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WikiFarm: Software for centrally administering several wikis.

CCO Public Domain via Pixabay.
CCO Public Domain via Pixabay.

Administering several individual wikis is technically intricate because all too often, a confusing “wiki chaos” develops, which is difficult to take care of. In this area there is already a concept which has proved itself: the wiki farm.

Several wikis can be created, archived or deleted quickly and easily by using a wiki farm.  When creating wikis, the user has the option to create an empty wiki or to clone what is known as a “master wiki”. Such a master wiki can be already filled with content (e.g. handbooks), or contain files and configuration data, all of which can be transferred and supplied.

From a technical point of view, by using the farm concept, one can provide several wikis with just one wiki installation. The wiki software is only installed and saved once on the server and all the wikis use this installation together.

We have had an increasing number of enquiries from customers over the last few years for whom the best possible solution is provided by a wiki farm.  Many have the problem that a single wiki is no longer sufficient, because they need to reflect the most differing topics, languages and permissions concepts. In such cases, we always recommend the use of several wikis via our wiki farm solution.

Why does one need several wikis?

By providing several wiki instances within one organisation, we can ensure that data and permissions structures are absolutely separated. While access to information can be controlled within a wiki by assigning permissions for separate namespaces, this harbours risks and gaps. The basic software MediaWiki does not recognise the regulation of access by namespaces and presents loopholes which an experienced user might make use of. On top of this, there is the risk of errors creeping in when permissions are assigned, making data available for non-authorised users. This can have fatal consequences, particularly in divisions with sensitive information like personnel, research and development or management.

Creating new individual wikis is also especially useful in project management. In general, projects with wikis can be excellently organised and monitored by including, structuring and keeping up to date the content of the project or data like the points of contact and costs, schedules and milestones or the current status and the to-do list.  The security obtained by separating the data makes it possible to share a project wiki with, for example, external service providers or customers, so you can work together and exchange ideas without risk. When a project is concluded, then the wiki can be archived so that the information and data can be made available again if needed at a later time.

Single wikis are not intended to implement multilingualism. There are differing concepts around for solving this, but using separate wikis for each language is still the most elegant and cleanest option (see Wikipedia). This is an indispensable requirement for companies working across the globe, which can be optimally fulfilled with WikiFarm. BlueSpice even has its own special features here. Linking individual articles in different languages is done with InterwikiLinks. In such cases, BlueSpice automatically adds a menu for navigating between languages (see fig. 1).

Figure 1: Navigating in a multilingual wiki
Figure 1: Navigating in a multilingual wiki

Because multilingualism is just as much a hot topic and just as involved as before, we will devote a blog entry just to this topic so we can give more detail.

How does a wiki farm pay off?

So that the creation and maintenance of a number of wiki instances can be managed quickly and simply, there are farm solutions with which organisations and users can practically “host” as many single wikis as they want.

We have developed the technical basis of the BlueSpice farm solution a great deal further, and tailored and optimised it with a view to the individual use-cases of our customers. Not only MediaWikis, but also BlueSpices can be administered by the solution.

The great advantage of using a wiki farm is that the systems are simpler to maintain, which reduces the costs. Patches, updates and upgrades are only carried out in a single system but are available in all wikis of the farm.

Wikis with a limited “lifespan”, like project wikis, are better organised in a wiki farm: if there are processes and tasks that occur again and again, they can be put in a prefabricated structure in the master wiki and content which repeats can be populated. As soon as one needs to, one can clone this wiki so the project can begin immediately. After finishing the project documentation, the wiki is archived in such a way that it is no longer active. The information contained within it, can still be recalled at a later date.

Farm management is configured to be very clear (see fig. 2). Along with a description, keywords can be assigned to individual wikis. The list of wikis can be sorted, filtered and grouped according to different criteria. This makes all wiki instances simple to keep an eye on, and redundant wikis and unused relics can be avoided.

Figure 2: A clear overview of several wiki instances in the farm administration.
Figure 2: A clear overview of several wiki instances in the farm administration.

Putting together the biggest advantages of a BlueSpice WikiFarm, we have:

  • 1 click installation for new wiki instances
  • Very little effort needed to update and upgrade
  • Provision of standardised content via master wikis
  • Data security because content and rights can be separated
  • The clear presentation, sorting and filtering of wikis

Conclusion

If you would like to create and manage several wiki instances in the twinkling of an eye, WikiFarm is exactly the right solution for you. Even when operating just a second (Media)Wiki, the software’s architecture and administration interface save time and costs.

 

BlueSpice 2.27.1 released

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A patch release that’s worth seeing.

