Today MindTouch announced new product capabilities for enhancing CMS and CCMS vendors like Astoria, DocZone, SDL LiveContent, Trisoft and IXIAsoft.
Better customer help, happier customers. HOW
Socialize existing publishing pipelines. WHAT
Replace PDF and static content outputs from current publishing pipelines with a social publishing endpoint.
XML and DITA based CMS’s have proven market value by decreasing the cost of authoring, maintaining and translating content. While powerful in lowering costs, CCMS platforms are publishing value laden content into obsolete pre-Web formats such as PDFs, static HTML and first generation knowledgebases.
End users’ expectations are higher than ever. Twenty year old static formats are still the primary mediums used today and these fail to meet the needs of end users. Recent studies (Greenfield Online, Datamonitor, Ovum Analysts and Genesys) estimate the failure to meet customers’ support needs is the primary cause of customer churn and this creates as much as $83 billion of annual losses caused by product abandonment. Read more…
Technical communication is currently suffering the side effects of a “social revolution” and is failing to evolve to the needs of the customer.
Industry leaders such as IXIAsoft, SDL with Trisoft and others have done an excellent job of innovating the ease in which companies can manage content. Focusing on XML authoring tools and Component Content Management Systems (CCMS) has provided tremendous value by lowering costs. In the fervor to lower the costs of technical writing and translation there is one stakeholder that has been overlooked; the customer.
The end user still has to crawl through PDF’s, sift through compiled HTML (.CHM) or static HTML sites and in many cases companies’ are still relying on disc media to get out the help and product content. Even when there is an online help site output from CCMS systems these take the form of an archaic 1984 knowledgebase, as if this is an improvement. The output from a CCMS, such as SDL Trisoft, should include a social engagement layer, effective search, feedback mechanisms and analytics for informing content, product and marketing strategy. Case in point: Autodesk, which is one of the many customers MindTouch has that have used MindTouch to provide a high value social layer atop their DITA XML publishing pipeline (SDL Trisoft in this case).
MindTouch provides the social publishing endpoint that your documentation needs to deliver for the needs and demands of your users. These days, users aren’t getting help the way they used to. By publishing your DITA and other documentation to MindTouch you can put curated help in the hands of your users. Read more…
Mark your calendar for this week’s Webinar Wednesday series, Using MindTouch Deki as a Content Management System, this Wednesday, January 21 at 11am(PST). This Wednesday one of our experts will take you through MindTouch Deki; starting off with the basics of using Deki and then focusing on a more specific topic (using MindTouch Deki as a CMS system) for the remainder of the hour (Q&A time also included in the hour). In this session you’ll discover how to:
Create and edit pages
Invite users and collaborate immediately
Connect your enterprise systems
Seize opportunities for your sales teams
Utilize the hundreds of pre-built social and enterprise extensions
Increase collaboration and efficiency within your enterprise
Create situational applications to provide intelligence for your business
Use Deki as a content management system
For more information and to RSVP for the Webinar visit our Webinar Wednesdays page. And if you have any additional questions about Webinar Wednesdays please email webinars (at) mindtouch (dot) com.
It’s the end of the year and everyone is publishing their top 10 lists. In this spirit, I thought I would do one too. The fact is MindTouch is so robust and feature rich there are very few people that fully grasp the power of the platform. Hence this list.
1. WOA. A Web Services Framework and Web Services Orchestration Engine
I have to start with this one because I’m often surprised with the notion that MindTouch is a wiki. Yes, there is a very polished “wiki-like” interface that exposes most, but not all, of the capabilities of the web services layer. Anything you can do through the “wiki-like” interface, and more, can be done through RESTful interfaces. In fact, every MindTouch page is an XML web service that is RESTful. We call this a Web Oriented Architecture (WOA). This has many profound and interesting benefits for developers and enterprise IT architects alike. To start with, you can extend the platform in any programming language. It is easily embedded into other applications and easy to connect other systems, web services and data sources. Also, many use MindTouch as a specialized application server for developing social or collaborative applications. A great public example of this is www.Shelfari.com. This was acquired by www.Amazon.com in mid-2008. Most importantly, while all other social and collaborative enterprise applications provide you with a walled-garden/point-application that forces you to adapt to their pre-defined workflow, MindTouch, with the WOA and DekiScript, allows you to adapt the platform to suit your workflow, needs and existing enterprise ecosystem and you don’t need an army of engineers to do this.
