Jul 222010

MindTouch released MindTouch 2010 “Olympic” today. This has a lot of features they added specifically as a result of conversions I had with them earlier this year, and makes a lot of user experience improvements.

Take a look at the release notes.

Given that we’re planning to switch to a new wiki system in the first or second quarter of 2011, I’d like to get your opinions on whether or not we should install a major software update like this one right now.

On the plus side, it does give us some nice new features and usability improvements both for editing and maintaining, as well as supposedly substantial search improvements.

On the minus side, we’ve had problems with major MindTouch upgrades in the past. In addition, some of the exciting new features are ones that we won’t have with the first version of the new MDN wiki system our development team is building for us. I’d hate for people to get used to new features only to have them go away a few months later.

So what do you all think? I could go either way on this one — I’d like to have the new features but worry about how it would impact the community. So let me know how you feel either by email or commenting here.

 Posted by at 2:58 PM

  10 Responses to “To upgrade or not to upgrade?”

  1. I think you are right to be concerned that people will get too attached to new features and resent their disappearance when the new platform is rolled out. Also, “if it ain’t broke…” (which seems pertinent given recent history).

    However, if we don’t install this update, will we be able to install any subsequent updates? If not, I guess we can only skip this update if we are ok with staying on the current version until we switch platforms.

  2. That’s a concern, too. If security issues are found in the older version, we may have problems if we haven’t already installed the 2010 update. But since things are more or less stable now, I worry about “rocking the boat” at this point too.

  3. why are you building your own wiki?

  4. I still don’t understand why you changed from Mediawiki to this. Deki is one of those “open core” things. Mediawiki is full open source!

    But what is worse is the functionality: everything is done visually and through a GUI, what was easy to do on Mediawiki in Deki is a nightmare. Ergonomy and usability are poor and doing anything at all requires 3 mouse clicks. Everything requires a mouse click. Do you know what that does to your arms and wrists?

  5. “Given that we’re planning to switch to a new wiki system in the first or second quarter of 2011”

    Really? News to me, want to say a bit more about that?

  6. Fredrik:

    I honestly can tell you that I’m not entirely sure why we’ve chosen to build our own wiki. I know that we’re leveraging the work already started for the new SUMO site; beyond that, I had very little to do with the decision to use a custom-built one. However, given that decision, I’m very excited that we’ll be able to build up a site that has the exact feature set we want and need. We’ve given the webdev team a very big set of features we want to have, and have not been told “no” on anything yet. :)


    The switch away from MediaWiki was done because we kept having to patch MediaWiki to add features we needed, and the MediaWiki devs were not very cooperative when we tried to elicit their help in adding features to the base software. Every time MediaWiki got updated, we had to rewrite our patches. Finally we got fed up with it and switched platforms.

    I personally really like the MindTouch platform (which wasn’t always the case). I agree we ran into issues with it, and it was possibly not the best choice for our extremely technically-minded users, but for writers and editors, it is a very nice package once you get past the technical problems we ran into, many of which weren’t really problems with the software itself, but were problems with the way we were using it.

    From my perspective having a visual interface like MindTouch’s makes the software more approachable and vastly easier to use. I know some people like the very rudimentary user interface on MediaWiki, but by and large, those aren’t the people who spend literally all day working on writing and editing content on the site.

    All that said, it’s been decided that wikitext markup will be used for the new site; there will be a WYSIWYG editor on top of that, but you’ll be able to use wikitext. I personally don’t particularly like this decision, but if the WYSIWYG editor is good, I can live. I don’t happen to like wikitext markup at all; but that’s just a personal thing.


    We talked about it at our MDN presentation at the Summit. I’ll be talking about it more in the next few weeks.

  7. Eric,

    Seems to me moving from MindTouch back to Wiki-Text markup based system is a giant leap backward. Considering all of the social tools that are coming out and their inevitable integration with Wiki based solutions, Mozilla’s new direction is the wrong direction. Moreover, MindTouch has recently released a product that is entirely focused on documentation, analytics and community building, so the decision of the company seems to be a bad one.

    Oh well, good luck.

  8. @sheppy Best of luck with the new site. Sorry to hear things haven’t been as successful with MindTouch but I applaud your disdain for wikitext. Cheers!

  9. Any word on when MDC search will be fixed ?

  10. IT is actively trying to understand why the indexer keeps bombing on us. It’ll be fixed as soon as they can sort it out.