The natural evolution of corporate wikis, it turns out, is for them not to look like wikis at all.
While many companies benefit from having collaboration-driving wikis on their intranets, no one loves the blank white look of a traditional wiki.
Enter JotSpot 2, the latest version of one of the first corporate wiki solutions. Its pages now look like Microsoft Office apps, but they still offer the same robust collaboration tools that people expect from a wiki.
If the term is still a mystery to you, know that wiki.org defines a wiki as a piece of software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser.
Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly.
JotSpot has enjoyed some success since its first release: it’s now used by more than 30,000 users at more than 2,000 companies.
The product has gone graphic with this version, with pages that have become much more useful by conveying information visually (see screen shot 1).
The calendar page, for example, doesn’t simply list dates down the page. It now contains a graphic calendar view that lays your month out at a glance (see screen shot 2).
Because it’s still a wiki, users can click on any cell in the calendar to create a new event, set a duration, and make that event repeat.
The spreadsheet-page option likewise lets you create grid pages that behave just like spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel.
In fact, you can paste in entire charts from Excel to create a spreadsheet in seconds. Click on any cell in the chart to attach files or instantly view a calendar made from the dates within your spreadsheet data.
If you want to carry your wiki work into Excel, just export the spreadsheet to your desktop and open it in Excel. Working between the two is that easy.
The new photo page option lets users view their uploaded photos gallery style, rather than viewing a list of links to stored photos.
You can also view a slideshow of the photos, or upload new photos in bulk by selecting a folder.
Several interface improvements in version 2 make JotSpot easier to use. It’s hard to get non-technical people to embrace a wiki, so it needs to be as easy as possible.
Sharing — or not sharing — your pages is simple with the new Sharing button on the top right of every page.
Click it to set the sharing options for anything you create, so that everyone can see the page, only you can see it, or only selected users only can see it.
Paid JotSpot users have one additional option, letting the pubic at large see the page (for Internet pages, for instance).
The developers have also made it simpler for people to create links in JotSpot 2. The process of creating a link can be confusing for some people, so this version has a Link button prominent among the wiki editing controls.
Click it and you can choose to see a list of every page within the wiki, so that you can create a link to the one you want.
The price of JotSpot is lower now than when it was introduced, and it’s an especially good deal for small groups.
There’s now a free option, allowing groups of up to 5 people to create wikis with up to 10 pages. You can see the rest of the pricing options here.