Friday, December 19, 2008

To Wiki or Not To Wiki

You might not believe this (due to the general lack of scenery system documentation) but I do spend some brain power thinking about X-Plane documentation for third parties!

Consider two approaches to documentation:
My question is: which of these approaches is more "readable" or "clear" to you as a third party? Each one (the formal website vs. the Wiki) has pros and cons, but I can't judge "usability" of the documentation myself.  Is it easier to find things on the website?  On the Wiki?  Comments welcome!

(I need to decide where to put future documentation, hence the question "which works better for those who read the documentation.)

7 comments:

AWC said...

I prefer the formal website-

Just easier to navigate and find what I am looking for quickly.

But that may just be me.

Wayne Conrad said...

Two reasons.

Mostly because a Wiki lends itself to collaboration. Even if the content is being produced by only one or a few people, you may benefit from one or a few trusted librarians organizing the content (or, if you believe in Ward's original wiki concept, the general public having at it).

Also, wikis tend to have a way to search the content.

Dan said...

Honestly, the differences are of little importance in my opinion, and it all boils down to which one is easier to work with and maintain.

That said, my personal favorite has to be the original site due to its straightforwardness, no unnecessary clutter and it's easy to read and navigate. The Wiki is by all means good too, but it could use some "air" between elements to make them stand out somewhat better. Both do what they are supposed to, and I could live with either...

Benjamin Supnik said...

These comments reflect my own thinking a bit...there is definitely something a bit "home made" looking about the Wiki - which is pretty damning considering that scenery.x-plane.com is no work of art. :-)

But I think I must consider this:
- How hard would it be to make the wiki as good as the site?
- How hard would it be to make the site as good as the Wiki?

scenery.x-plane.com is specifically styled - that is, I had to create style sheets and PHP for everything on it. My suspicion is: the wiki could look that good for an equal investment in time.

By comparison, the strengths of the Wiki are hard to reproduce with the formal site:
- easy collaboration
- easy reorganization
- much faster to create content

Perhaps I should play with some very basic style-sheet tweaks to the Wiki and see if it can't be improved a bit...

alpilotx said...

From my experience I would recommend going for the WIKI approach. Not only because it is nice for cooperation, but also because it is easier to maintain, fill with content, reorganize ... etc ... And the WIKI style of writing is closer to the final result. And your argument about the customizability of the two approaches (Wiki or own page) already shows, which might be easier ... (styling vs. functionality)

rhaselbacher said...

I prefer the wiki-style.

Benjamin Supnik said...

I am working on restyling the Wiki to look more like a "real" website.

Try setting your preferences->skins to the new "xplane wiki" - it looks like crud right now, but I have just about finished the skeletal work - that is, rearranging the document output to what I want.

Also, see the sandbox -- I got enough extensions in to do icon-style menus...