2. Agile Content Management System (CMS)
MindTouch makes a fantastic CMS. For an example, look no further than www.MindTouch.com. The fact is, websites are a collaborative effort and most often involve a team of people of varying degrees of technical acumen. Usability, content versioning, file/asset management, automatic page redirects and search are all aspects of content management for web publishing that MindTouch excels at. Moreover, MindTouch makes it easy to connect other systems and surface data from other properties and services. Indeed, MindTouch provides a high water mark for a social media enhanced website with automatic connections to video, blogging, photo sharing services as well as hundreds of other pre-packaged web services that are useful to website builders. Download and install the MindTouch CMS skin.
From a single MindTouch application host one can run many distinct instances of MindTouch. The largest such “farm” instance (that I know of) is the one MindTouch powers for MindTouch Express at www.wik.is where a single application host runs as many as 30,000 unique MindTouch MindTouch Express instances. There are many others that configure MindTouch in this manner. This is done by sub-licensors of MindTouch software, such as www.dekiwiki.jp and other hosting service providers, but also is common among large companies and organizations that want to minimize the cost to maintain and secure MindTouch. Specifically, this is a wonderful way to keep the smallest possible footprint, provides a single point to upgrade, patch, secure and configure, and allows auto-provisioning of MindTouch sites for projects, work teams, micro-sites, etc…
4. MindTouch Cloud
When MindTouch first launched the SaaS offering MindTouch Express (www.wik.is) we needed an infrastructure to help us maintain the “MindTouch Cloud”. We had already developed the multi-tenant capabilities in order to provide a cloud infrastructure and the WOA gave us significant benefits in scaling, but we needed an infrastructure to ease the complexity of managing hundreds of thousands of MindTouch instances. Hence, MindTouch Cloud. This is a “Cloud” management and analytics console that greatly improves administrators ability to manage a cloud of MindTouch instances. This makes provisioning, configuration, analytics, etc… a snap and is especially useful for companies and organizations running more than a few MindTouch sites.
5. Native SVG and Silverlight Support
That’s right, you can edit SVG and Silverlight natively with MindTouch. For that matter, with the built in syntax highlighting for about twenty programming languages you can present syntax highlighted code samples adjacent to working SVG and Silverlight. Among other things, this makes MindTouch uniquely suited for documenting SVG and Microsoft Silverlight; so, take note SVG W3C WG and Microsoft Silverlight team.
6. Multiple User Interfaces
The most complete user interface of MindTouch is a decoupled PHP client that provides the wiki-like interface most familiar to MindTouch. Beyond this there are also interfaces for the iPhone, Windows desktop (Winform) and Microsoft Office. Given the architecture of MindTouch being WOA (entirely RESTful) building new user interfaces is quick and easy.
7. Multi-Lingual Polyglot
This is a tough one to explain; so, I’ve embedded a video below that demonstrates the preponderance of this very innovative and unique capability. Suffice it to say, I’m not aware of any application that provides this kind of groundbreaking capability for internationalization and localization. Mozilla was a major impetus to the development of this functionality. The Mozilla Developer Center was able to be consolidated from 16 distinct Mediawiki instances into a single MindTouch instance that vastly improved how Mozilla community members from all over the World collaborate.
8. Powerful and Adaptable Search
MindTouch builds on the Apache Lucene search engine. While most other Enterprise 2.0 players are toiling with inadequate SQL searches, MindTouch sports a robust enterprise search engine that indexes MindTouch pages, tags, attached file metadata and the content of attached files. Moreover, Lucene has a rich query language that is easily abstracted by advanced search interfaces. For example, it’s trivial to provide a sophisticated experts search, product catalog search, support knowledgebase search and more. Finally, the search is so robust in MindTouch many customers use MindTouch to improve the search of other applications like Drupal, WordPress and other applications that rely solely on SQL search queries.
