Monday, July 14, 2008

Another Spiffy Wetpaint Feature

I've long been a fan of the Wetpaint wiki platform. I was originally drawn to it because it is one of the only wikis that creates visually appealing websites. Often, when I have a need for a wiki, I turn to them because their feature set is good and the wiki is so easy to use.

My family is planning a trip to New Zealand. Unfortunately, most of the planning will be done with me in Singapore and the rest of them in the USA. Right from the start, I thought this was a great use for a wiki, but other family members thought Google Docs would be easier. A few weeks ago I started a number of documents and shared them, but we've had lots of trouble with permissions and people needing to sign up for Google. (That seems to be a change. Last fall I was able to invite people who didn't have Gmail accounts to edit Google documents and they were successful. Now it wants my family members to create Google accounts to view or edit the documents.)

Last night, tired of the hassles, I set up a private Wetpaint wiki. Since it is private, my family members will need to sign up with Wetpaint, but that is quick and easy and ends right there.

As I copied the pages over, I was amazed to discover...
  • Graphics in my Google docs copied right into the wiki. No need to upload and insert them.

  • When websurfing, I could highlight diagrams from the internet and copy them directly onto the wiki. They came in as images so formatting was preserved.
In both cases, a message appeared briefly on the screen informing me that the item was being reformatted and then Voilá! It was there looking great.

I only encountered two problems. The first was when copying Google Docs tables. They did copy legibly, but not attractively. The second was with tables in Wetpaint. Unlike other wikis, I wasn't able to add a new row by tabbing. As a result, I decided to make lists for our to-dos instead of handy tables.

My mom and I worked a bit later than everyone else and already the wiki was proving useful as we captured airfare searches, flight time tables and other useful bits of info. The pages are quickly turning into a mishmash of data. They aren't pretty with all the fonts and colors from different web sites, but they are a goldmine of useful info.

What wiki platform are you using? Is it meeting your needs? What features doesn't it have that you'd like to see?