Saturday, December 01, 2007

wiki, kile, kontact, RT...and voila!

Wikis, kontact, RT and kile are four of the basic tools I use everyday. Some of the guys I work with have been worried for a long time about integration of tools in one interface so they can work with them in a wiki way.

When I first heard about this I didn't think it was a great idea, but now I'm 100% convinced about the need of such a tool.

When people begin to use computers need clear and easy to use interfaces, where all the information is placed in text boxes with big names with one screen for each concept, like kontact does. Is the groupware way. Kontact is a great tool because integration between tools has always been a concern for the developers. Part of it success is because of that.

Wikis are terrific tools. They make the difference, specially when you are part of a big team. Bugtrackers are also useful in those cases. Is not only a tool for developers but for all kind of people. Workers are much more efficient when they can list the activities they have to accomplish ordered by priority. To coordinate teams is much easier when you can take a look to everybody's contributions in a wiki and list their assigned work.

Kile is a basic tool for me. It makes easy to use tags in LaTeX.

So, why not to take the best of each one of them in a single tool (or a single interface)? I want a tool like kile but not for writing LaTex but for writing in a wiki.

Let's say I'm writing a text that I want to send to somebody, so I select that text and introduce a tag (|body| my text|/body|). When I press save, the tool detects the tag and, since I haven't specified basic information to send the e-mail, it ask me, lets say, in a panel at the right side of the screen. Of course I could have defined it while writing the text with the tag |to|e-mail address|/to|, for example. The same can happen with names, phone numbers, etc.

All the information tagged can be found in the wiki page where I wrote it but, since the tool recognice the tags, specific information can be listed in a specific page automatically. So if I look for the name of a travel agency, for example, it shows me all the names (information tagged with |name|) associated to the information tagged with |company_type|. I also can decide which information associated with the tag |company_name| I want to be shown.

This works very well with bug reports. We integrated long time ago Twiki with RT by defining specific tags in the wiki that opens or close new bugs (tasks) in RT, all identified with diferent colours (red for open tasks, green for closed tags, etc). We cannot live now without it.

The calendar can work perfectly this way. I can define a meeting by writing in a wiki page something like this: |meeting|Talk about KDE|/meeting||hour|8:30|/hour||place|tenerife|/place|. Since it is hard to remember the tags(there would be tons of them), we need an kile like interface to list them all. There has to be a special wiki page where you can list all the meetings or list what you have to do today, ordered by priority, date or whatever. You can also assign tags to information that relates it to other information so you can list it all together in one wiki page. Wikis do this quiet well with a whole contribution, but it should be possible to do it with a single piece of information.

The point is be able to introduce different kind of information without switching from one interface or tool to another one. You have them all in one (from the user point of view).

This is a more natural approach than the one we use now. When you are in front of your computer, you begin to write a text, for example. Part of that text has to be sent as an e-mail (so you tag that part as |body|) where you have included a contact and a task (you tag both). Right now you have to copy the text and paste in a new e-mail (you open a mail client), then open the tracker and create one task, write the contact information in a specific tool (so you keep record of it) and attach it to the e-mail and then send it. Too many interfaces for basic actions, in my opinion.

Making such a tool attractive to beginners would be hard, I know. Anyway, I want something like this so I asked for it to the Three Wise Men.

Have you get the idea of what I want? Is it an impossible dream? Do you know a good approach to this idea?
Post a Comment