9. WordPress Plugin, Blogging and Forums
As mentioned above, many deployments of MindTouch are used to provide improved search for other applications. The most common example of this is WordPress by using the MindTouch WordPress plugin, which syncs content from WordPress to MindTouch. It’s generally recognized WordPress is the best blogging system there is. As such I generally recommend customers use WordPress. MindTouch has a plugin and shared authentication. With a custom skin the experience is seamless. See MindTouch.com for an example. Notice the content from WordPress aggregating on the home page and other pre-defined pages throughout the website and also the seamless experience of the corporate blog with the MindTouch powered site. However, there have been many DekiScript applications developed in MindTouch and one of these applications is blogging. This is not the full featured blogging one would expect from WordPress, but is well suited for Intranet blogging. On the topic of forums, MindTouch integrates nicely with vBulletin (undoubtedly the most popular forum system). Moreover, there is a DekiScript application for foruming in MindTouch. The general rule I communicate to MindTouch customers is: if you’re doing an external community I recommend WordPress and vBulletin with integration for the sake of the full blogging/forum capabilities (trackbacks, comment spam filtering, etc…), but if you’re looking for an Intranet solution the DekiScript built blogging and forums applications are perfectly suitable and capable.
10. Integrated Data Processing
MindTouch makes it easy to automate all sorts of usually complex, painful and time consuming things. Not least of which is the integrated ability to automate the extraction and processing of content from external sources. Specifically, with DekiScript or by point-and-click through the MindTouch Extension Manager, it’s a snap to read XML or JSON from URIs (external data sources and web-services) and process these in page. This makes MindTouch fantastic for creating dynamic pages without any external code. This is useful for both enterprise automation and social media automation. I’ve seen a lot of impressive things down with dashboards and reporting for the enterprise and also some really useful social media use cases.
Freedom of Open Platform
One of the many clear differentiators of MindTouch in the collaboration space is the platform approach MindTouch took in developing the product. MindTouch has been crafted to provide a platform that can be adapted to suit the needs and workflow of the existing enterprise infrastructure. All other players in the enterprise space have provided crude social apps that are very difficult, or impossible, to customize and extend. Other platform plays are closed and only play well in their own proprietary technology ecosystem, widening the knowledge divide in your organization instead of narrowing it. At MindTouch, we’ve taken a different approach. We’ve adhered to open standards and developed an open platform (WOA) that has consistently demonstrated a remarkably higher return on investment and a dramatically lower total cost of ownership
Deki CMS combines the strengths of both a wiki and a content management system ensuring ease of use, control, and great presentation for designers, writers and administrators alike. The CMS is a feature add-on to Deki Wiki which essentially transforms the extremely powerful wiki platform into a light weight CMS system. In addition, Deki CMS allows users to leverage a collaborative content management system for greater content growth and governance.
I created the first version of Deki CMS about 10 months ago to power the MindTouch public site. I developed the add-on because I was sick of using other content management systems and being let down. With other content management systems I wasn’t able to version my changes and I couldn’t see who was contributing what. I couldn’t do simple things like easily maintain url aliases or use templates throughout the MindTouch site. I also had problems with file attachments, in particular with storing design files. Oh yeah, and my content backup consisted of me yelling to Roy “Hey, save a copy of the database” and five minutes later “ok, revert the database.” I quickly realized that all these issues had already been solved and were the core competencies of a wiki.
Because Deki Wiki was so powerful and also such a great collaboration platform, I thought I’d try to bend the rules a little. I altered the wiki markup and placed all of the wiki functions in an easily accessible toolbar(create page, recent changes, hierarchical navigation, revision history, etc). I then made some more markup changes and hid the toolbar from anonymous users. Simply put, all site visitors see only the blank canvas of the wiki and all registered wiki users see the canvas and the toolbar.
Download at Sourceforge
Since my first release, I have made many major improvements. Deki CMS currently has revised SEO functionality, increased usability design, and drastically improved page load speeds. I’m going to continue improving the add-on but because it is one of my 20% projects, Deki CMS will not yet be supported or shipped with Deki Wiki. We have, however, decided to make Deki CMS publicly available for download. The files along with the instructions are available on SourceForge.