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February 9, 2005 / jnolen

SocialText launches v1.5

As noted here, SocialText has launched the next version of its software. It adds some awfully cool features but opens up a few questions.

I'll start with the questions:

LDAP Integration. The blog announcement tells me that the new version offers LDAP integration. However, I can't find any mention of it on my demo site or in the help site. Or on the main product site itself, for that matter. I'm guessing that the LDAP integration only works in the appliance version of SocialText. But still, as an potential customer in an evaluation period, I still need to know exactly how it works and how deep it goes. For example, our current wiki only offers very rudimentary LDAP support (it can check LDAP for passwords, but that's all). We're hoping for much more than that in the future.

Now on to the juicy new features:

Instant message integration. This totally rocks; at least in concept. In execution, it doesn’t go quite far enough. I can make a link in a wiki page (like this: aim:jonathannolen) and it will put a little AIM icon next to my name that indicates whether or not I am online. And if you click the link, then you get a new AIM window with a message to that person. This also works for Skype, Yahoo! Messenger and Convoq ASAP (never heard of it either).

All well and good. But I would have implemented it slightly differently. It seems it would be more appropriate to store this IM information in the user’s profile, and whenever that user’s name appears have the IM icon precede or follow it. I don’t like that I have to make a special link to take advantage of this feature. Better yet, you could have something like this:

Jonathan Nolen (+)

The name goes back to my profile page, and the more icon pops up a list of other contact links: AIM, Skype, email, et al. But I love the idea of integrating more with IM. I wish our wiki did that.

RSS Integration Socialtext now offers RSS integration to some degree. Several pages in the wiki (like “recent changes” and the blogs) have RSS feeds now. Also, you can bring in RSS feeds from other places. Both of these are necessary features. However, I think that every page should have its own RSS feed — not just those pages which are updated in list-like mode — and those feeds should update with every change.

However, for these features to be most useful, someone is going to have to solve the problem of how to represent wiki pages updates in RSS. (See Jeremy Zawodney’s post on exactly this topic.) Confluence has done a great job of this in the browser (see here), but no one has done it very well in the context of a feed.

Technorati integration. You can pull in Technorati searches into Socialtext wiki pages. I’m not sure where I’d use this feature, but it seems pretty cool.

Ping service. This should be a standard feature on all wiki pages. Unfortunately, it appears that this is only available for SocialText “Eventspace” customers. But at least it’s as step in the right direction. Wikis should be participating in the blogsphere on an equal footing, and that means RSS/Atom, pings, trackbacks and all of the other cool blog-linking and -finding tools. And on that note….

Tagging. Socialtext also build it tagging to this release. I’ll readily admit that I haven’t fully grokked tagging yet. It sounds kind of cool, but I’m not sure how I’d use it. I definitely need to read more on this point. But I wanted to mention the feature.

All in all, a feature-packed release, although it lists a little toward the geeky side. My manager is really not going to care about RSS integration. But that’s fine. I hope the SocialText guys continue to make such rapid progress.


  1. David / Feb 9 2005 5:00 pm

    “Confluence has done a great job of [showing differences] in the browser”
    I beg to differ. Confluence has a nice diff display for the markup. For anybody who doesn’t like to read raw markup, this is between annoying and useless. Some of the comments on Jeremy’s post point to other Wikis doing nice side-by-side diffs even in RSS, but they might suffer the same problem (I can’t tell from the comments).
    The problem is related to the fact that a “cvs diff” of a Word document isn’t helpful. When trying to keep up with changes in a website content, you don’t care how the markup or source code changed… You want something like Word’s track changes, or maybe redlines in the margin. I think the problem may be that a “what changed” view needs to be dynamic: you need to be able to click to show just new content, new and old side by side, old text crossed out and new text highlighted, and sometimes differences in the markup and formatting too. This dynamic nature is not suited to RSS — and even having flags in the RSS feed URL is not a good substitute since you want to flip back and forth between the views.

  2. David / Feb 9 2005 5:03 pm

    See this article for some help groking tagging:
    Steal This Bookmark! ( )

  3. Ludovic Dubost / Feb 11 2005 4:05 pm

    Hi Jonathan,
    Concerning Instant Messenging integration, I agree with you about the need for storing an IM info in the user profile.
    This is the choice I made for XWiki for the IM integration:
    For example for my IM I do: #im(“XWiki.LudovicDubost”)

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