open and transparent. That's why we try to incorporate all technical means available to help you join the summit from your remote desktop.
Here is what you can do:
- Join our IRC chat
That is where we expect the most activity and documentation, because this is the channel we use most often in the day-to-day community communication.
- Read the wikipages on www.foswiki.org
We will try to document and update the wiki regularly. You can monitor these changes by looking at all changes in all webs.
- Ride the wave
Some of the summit's participants are fond of Google Wave and will try to use it for our conference live documentation in addition to other channels.
- Etherpad for live text collaboration
The service etherpad.com offers live text collaboration that is much faster than Google Wave and more powerful than IRC chat. It will turn out during our sessions, if this is going to be utilized a lot. Thank you to Colas Nahaboo for the tip.
- uStream live video
It is unsure if the web connection in hannover and our technical equipment will make it possible to offer a video stream. But if so we will. Find out on the IRC chat what the current state is.
Get current infos on foswiki.org
We will maintain this wiki page about RemoteFoswikiSummitParticipation to keep you in the loop of how to interact with us through the mentioned channels. Check that page now for more info.
We are looking forward to virtually meet you for our first Foswiki Community Summit.
Martin Seibert on behalf of the physical participants in Hannover
Foswiki summit begins today and lasts until tomorrow. Did you know that you can participate from your home computer remotely? Yes, you can.

One goal of the Foswiki community is to be open and transparent. That's why we try to incorporate all technical means available to help you join the summit from your remote desktop.

Here is what you can do:

Join our IRC chat

That is where we expect the most activity and documentation, because this is the channel we use most often in the day-to-day community communication. Here is how you can get on our IRC channel.

Read the wikipages on www.foswiki.org

We will try to document and update the wiki regularly. You can monitor these changes by looking at all changes in all webs.

Ride the wave

Some of the summit's participants are fond of Google Wave and will try to use it for our conference live documentation in addition to other channels. Find all public Google Waves about Foswiki here.

Etherpad for live text collaboration

The service etherpad.com offers live text collaboration that is much faster than Google Wave and more powerful than IRC chat. It will turn out during our sessions, if this is going to be utilized a lot. Thank you to Colas Nahaboo for the tip. Here is the etherpad-document.

uStream live video

It is unsure if the web connection in hannover and our technical equipment will make it possible to offer a video stream. But if so we will. Find out on the IRC chat what the current state is. Not established until now. Lets see …

We are looking forward to virtually meet you for our first Foswiki Community Summit.

Martin Seibert on behalf of the physical participants in Hannover

Did you ever ask yourself how one can improve the WebIndex in Foswiki, that simply lists the entries of a Foswiki-Web in alphabetical order? Andrew R. Jones created a Best Practice Tip on Foswiki.org and in his weblog ( Improving the Web Index in Foswiki using the Filter Plugin):

In a standard Foswiki setup there is a topic in every web called WebTopicList, which is linked to from the side bar as Index. By default it simply lists all the topics in one big list, as shown below (or view onfoswiki.org):

old-webtopiclist.png

This certainly isn’t very elegant. Luckily by using Michael Daum’s Filter Plugin we can improve the index by giving it some structure and making it more like a directory, as shown below:

new-webtopiclist.png

To do this we only need to make a small change to the WebTopicList in the System web. Since all the other webs simply import that page the changes will be immediately visible across the wiki with just the one change.

Edit the WebTopicList topic and replace this line:

%TOPICLIST{"   * [[%BASEWEB%.$name][$name]]"}%

With this:

%MAKEINDEX{
   "%TOPICLIST{"$name" separator=","}%" 
   cols="3" 
   header="$anchors" 
   format="[[%BASEWEB%.$item][$item]]"
}%

Thats it! You now get a much more friendly and useful index in all of your webs.

Note: This tip has also been made available on  foswiki.org.

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