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March 4, 2009


Since its creation, UM Wiki has been based on the TWiki wiki platform. TWiki has many advanced features and is very extensible. Although the learning curve has sometimes proved difficult for our users, the overall experience has been a good one. Recently there were some disputes among the TWiki developer community. From a U of M perspective the dispute is less important than the result which is that the vast majority of critical developers forked(definition) forming the Foswiki project.

Currently the Foswiki development community is very active and working on a host of bug fixes and new features we'd like to take advantage of for UM Wiki. One little-known fact is that the System Status site is also based on TWiki. The Office of Information Technology is currently testing a new version of system status based on Foswiki 1.0 and we are pleased so far with the results. If the new software performs as well in production as it does in test, we hope to move UM Wiki to a Foswiki base sometime in Summer of 2009. This will hopefully be after the official Foswiki 1.1 release which will include many usability and performance improvements over the current UM Wiki code base.

March 2, 2009

Changing the Title of your Topic (page)

Recently you may have noticed %TOPICPARENT% showing up in the breadcrumbs along the top of some UM Wiki pages.

Due to a bug in the editing add-on we use for UM Wiki the "parent" for a page was being changed every time the page was saved regardless of whether or not it changed. In some rare cases the parent was also being changed to odd values such as %TOPICPARENT%. The best solution we were able to come up with was to remove the "Settings" tab from the edit page. As the only setting was the broken topic parent setting. You can still change the topic parent by clicking on the "More topic actions..." link at the bottom of every page in UM Wiki.

September 22, 2008


Update: Fixed!

So by "next few days" I must have meant to say September to October. Group forms are once again working per design.

Users will see the following line on group pages for the next few days: %EDITPREFERENCES{TWiki.GroupForm}%

The Preferences Plugin which we rely on to create the group management form is not saving changes to groups. We are working to fix this and decided to disable the plugin until we have it resolved.

While this is going on you can still edit your groups:

  1. Click the normal Edit button in the upper right corner of the page (do not use the WYSIWYG editor for group or preferences editing)
  2. Look for the line
    * Set GROUP = Main.internetid, Main.x500, Main.etc
  3. Continue adding Internet ID's or WikiNames to the line above. Make sure to put a comma between each entry and to start each entry with "Main." while keeping them all on one line.

We'll get the plugin back up and running as soon as we can. Thank you for your patience.

August 27, 2008

The Move is Over

We've Moved

https://wiki.umn.edu is now on its new home. Some users of outside DNS servers may see the old server for a while yet. The old server is read-only and will have a broadcast message at the top. We'll bring the old server down completely once we're sure DNS records have updated completely. Bugs and feedback should continue to be emailed to wiki@umn.edu. Your help finding issues and suggesting improvements is appreciated.

What's Next

Once UM Wiki is settled into its new home we'll get back to the business of updating plugins and fixing bugs while looking at what features we can add later this year.

August 21, 2008

UM Wiki Move Scheduled August 26 at 8pm

On Tuesday, August 26 at 8pm UM Wiki will move to its new server. This process should take roughly an hour during which the wiki will be alternately read-only and unavailable while we copy data and point the wiki.umn.edu address at the new server. We're still very interested in your feedback on the new server.

August 11, 2008

Button Madness

Due to instability with the new WYSIWYG editor we've moved the default back to the enhanced TWiki editor. This was the default behavior. The WYSIWYG editor is still there and still works great for basic pages. It's only when you get into advanced TWiki variables that the editor begins to have difficulty translating between html and TWiki markup. Feedback on any of these changes is much appreciated.

August 5, 2008

A New Server for UMWiki

We have finished our initial setup and testing on a new server for UMWiki. UMWiki's new home is up and running at wiki-new.software.umn.edu and has a copy of the data from wiki.umn.edu as of last Friday August 1, 2008. Any changes made on wiki-new will be lost when we do the final move from the old wiki server to the new one in a few weeks. Between now and then we still have a few more plugins to update and test and some documentation to finish updating.

In the meanwhile we'd like you to test the new setup and send us feedback before we go live. In addition to faster hardware we've added the following features:

  • WYSIWYG - You've been asking for it and we've finally been able to install it. Please test the WYSIWYG edit extensively. We will be providing an option to disable it where complex TWiki Markup prevents it from working properly.
  • Updated TWiki Editor - New shortcut functions.
  • Updated look and feel - We now have some more choices for how UMWiki looks. Instructions will be forthcoming if you prefer the old look as well as some other alternate new appearances.
  • Updated Plugins - Several of the TWiki Plugins we rely on were in need of an update. Any help you can provide in making sure these new versions haven't broken anything is appreciated.

Please test wiki-new and making sure all your content still looks right and that plugins are all working as they have in the past. We have done internal testing but we are always grateful for your help in finding anything we miss. Please send feedback to wiki@umn.edu. Our plan now is to finish our short list of remaining changes--more updates will appear here as they happen--and fix any new bugs that you report to us. Once we're satisfied that wiki-new is ready to become production, we'll copy the data over one last time and point wiki.umn.edu to the new box.

July 10, 2008

Wiki Basics

The University Technology Training Center is offering a new and improved Wiki Basics course on Wed. Jul 23, 2008. Here's a brief list of topics covered:
  • understanding the advantages of wikis
  • exploring good wiki design
  • structuring content into Wiki Topics
  • using wiki shorthand for text formatting
  • controlling access to a Wiki Web
  • requesting a new Wiki Web

June 18, 2008

Access Controls

One of our biggest support issues with UM Wiki is how to set and maintain access controls. Towards that end we have updated our documentation with a handy new guide to access controls. Please feel free to send email to wiki@umn.edu or leave feedback in a comments on this post about how we can further improve this document or where we're light on guides.

April 10, 2008

Wikis in Plain English

Via Michael Daum:
Wikis in Plain English.
A nice run down of why wikis are neat.

February 11, 2008

UMWiki Availability

We get a number of requests everyone once in a while regarding the reliability of the UMWiki, so I thought it would be good to post it on the wiki here. The answer is provided by the wiki project manager, Liz Wendland.

Continue reading "UMWiki Availability" »

August 21, 2007

The Big Day

So today is The Big Day™ for UM Wiki and we're pretty excited. To summarize what's new:

Continue reading "The Big Day" »

August 20, 2007

Office 2007 - Updated

UPDATE: Eric and Justin did some tag team work on this and have managed to make the wiki aware of the new Office 2k7 file formats on dev. We expect to move this over to production shortly.

Word to the wise. Office 2007 files (docx) seem to be mistyped according to Internet Explorer. Those wishing to attach files of type .docx to the wiki would be better served using NetFiles or saving their documents in the more compatible Office 97/2003 format.

It's also worth considering if you need a binary format for your data at all. After all a Wiki Topic provides much of the functionality and formatting of a basic word processing doc.

We need to do more testing on this issue and hope to have a better solution sometime after we complete our fall updates.