May 11, 2006
Order And Structure

The starting point for this page is the observation that wikis often seem chaotic and we have to admit that they sometimes really are. But what is behind this statement? Sometimes this is:

  • a subjective judgement because occasional visitors do not see or understand the existing order systems.
  • an objective fact, because hundreds or thousands of pages are created without caring to make them accessible.
  • a misunderstanding of what a wiki can be. If you want to have a vivid and living community, you can not - at the same time - have military or hierarchical orderlyness. Think of a tree: it is beautiful, a perfect living system, fully functional even for economic use ... but the branches and leaves are not aligned and orderly.
That said, one can hardly do too much, to make wiki accessable to its readers, users and authors. There are many ways to do this, some are technically supported and some are just BestPractices.

ProWiki supports within the wiki:

  • PageIndex -- two clicks to access any single page (ProWiki uses a special caching mechanism to make this a low cost operation)
  • FolderSystem -- Each page can be marked to be shown immediately in an arbitrary number of folders (again special caching makes this a low-cost operation)
  • FullTextSearch -- full text regular expression searching lets you search whatever way you want to search. This is a costly process that ProWiki supports and most other engines avoid.
  • SideBar -- an editable side bar makes the most important PortalPages available and you can change this arrangement daily according to your needs
  • PortalPages -- as part of BestPractices you should build and maintain PortalPages (aka RoadMaps or StartingPoints) to make wikis accessible for different interests, views or perspectives
  • BackLinking -- you can access all pages that link to a certain page. So it is easy to understand the overall context and restructure it.
  • WordIndex -- access and control your vocabulary if you want to go for a PatternLanguage
  • PageHierarchy -- hierarchical ordering of pages. The pages "inherit" properties from their "parent" pages, which may include defining access rights as well as completely different Template and design options.
  • WikiNesting -- you can have fractal (self-similar) wikis within wikis, which we call SubWiki. Such SubWikis often take the form of a separate WorkSpaces (e. g. for persons, projects or initiatives) and can again contain SubWikis (e. g. for projects) recursively.
ProWiki supports structures above the wiki-level:
FolderStructures FolderStartingPoints