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Working together with the Wiki

Liferay’s Wiki portlet, like the Message Boards portlet, is a full-featured wiki application which has all of the features you would expect in a state of the art wiki. Again, though, it has the benefit of being able to take advantage of all of the features of the Liferay platform. As such, it is completely integrated with Liferay’s user management, tagging, and security features.

So, what is a wiki? Basically, a wiki is an application which allows users to collaboratively build a repository of information. There are, of course, many implementations of this idea, the most famous of which is Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a full online encyclopedia developed collaboratively by users from all over the world, using a wiki. Another example would be Liferay’s wiki, which is used for collaborative documentation of the Community Edition of Liferay Portal.

A wiki application allows users to create and edit documents and link them to each other. To accomplish this, a special form of markup is used which is sometimes called wikitext. Unfortunately, the proliferation of many different wiki applications resulted in slightly different syntax for wikitext in the various products, as each new wiki tried to focus on new features that other wikis did not have. For that reason, a project called WikiCreole was started. This project resulted in the release of WikiCreole 1.0 in 2007, which is an attempt to define a standard wiki markup that all wikis can support.

Rather than define another wikitext syntax, Liferay’s Wiki portlet supports WikiCreole as its syntax. This syntax is a best-of-breed wiki syntax and should be familiar to users of other wikis. The portlet provides a handy cheat sheet for the syntax on the page editing form, with a link to the full documentation if you wish to use some of WikiCreole’s advanced features.

Getting Started with the Liferay Wiki

The Wiki portlet works just like the other portlets developed by Liferay. Add the portlet to a page using the Add → Applications menu and then click Configuration in the portlet’s Options menu in the Wiki portlet’s title bar. You’ll see some options are likely to be familiar to you by now such as sharing the application with websites, Facebook, Google Gadgets, etc. You will also notice that the communication tab has some additional options not seen in the other portlets.

05-wiki-configuration.png

Figure 9.23: For each of the public parameters in this portlet, it is possible to ignore the values coming from other portlets or to read the value from another parameter.

The communication tab of the configuration window allows you to configure communication across portlets, using predefined public render parameters. From here you can modify six public render parameters: categoryId, nodeId, nodeName, resetCur, tag, and title. For each parameter you can:

  • Ignore the values for this parameter that come from other portlets. For example, the wiki portlet can be used along with the tags navigation portlet. When a user clicks on a tag in the tags navigation portlet, the wiki shows a list of pages with that tag. In some cases an administrator may want the wiki portlet to always show the front page independently of any tag navigation done through other portlets. This can be achieved by checking the Ignore check box so that the values of the parameter coming from those other portlets are ignored.

  • Read the value of a parameter from another portlet. This is an advanced but very powerful option that allows portlets to communicate without configuring it beforehand. For example, imagine that the wiki portlet is used to publish information about certain countries. Imagine further that a custom portlet that allows browsing countries for administrative reasons was written and placed on the same page. We could associate to this second portlet a public render parameter called country to designate the name of the country. Using this procedure, we can cause the wiki to show the information from the country being browsed through in the other portlet. You can do this here for the wiki by setting the value for the title parameter to be read from the country parameter of the other portlet.

Once you have set the options the way you want them, click Save.

Managing Wikis

The Wiki portlet can contain many wikis. By default, it contains only one, called Main. To manage Wikis, navigate to your site’s Site Administration → Content page and select Wiki. This page allows you to add, modify, and delete wikis. The Main wiki has already been added for you.

At the top of this screen is a Permissions button. Clicking this allows you to define which roles have access to create wikis. If you have created a specific role for creating wikis, you can click the box in the Add Node column and then click Submit, and that role will have access to create new wikis in this portlet.

Clicking the Add Wiki button prompts you to enter a name and description for the new wiki. You can also set up some default permissions. When you create a new wiki, it appears in a list at the top of the main page of the Wiki portlet.

Next to each wiki in the list of wiki nodes is an Actions button. This button contains several options:

Edit: lets you edit the name and description of the wiki.

Permissions: lets you define what roles can add attachments to wiki pages, add pages to the wiki, delete pages, import pages to the wiki, set permissions on the wiki, subscribe to the wiki, update existing pages, and view the wiki.

Import Pages: allows you to import data from other wikis. This lets you migrate off of another wiki which you may be using and use the Liferay wiki instead. You might wish to do this if you are migrating your site from a set of disparate applications (i.e. a separate forum, a separate wiki, a separate content management system) to Liferay, which provides all of these features. Currently, MediaWiki is the only wiki that is supported, but others are likely to be supported in the future.

RSS: opens a new page where you can subscribe to an RSS feed using Live Bookmarks, Yahoo, or a chosen application from your machine.

Subscribe: allows you to subscribe to a wiki node, and any time a page is added or updated Liferay will send you an email informing you what happened.

Move to the Recycle Bin: moves the wiki node to the recycle bin.

View Removed Attachments: displays attachments that have been removed from the wiki node.

To go back to your wiki, navigate back to the Wiki portlet you added to your page. Then click the Options → Configuration button, which contains several other options which you may have seen on other portlets.

