Since we've announced Clearspace, we have had a lot of people ask about its relationship to wikis: Is it a wiki? Does it have a wiki? How does it work with other wikis? Here's a little insight on Clearspace and wikis and how we see them co-existing.


For those of you who don't know what a wiki is (and suprisingly a lot of people still don't know), according to wikipedia: "A wiki is a website that allows the visitors themselves to easily add, remove, and otherwise edit and change some available content, sometimes without the need for registration. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for mass collaborative authoring."


*Our Approach*


As part of our research, we found that a good portion of our customers have been using wikis for a while and while they love the ease of authoring and collaborative aspects, they didn't love how unstructured, hard to control and how quickly all the content becomes jumbled and lost. Not to mention, they felt that their wikis were a bit too "techie" for the entire company and that there were many administrative and enterprise-performance issues.  Plus they were looking for something bigger than a single point solution. That's why they asked us to incorporate some of the same principles into the structured content systems they were using from us. "Combine a wiki with a knowledge base" was essentially the message -- quick editing, wiki syntax and co-authoring mixed with workflow, metadata and easy navigation.

The Differences


Structure: As mentioned above, this is the main difference between the two. The wiki-style features in Clearspace are meant to build documents, not a website. And the system as a whole is organized around teams, departments, or communities of practice, so it's designed to become an organizational content system--a place where content never hides.


Check out the screenshots below. Before even getting to the wiki functionality, Clearspace organizes and filters content so that people can find the content they're looking for. Note that wiki-documents (the orange "page" icon) is content that coexists with ongoing discussions, new blog posts and uploaded files.


[according to wikipedia|]

Now, here's a wiki-page. This one has been published and is currently being edited. The wiki portion has the orange background and as you can see, is treated more as a document within the application vs. everything being the wiki (application). We think this will be great as certain wiki-documents could get "template-ized." Sort of like what Notes tried


[according to wikipedia|]

Applications: Wikis are great at going deep with application features (application wikis). There's a ton you can do with a wiki and when people need powerful features that build out their wiki-driven websites they'll want to buy a wiki application. We can see a role for them alongside Clearspace. We plan to have Clearspace expose other wiki application's content so that entire companies can use them to find or participate in editing their content.


Process: Clearspace is all about open collaboration. A big part of that is managing the process around collaboration. Clearspace has fantastic, lightweight yet robust workflow for documents, forums, blogs and users/communities. Its goal is to manage these flows of content intelligently and easily (i.e. without becoming a full ECMS) -- relating content, finding users, notifying the right people at the right time, managing the editing process, real-time co-authoring (conferencing), etc. This is much more akin to Sharepoint than Office.


Wiki applications are a very powerful tool for creating collaborative websites quickly among a team and they provide deep application functionality to perform those functions. Clearspace focuses this level of functionality on documents (wiki-docs) as one part of other powerful content like discussions and blogs within the application. Clearspace is meant to manage collaboration workflows and structured information without the overhead of traditional systems. We've been using it internally for a while now and are positively addicted to it.


We really look forward to sharing it with you all in just a matter of weeks. Not to mention the release party. These guys deserve it.