Home of The Tiny Guide to

Chandler Project High Level Vision

July 25th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

OSAF has outlined the high level vision of its Chandler PIM on the new project website. (Built using TWiki, incidentally.)

One particular goal that stands out to me is described as “Peeling the Onion: Process information iteratively. Define what an item is over time.” This would work very well for me, so I am looking forward to the Preview Release scheduled for August. And that’s just one of a long list of new workflow ideas that OSAF has built into Chandler.

The deep thinking behind Chandler’s development has revealed a number of problems with the way things are done today. Among the most intractable, “There is a basic assumption that information management tasks are binary. Are you Done or Not Done? Most productivity software fail to accommodate the iterative way people work with information and provide poor support for keeping track of everything in between TO-DO and DONE.”

And the overarching goal of OSAF is to redefine the way PIM-like software is used in today’s multi-project, multi-team working environments. “Our hope is that by modeling the user experience around how people work today and the substance of that work, we can be more than just another software tool and instead aspire to be a system for information management: A smarter way to work. A better environment for collaboration. And an addictive habit that’s hard to break.”

Wikis at Work: The Project

May 22nd, 2007 Benjamin Horst

This is the second in my series “Wikis at Work.” (See the first, about Christian Einfeldt’s Digital Tipping Point Project, here.) launched its wiki in November 2005, and it has quickly become one of the world’s most-used wikis. (Number 16 on the top-57 wikis list. This is much higher than my Wikipages at the moment, but we are growing fast!)

I recently added a page for Quick and Easy Marketing Additions to help new users find things they can do to help right away. This is an example of how fast and loose editing, wiki-style, can invigorate online projects, and in the case of OOo, it certainly is helping to bring many new, informal collaborators to the project.

In fact, many FOSS projects have come to the same realization, and you’ll find wikis for Apache, Debian, Ubuntu, OpenSuse, Java, and many more projects on that list.

Top 5 Extensions

May 14th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Dmitri Popov writes Extending Must-have extensions. introduced extensions, inspired by Firefox, in OOo’s post-2.0 versions. As the community begins to grow, interesting extensions are being developed to extend the suite. Popov’s five favorites covered in this article are the Annotation Tool, SVG Import Filter, OxygenOffice Professional, Tabbed Windows, and OOo.HG, a set of tools for working with vector maps.

These extensions and others are tracked on the wiki’s Extensions Repository.

There you’ll find an extension that Popov himself is working on, called QuasiWiki, which adds basic wiki functionality to OpenOffice Writer.

Wikis at Work: The Digital Tipping Point

May 9th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

This post is the first in a new series of “Wikis at Work,” in which I will highlight the real-world usage of wikis for community-building and project management websites.

The Digital Tipping Point is a documentary film project run by Christian Einfeldt. He is investigating the Tipping Point phenomenon (per Malcolm Gladwell) in the context of the ongoing shift from proprietary software and operating systems to open source software and operating systems.

The project makes heavy use of MediaWiki for online collaboration, including transcription, translation, video editing, and more. It is, to my knowledge, the first film made from a wiki.

Christian’s been working on this project for a few years now, putting in a lot of hours and much travel along the way. His hard work and spirit are the kind of traits that really make the open source community the success it is today.

TWiki for your Corporate Intranet

May 5th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Having run a company intranet during my days as GIS Analyst at the Chazen Companies in Poughkeepsie, NY, I ran into some of the problems inherent in a system that requires everything to go through one person: it’s hard to keep it all up-to-date, and it’s hard to keep the intranet in the forefront of people’s minds as a useful reference tool.

I believe the solution is to use a wiki, and for intranets, TWiki is an excellent choice.

In fact, that’s exactly what I am using today to manage the software specs I develop at my current job, which is indescribably better than the previous system of creating MS Word documents and FTPing them to a remote server. (No one remembers to download the latest version of the spec, so you’re all working from different information, and the files become huge and convoluted and impossible to maintain. Plus, we were using MS Word, and I much prefer OpenOffice Writer.) has a nice case study of Lost Boys, an internet design agency in Amsterdam, Europe, that has implemented a TWiki-based intranet with great success. They’ve only been using it for a month now, but it has already become indispensable.

wikiCalc 1.0!

January 29th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Dan Bricklin’s awesome wikiCalc has reached version 1.0!

He announces: “After over a year and a half of work (part-time), I’m finally releasing the wikiCalc web authoring system as a “1.0” product. This means it has a pretty complete set of features for producing the quality output for which it was designed, has been relatively stable for a period of time, and has a reasonable amount of documentation. People who have held off testing or using the product until this point should now start taking a look. This is the code that will be the starting point for the SocialCalc project.”


January 23rd, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Wikis have been one of my key interests for more than four years now, because they bring a new level of interactivity to websites and web-based communities.

My own hands-on project in the world of wikis is Wikipages, a wiki-based local business directory that currently focuses on New York City.

Over the past year, Wikipages traffic has grown steadily as it has been linked to by bloggers and bookmarking sites. Its listings have grown to include hundreds of businesses in the city, with a preponderance of restaurants and bars, but also realtors, chiropractors, photo labs, and even the occasional copy shop. But we’re also happy to list parks and museums and to include neighborhoods and special districts like Stone Street, at the heart of downtown Manhattan.

Wikipages should grow very quickly in 2007, and more contributors are always welcome!

TWiki Updated

January 22nd, 2007 Benjamin Horst

TWiki, a structured wiki especially strong and widely-used for organizational intranets, has just been updated to “Edinburgh”, or version 4.1.

The press release declares, “TWiki is the leading open source enterprise wiki platform, and a pioneer in the field of situational applications. TWiki extends the free-form world of wikis by adding structure. With TWiki, wiki content can be browsed, searched, grouped, categorized, filtered and restricted for limited access. TWiki looks and feels like a Web 2.0 web site, and can be easily modified through standard web browsers.”

BBC on OLPC ($100 Laptop Project)

January 2nd, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The One Laptop per Child project received positive coverage in the BBC news today.

More countries than I realized have joined the project, and they represent a wide geographic distribution: “The first countries to sign up to buying the machine include Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan and Thailand.”

Project founder Nicholas Negroponte was quoted, saying “I have to laugh when people refer to XO as a weak or crippled machine and how kids should get a ‘real’ one,” Mr Negroponte told AP.

“Trust me, I will give up my real one very soon and use only XO. It will be far better, in many new and important ways.”

And, further:

“One of the saddest but most common conditions in elementary school computer labs (when they exist in the developing world), is the children are being trained to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint,” Mr Negroponte said.

“I consider that criminal, because children should be making things, communicating, exploring, sharing, not running office automation tools.”

The XO’s operating system has abandoned the old UI paradigm of files and folders, instead moving to a wiki-like organizational structure based around the user’s “journal” in which all his or her data is stored. Having seen the trouble many users have with the computer folder metaphor, I am very interested in how the journal concept will fare, and I expect it to do well.

“OOoWikipedia for OOo2.0”

September 13th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Cool extension OOoWikipedia:

“OOoWikipedia allows you to use this famous encyclopedia directly from Simply highlight a word in a text portion, launch the tool and your browser will open the corresponding article in the encyclopedia, if the definition is available.”