It is that time again: we are very pleased to announce the new BlueSpice release 2.27.1, and it is difficult to believe that this is only a patch release.

When we consider the new features, Version 2.27.1 is right at the forefront. The first release of this year focuses on the optimisation of usability and applications in quality management, alongside bug-fixes.

You can find all the detailed information and documentation on our BlueSpice Helpdesk: Continue Reading

BlueSpice 2.27.0 released

New BlueSpice release 2.27.0.

Our focus: quality assurance, usability and farming.

We proudly announce today’s stable release of the new BlueSpice for MediaWiki 2.27.0. It is our second release this year and brings new features and numerous optimizations. Above all, it is fully compatible with the long-time support version MediaWiki 1.27.

All detailed information can be found in our BlueSpice Helpdesk:
Notable changes,
Release notes with changelog,
• Installation instructions with installer and without installer,
Update instructions.

We have installed some pretty helpful features. The focus is on characteristics such as quality assurance, usability and farming.

These are the most important new features of BlueSpice pro 2.27.0:

Continue Reading

BlueSpice Featurelist 2016 online

Yesterday we published a new feature list. It was necessary to record the latest extensions. But we used the opportunity to mention a lot of important features that BlueSpice with MediaWiki as basis technology automatically includes: for example security features, many reporting functions and mobile device support.

These features have been neglected in the past, despite the fact that they show that MediaWiki is the leading system for collaborative knowledge systems for good reasons. Hallo Welt! assumed that these features are well known. Now we wanted to show that BlueSpice already includes in its standard what others advertise as an extra.

There are now 152 features grouped in 17 topics. We could have extended the list considerably, but we focused on the most important features in order to make decision-makers’ work easier.

This year Hallo Welt! will continue to expand  the extension pool of distributions and take important steps towards the integration of extensions. Of this steps our pro customers will benefit in the first place.

Moreover BlueSpice offers unique opportunities in order to develop its own products and customized solutions. These opportunities we will explain in more detail elsewhere, when it comes, for example, to the subject of technology partnerships.

Maybe another note: The feature list is not the same as the official extension list (software catalogue). The extension list shows which extensions are included in the distributions and are supported by us. The official extension list can still be found here.

Now I hope you enjoy studying BlueSpice features 2016. Comments and questions are of course always welcome.

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Lightbox extension now in the BlueSpice shop

With the Lightbox extension it is possible to display thumbnail or image galleries as full-size images in a pop-up while the background is darkened. So with a click on an image you won’t be redirected to the image’s meta page. If you want to call-up the meta page of the image, please click on the window symbols in the thumbnail.

View images with the Lightbox
View images with the Lightbox

This extension is available in our BlueSpice shop.

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A Wiki for the Amazon Web Services – Launch BlueSpice in the Amazon Cloud now

AWS-Cloud-mit-BlueSpice200pxAmazon Web Services also offers the wiki engine BlueSpice now. Our American partner Orbitera provides BlueSpice in the free version in the Amazon Cloud. This means that you start your wiki with just a few clicks in the AWS Marketplace.

BlueSpice in the Marketplace of the Amazon Web Services

1. Call up the BlueSpice page in the Marketplace and – if you don´t have one already – create an account

2. Enter your contact information (please also read the customer agreement, which is linked there)

3. Choose between “OneClick-Launch” and “Manual Launch” and the appropriate entries (instance, server area etc.). Then accept the terms and conditions and start the system with the Launch button

3AWS-OneClickLaunch

4. You will receive a confirmation in the system and and a confirmation mail with further information. To login to the wiki, use „WikiSysop“ as user and your „Instance ID“ as password

5. There you go (user and admin manuel for BlueSpice can be found in our BlueSpice Helpdesk)

BlueSpice is – as usual – not restricted in the number of users and you get the full range of functionality of  the free version.

The advantage of the Amazon Cloud

The costs are low, because it will be charged per hour, e.g. the full usage with the smallest instance and the server location in Frankfurt/Germany costs only 18,25 Dollar per month. All about the instances and which one fits best for your demands can be read here. With AWS you are free to choose the server location – nine are currently available worldwide, two of them in the EU and one of those in Frankfurt / Germany. The pricing for the AWS usage depends inter alia on the server location.

If you don´t know BlueSpice, you can also test it in a 30 days free trial. You don´t have to pay for BlueSpice in this period of time, but the costs for the AWS usage will be charged anyway (from 9,36 $ for 30 days). Furthermore, AWS offers a free tier. Please pay attention to the offer terms.

