[ZDP] Wiki Parser? (Was RE: [Zope] ZWiki)

Patrick Phalen zope@teleo.net
Fri, 21 Apr 2000 10:00:27 -0700

[Michael Simcich, on Fri, 21 Apr 2000]
:: What's neat about Wikis, to me at least, is that they offer us a communal
:: scratch-pad which is dead simple to work with. It's really trippy to be able
:: to contribute spontaneously to a website, and to intermingle your own
:: thoughts with those of others.
:: It does have limitations that bug me sometimes. Nevertheless I think it's a
:: great invention, and one that will probably spawn variants that are just as
:: interesting. Could happen here in fact! ZWiki is utterly simple to set up,
:: thanks to Simon and DC, and eminently tweakable.

[I don't know if it's appropriate to continue the crossposting that
began this thread. Maybe continued discussion should be moved to zdp?]

Anyway, Michael speaks about tweaking or forming variants of ZWiki,
which is akin to something I've been thinking about the past few days.

There is a common need among open source and open standards communities
(including Zope) to evolve discussions from loose and unstructured to
something finally more formalized and ordered (e.g., specifications,
documentation, etc.). The difference with the Zope community is that
we actually have tools which could be adapted to that purpose.

Wikis provide one model for the loose first stage (Usenet and
threaded mailing list archives provide another). In a way, they
overlay a brainstorming model onto the network model. They permit
fleeting thoughts to be "captured in a bottle." The problem is how
then to migrate from the loose to the structured, once the discussion
has run its course and it's time to organize the material and publish
something formal (documentation, for example).

Of course this can be accomplished by someone laboriously combing
through the Wiki or the archive and hand-assembling something, but it
would be nice to have tools or hooks to automate the process.

Generators have been used in past to create FAQs from discussion lists,
but they tend to require a lot of human intervention and they still end
up being too linear.

Cognitively, homo sapiens aren't equipped with much bandwidth for
complexity; they rely on media to aid them. Wikis eventually evolve
into complex representations of information with no abstract or overview
representation. What Wikis do well is capturing freeform,
brainstorming-style discussion. Thereafter, it would be beneficial to
have different representations of the information they contain, perhaps
including a tree or outline view. How else can you see the whole
picture and organize it into something more useful?

The Interfaces Wiki is an example. I imagine Michel Pelletier would be
happy, when the time comes to turn the ideas in the Interfaces Wiki into
real documentation, to be able to see the whole Wiki in a linear or
hierarchical view.

I don't know how ZWiki is implemented, but if it were XML at a granular
level, then maybe it could be parsable into different presentation

Or maybe there is some other tool available which already addresses
this. E.g., there is wonderful application program called "Inspiration"
(Win/Mac) which allows a user to bring up a graphical view and add boxes
containing concepts (text and/or images), and then freely interconnect
the boxes arbitrarily with lines to form a "concept map." Then, one
mouse click can turn that into a collapsible/expandable outline view.

Bottom line: is there a way to parse a Wiki and generate an outline