Ok, I got to see the editing capabilities of paternshare.org. Here are my miscellaneous notes while browsing:

  • Why does the “edit” view of a page look so completely different from the other views? It is awful.
  • The “preview” command looks like it just saved immediately and went to the page, rather than doing a real preview
  • I see instructions for “how to write a pattern”, but not “how to use our Wiki syntax”. That’s necessary on the edit page.
  • Why doesn’t the system automatically copy the default template, or allow one of a set of default templates to start with? e.g. <a href="create.aspx?template=Home.Patterns.Template">
  • why can only logged-in users get RSS feeds?
  • History view doesn’t show diffs (or even a +chars -chars to give us an idea of how big the changes are).

Ok, now the important part is really “what can we do to fix these problems?” In regards to the more superficial problems, there’s two things at work here: the content in the pages themselves (which from what I can tell, appear to be basic wiki syntax without any specializations), and the framework around the pages. Personally, I think it would be more productive to use MediaWiki given the wider installation base (leading to more contributers who are already familiar with the wiki syntax), but I can understand why a Microsoft group would use their own wiki. Heck, I could even see the system using Trac, given that it’s gaining popularity among developers, and native svn support lends itself to very easy “Code Example” sections.

What about the more general issue of pattern organization?

Well… unfortunately, I am not quite as creative when it comes to this. For flexibility, it seems important that backlinks be auto-generated, so a page can be classified simply by “pages that link to this”. That way, arbitrary categories or sub-categories could be developed and modified simply by editing the category pages. Regardless of the actual categorization, that flexibility would be useful.