WebDAV and MediaWiki

A few weeks back at EMWCon 2016, Angelika Müller from Hallo Welt! spoke about the sales life cycle for enterprise wiki services, featuring their  Blue Spice MediaWiki Enterprise Distribution. During her talk, Angelika hinted at a project they had completed for some customers* involving WebDAV. Unfortunately, the constraints of that engagement prevented them from speaking openly about it at the conference; the one year “gag order” was set to expire a few days after the conference.

wikiDAV0.pngWell, that gag order is up and the Blue Spice team invited us to join a webinar today to show of what they’ve done. Very cool stuff. (I have some screengrabs from the webinar, but they are on a different computer. I will add them in tomorrow.) 

The webinar was a demo conducted by Markus Glaser from the Blue Spice team, showing off how the WebDAV integration with MediaWiki, through Blue Spice, works. For those not familiar, WebDAV

stands for “Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning”. It is a set of extensions to the HTTP protocol which allows users to collaboratively edit and manage files on remote web servers.

Basically, it lets you interact with files on a remote web server as if they were local files. In the enterprise this typically means Microsoft Office files from a Windows computer.

To start the demo, Markus showed how you can access a wiki through Windows Explorer, with the ability to open and edit the actual wiki articles. Though this is a cool feature, as Markus noted it not an especially interesting use case. Opening a page and editing it on a text editor on your computer will be slower and more cumbersome than simply editing the page on the wiki, and you will still need to use wikitext for the content.

The really interesting, and valuable, aspect of WebDAV integration with wiki goes back to those MS Office files. With the access to the wiki through Windows Explorer, you can directly add files to the wiki through your computer file system. For example by dragging and dropping from another folder, or simply saving a new file to the Media folder (aka namespace) on the wiki.

In addition to adding files through Explorer you can open, edit, and save the file as if the file were stored locally on your computer. Which is, of course, what WebDAV does. The really great part, though, was that you can also open the file from within the wiki, edit it, and save it directly back to the wiki. No downloading, editing, and then uploading again. If you’ve ever had to do that, you know how nice this feature is. In both cases, the versioning info is maintained on the file’s wiki page.

One of the challenges with the way MediaWiki handles files, of course, is that they typically all go into a single namespace, such as “File”. Not only does this make it hard to keep things organized, all of the files have the same permissions. To address this, Markus demonstrated the Extension:NSFileRepo in action.

The NSFileRepo extension restricts access to upload and read files and images to a given set of user groups associated with protected namespaces. Using this extension (within the security limitations noted above), you can protect not only pages and areas of your wiki, but also any uploaded images or files within those namespaces.

The WebDAV integration can be used on a “vanilla” MediaWiki install, but some of the features Markus demonstrated today are specific to Blue Spice. Installation is a bit more involved than simply installing an extension; the way that WebDAV works requires some web server configuration as well.

tl;dr Using WebDAV integration with MediaWiki provides a much more user friendly experience for uploading and working with files on MediaWiki.

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* They built the WebDAV integration as a crowdsourced project, where several customers contributed to the project to ensure it was fully funded. Those customers agreed to making the project available to general customers, but only after a certain amount of time (a year) had passed. An interesting approach to getting open source work funded, one I’ll probably come back to again later. 

Military Wiki: Standard Profile, Article Rating and Gamification – BlueSpice Blog

Military Wiki: Standard Profile, Article Rating and Gamification – BlueSpice Blog

In his talk at the Enterprise MediaWiki Conference 2016 in New York Jason Bock informed about some social aspects they built into the system also implemented by the functions of Semantic Mediawiki. […]

Source: Military Wiki: Standard Profile, Article Rating and Gamification – BlueSpice Blog

Service-dominant logic – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Marketing inherited a model of exchange from economics, which had a dominant logic based on the exchange of “goods”, which usually are manufactured output. The dominant logic focused on tangible resources, embedded value, and transactions. Over the past several decades, new perspectives have emerged that have a revised logic focused on intangible resources, the co-creation of value, and relationships. The new perspectives are converging to form a new dominant logic for marketing, one in which service provis

Source: Service-dominant logic – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Service Design Network STL Meetup – some notes

Service Design Network STL Meetup – some notes

Notes from the June 2016 meetup of the SDN STL chapter.

 

Behind the Federal Front Door: Citizen-Centered Service Design (Brad Nunnally)

sdnstl_bn.jpg

Ninety-four percent of federal IT projects are over budget / schedule. Huge budget (in the $Bs), most of maintenance and legacy.

Brad is from 18F. All products they create are open source (free as in beer), they provide services to other federal agencies. Has grown quite a bit over last year or so, up to 190 people. Many on “temporary” assignment while on sabbatical from their regular job.

Brad is currently working on the Federal Front Door.

Contrary to what many think, the Federal government is not a monolithic organization, it is made up of many (many) independent organizations, each with their own “CEO”, “CTO”, etc. How do you design a consistent experience across all of government?

“It’s too good to be a Government website”, some people’s reactions, so they need to to put in a bit of artificial friction to make it easier to accept.

Met with people in different areas around the country. Conducted interviews and diary studies. Focused on life events with general users. Diary study with librarians. (Librarians can’t help people on the web, just point them to the computers?)

They’ve learned a lot, not many answers yet. Three main problems:

  • Capacity – not enough workforce to cover all citizen needs
  • Digital infrastructure – it sucks (OK, Brad said, “It’s bad”)
    • much of it doesn’t even have https yet
    • it is bad in large part due to the procurement process
    • launched this week, agile bpa
  • One-sizefits-all approach –
    • privacy, for example, is diverse not cookie cutter

Other considerations

  • digital literacy
  • digital access
    • a lot of mobile, drives design
  • English fluency

Stressors

  • Personal – what’s happening in your life
  • Governmental – what gov’t is doing to you

nts: the problem is much much larger than the digital front door; the actual citizen facing services need significant work.

People don’t trust the government with their information. But the government already has all of your information. Why do they keep asking you for the same information over and over?  FAFSA is a good example of one org sharing / pulling with another.

Front door:

  • Web standards
    • 508 compliant
    • design standards web site, on github
    • Verterans, USAJobs are starting to use these standards
    • Open Opps
    • Local gov’ts
  • Sharing data between silos
    • Import
    • Share

labs.usa.gov, standards.usa.gov, github.com/18F

How to design a service – Intro to Service Design (Nathan Lucy)

sdnstl_nl.jpgWhat is a service: the use of one’s competences for the benefit of another. (from the body of knowledge known as “common sense”.) The fundamental basis of exchange, the foundation of economics.

Money is a medium for exchanage (see “Google bus”). A means of transaction, not storage.

Beneficiary is always a co-creator of value. There is no value without a consumer, and they always determine the value.

No one wants a 1/4″ drill, they want a 1/4″ hole. Many ways to get a hole, to deliver that service. Buy the drill, HILTI, use a knife, etc.

Research. Synthesis. Ideation. Prototyping. Testing.

===

We used appear.in as a way to share part of the presentation, need to learn more about that.

Next meetup – 6 October.