By the way, we recommend BlueSpice in the Amazon Cloud especially for start-ups and small businesses. Those will not be bothered with administrational tasks and the system is scalable for the possibly growing requirements. Moreover, the Amazon Web Services offer a special start-up program you can take a look at.

If you need support for booking please contact the Amazon Web Services or Orbitera.

Background information about the Amazon Web Services

Radovan Kubani and Marilla Bax raising mugs to the cooperation at CeBIT 15
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Knowledge platform for service and support processes – cooperation with marillabax

Since the beginning of 2015 we welcome service specialist marillabax as a partner at Hallo Welt!
With marillabax we develop a wiki that is not only functionally, but also matches perfectly to the content-related needs of service and support employees. The result of this partnership is called „b-know“, and it is introduced on CeBIT 2015.

Radovan Kubani and Marilla Bax raising mugs to the cooperation at CeBIT 15
Radovan Kubani and Marilla Bax raising mugs to the cooperation at CeBIT

Ms. Bax explains:

When companies talk about service and support, they often mean their telephone or e-mail hotline or when the service technician is solving problems right away.
This is why service is still considered as a necessary but unpopular cost center. Successful companies are demonstrating how service can be more than a cost driver – namely a customer oriented department which supports competitive differentiation and adds value to the company.

To achieve this, a lot of companies buy elaborative consulting processes or expensive training initiatives.
b-know is an internal, wiki-based knowledge platform for all service and support processes and the necessary expertise knowledge. With the help of b-know, companies can reorganize their service and position themselves as customer oriented. All concerned parties have quick access to the expert knowledge, handbooks or FAQ’s they need – this is knowledge management at its best.

Knowledge management in service and support

b-know is available for three industries: IT companies, IT organisations and mechanical engineering. For those industries you will get predefined templates and best practices as a basis, which you can adapt according your needs. New processes can be easily implemented. With the help of b-know companies can profile their service organization much more efficiently, structured and with a higher quality. As a result they save costs and gain additional sales in service and support.

b-know is based on the wiki platform BlueSpice developed by Hallo Welt! and enriched with special service handbooks and contents from marillabax.
More information on the BlueSpice website.

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Increase the efficiency of queries and results with the search extension BlueSpice Service Center

document_searchOne of the main tasks for a service center (also service desk or call center) and the support staff is to find the right answer to customer issues. It implies a detailed documentation, which is searchable by the service employees. If you realize a documentation platform with a search portal in a wiki, the standard search may turn out to be not sufficient and fast enough. Wildcards, categories and facets for defining search terms help to limit an extensive search result but it takes a lot of time.

If you are a service employee you know that answers are required very quickly. Especially IT departments often use ticket systems, where also service employees look for answers. But a ticket system is meant to document and control actual problems and tasks. If you are looking for an answer to an issue that has been solved before – you are lost in the system. Those are documented in “closed tickets” and browsing them costs time and nerves, due to the fact that the search engine in ticket systems is mostly insufficient. Furthermore a standing alone ticket system is not very suitable for a proper documentation.

This is the reason why BlueSpice for MediaWiki offers the opportunity to define search portals in the wiki. This helps giving quick and relevant answers.

Let’s have a look at a typical scenario of BlueSpice Sevice Center:

An incoming call has to be recorded and classified by an agent. In the wiki, typical issues are recorded and predefined. In addition to the possibility of using the standard search, the agent can jump directly into the search portal and use one of the predefined searches. Every subtopic has its own search field there. Below the search mask, the agent will find the top 5 of the most viewed pages within the subtopic.

 

Predefined search fields
Predefined search fields (please click for a detailed view)

If the appropriate page for the required answer is not listed in the top 5, he can use the search mask. It provides a full-text search and all pages of the defined category will be browsed for relevant results. If the search is not successful, he can still use the extended search or jump into another search portal with another subtopic.

This procedure is quick and efficient, but implies a structured documentation with categories and page templates. Due to this, the agent is able to find the exact number, sentence or instruction within an article.

To get more accurate search results, a system of products and categories needs to be defined in advance, to efficiently predefine the search portals. You can do this within your team or with help of an experiences external consultant like the Hallo Welt! – Medienwerkstatt.

Of course, Service Center also makes sense for other areas of application, too. E.g. it is very useful having those search portals in wikis with a lot of content – users can search more efficiently by reducing the time they need for finding information and raising the accuracy of matches.

The BlueSpice Shop is back

It looks a little bit different because we changed the shop software. Compared to Prestashop this software is more stable, more safe and even updates are no problem anymore.

After initial difficulties we are now happy „shoppers“ again and this means for you: you can now pay per Paypal and soon there will be further products and free offers.

Visit our new shop here: https://shop.bluespice.com

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