The Display Settings tab gives you several options for how the wiki should be displayed. Enable Related Assets, Enable Page Ratings, Enable Comments, and Enable Comment Ratings are similar to the same options in other portlets. They give you the ability to set how you want users to interact with wiki documents: a little, a lot, or not at all. The Display Template drop-down option lets you choose the application display template for your portlet. Below this, you can set which wikis are visible in the Wiki portlet by default and which are hidden. You might host two wikis on a given site, exposing one to the public and keeping the other private for site members.

The Email From, Page Added Email, and Page Updated Email tabs are similar to the ones for notification email settings for other portlets, allowing you to customize who wiki emails come from and the format and text of the email that is sent when a page is added or updated.

Finally, the Wiki portlet also supports RSS feeds as the other collaboration portlets do, and you can configure its options in the RSS tab.

Adding and Editing Wiki Pages

By default, there is one page added to your wiki, called FrontPage. To get started adding data to your wiki, click the Edit link. You will be brought to a blank editing page.

05-editing-wiki-page.png

Figure 9.24: By clicking Edit, you can create/modify your wiki content.

You can now begin to add content to the page. Notice that there is a very convenient Show Syntax Help link which can help with the wiki syntax. You can use this syntax to format your wiki pages. Consider, for example, the following wiki document:

== Welcome to Our Wiki! ==

This is our new wiki, which should allow us to collaborate on documentation. Feel free to add pages showing people
how to do stuff. Below are links to some sections that have already been added.

[[Introduction]]

[[Getting Started]]

[[Configuration]]

[[Development]]

[[Support]]

[[Community]]

This would produce the following wiki page:

05-wiki-front-page.png

Figure 9.25: By using the syntax help guide, you can format your wiki headings and text.

This adds a simple heading, a paragraph of text, and several links to the page. Since the pages behind these links have not been created yet, clicking one of those links takes you to an editing screen to create the page. This editing screen looks just like the one you used previously when you wrote the front page. Liferay displays a notice at the top of the page stating that the page does not exist yet, and that you are creating it right now. As you can see, it is very easy to create wiki pages. All you have to do is create a link from an existing page. Note that at the top of the screen you can select from the Creole wiki format and the HTML editor that comes with Liferay. We recommend that you stick with the Creole format, as it allows for a much cleaner separation of content and code. If you want all of your users to use the Creole format, you can disable the HTML format using the portal-ext.properties file. See chapter 14 for details about how to configure this.

At the bottom of the page editing screen, you can select Categorization to add tags. The tags link your wiki to categories. You can create categories using the Site Administration page, in the Content → Categories section. Categories are hierarchical lists of headings under which you can create wiki pages. This allows you to organize your content in a more formal fashion.

Page Details

When viewing a page, you can view its details by clicking the Details link which appears in the top right of the page. This allows you to view many properties of the page. There are several tabs which organize all of the details into convenient categories.

Details

The Details tab shows various statistics about the page, and also allows you to perform some actions on the page.

Title: displays the title of the page.

Format: displays the format for the page – either Creole, HTML, or MediaWiki.

Latest Version: displays the latest version of the page. The wiki portlet automatically keeps track of page versions whenever a page has been edited.

Created By: displays the user who created the page.

Last Changed By: displays the user who last modified the page.

Attachments: displays the number of attachments to the page.

Convert To: offers different conversion formats for the wiki page: DOC, ODT, PDF, RTF, SXW, and TXT.

RSS Subscription: displays links which allow you to subscribe to the page as an RSS feed in three formats: RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, and Atom 1.0.

Email Subscription: contains links allowing you to subscribe to the entire wiki or just to this page.

Advanced Actions: contains links allowing you to modify the permissions on the page, make a copy of the page, move (rename) the page, or move the page to the recycle bin.

History

This tab shows a list of all of the versions of the wiki page since it was created. You can revert a page back to a previous state and you can also compare the differences between versions by selecting the versions and then clicking the Compare Versions button.

Incoming/Outgoing Links

The next two tabs are for incoming and outgoing links. These are wiki links to and from the page. You can use this tab to examine how this page links to other pages and how other pages link back to this page.

Attachments

The last tab is for attachments. You can attach any file to the wiki. This is mostly used to attach images to wiki articles which can then be referenced in the text. Referencing them using the proper WikiCreole syntax renders the image inline, which is a nice way to include illustrations in your wiki documents.

Navigating in the Wiki Portlet

At the top of the portlet is a list of links which allow you to navigate around the wiki. Simply click on the wiki’s name to begin browsing that wiki. After this is a set of navigation links:

Recent Changes: takes you to a page which shows all of the recently updated pages.

All Pages: takes you to a flat, alphabetical list of all pages currently stored in the wiki.

Orphan Pages: takes you to a list of pages that have no links to them. This can happen if you take a link out of a wiki page in an edit without realizing it’s the only link to a certain page. This area allows you to review wiki pages that are orphaned in this way so that you can re-link to them or delete them from the wiki if they are no longer relevant.

Draft Pages: takes you to a list of pages which have not yet been published. Users can edit pages and save their changes as drafts. They can come back later to finish their page changes and publish them once they have been approved.

Search: allows you to a term here and click the Search button to search for items in the wiki. If the search term is not found, a link will be displayed which allows you to create a new wiki page on the topic for which you searched.

The Wiki portlet is another full-featured Liferay application with all of the features you expect from a state of the art wiki. Next, we’ll look at how Liferay handles live chat.

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