Wiki With Trails

(Proposed by SteveHowell.)

If you are supporting a product, you can put user documentation on a wiki, so that all of your advanced users can easily modify inaccuracies and add elaborations upon more subtle concepts of your product.

On the other hand, new users need to have their hand held when they go through the documentation. The Sun Java documentation has a notion of trails, which I think should be supported on certain wikis. You should be able to write a wiki page that acts as a TrailPage, and if the trail becomes enabled, all pages on that trail show the trail table-of-contents in a left hand pane, as well as previous/next links. Most new users would move sequentially through your trail, although all other wiki navigation mechanisms would still work as per normal.

You should be able to turn off the trail mechanism if you are surfing in more of a WikiWalking sort of mode. Any page could be made into a TrailPage at any time by adding a TrailPage tag to the top. Any time you visit a TrailPage, you should be able to make its trail be the current trail.

Most trail pages would specifically advertise themselves as trail pages, and they would consist of a bullet list of links with some text underneath. But, the only true requirement for being a trail page is that you contain the TrailPage tag and at least two WikiNames in a bulleted list somewhere on the page.

There should be a many-to-many relationship between trail pages and trailee pages.


Let's say there was a wiki with the following pages:

	AdvancedDataStructures?
	HowToProgramInCee?
	HowToProgramInJava?
	HowToProgramInCpp?
	HowToProgram?
	HowToFindaJob?
	WhereToFindCoolJavaJobs?

One user might make a GetaJavaJobTrail?:

	TrailPage
	HowToProgramInJava?
	HowToFindaJob?
	WhereToFindCoolJavaJobs?

Another user might make a BecomeVersatileProgrammerTrail?:

	TrailPage
	HowToProgram?
	HowToProgramInCee?
	HowToProgramInCpp?
	HowToProgramInJava?
	AdvancedDataStructures?

Possible Implementation

Here are random bits of pseudocode that would implement a trail scheme as described above.

 if page_served contains TrailPage tag
	all WikiNames on own bulleted line get put into numbered list
	store trail cookie to user

when serving page do-normal-page-stuff if user-has-cookie-for-trail and our page is on trail (prolly just read Trail page, could be cached) then add-trail-stuff-in-left-pane endif


Steve,

Isn't this is sorta implemented in MicroSoft InternetExplorer? The page holder feature allows me to load RecentChanges in the left hand panel and every link I click on opens the page in the right hand panel. It could also be done with *gasp* frames (which has been deprecated for how many centuries??).

I didn't know about the MS feature, but it sounds somewhat similar to what I want. I'm anti-frames too.

Of course this doesn't help the people with other browsers, so I'm in support of your trail concept. If I can help out, let me know. ~SO.

Like your idea of creating trails for particular interests. In a perfect world, DocumentMode is supposed to do that, but any active topic never seems to get to DocumentMode.

Not sure I see the connection.

It's just that when pages get popular, ThreadMode is the result. It's only after the thread calms down that a WikiMaster distills it to DocumentMode. For example, the exchange below. It was threadmode, but now it's closer to a WikiTrail.

Proposed names for trail pages:

I was doing this over at zwiki.org but gave it up.

The new http://zwiki.org/WikiLine is related, any thoughts ? --SimonMichael


The idea is fine but, to me, the terminology is a little confusing: a trail is, for me, something I leave behind (e.g. trail of bread crumbs to find way out of the woods, string to find way out of the maze). Within the context of other wikis (e.g. OpenWiki) it's also pages visited. Is your idea of a trail different than a RoadMap - places to go and see (not where you've been)? Sounds the same, but perhaps with on/off mode?

I like the trail (visited) as you can jump right back to a topic without repeatedly hitting the back-button. I love the idea of RoadMaps as they provide hand-holding for newbies (and aid navigation for oldies :). The RoadMap - constructed by people for the good of others - can easily provide multiple views (domains?) of the same chunks of information/knowledge which is nice too. Kind of like TopicMaps, but simpler.


The term trail is right (if I understand what is being proposed).

A trail to me means the path worn by others when traveling over open land -- an urban park, a mountain trail. By moving over the same ground, the trail becomes stronger. Jumping off the trail and taking or making another path is still an option.


CategoryWiki

EditText of this page (last edited July 29, 2005) or FindPage with title or text search

Meatball