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March 26, 2007

Offline Wikis

Offline Wiki: Yeah, I've always wanted one too. I think the technical problems are all solvable, but there is one sticking point. First, I don't think using an web server or database are necessarily a bad thing, especially since there are a couple of embeddable solutions now. For example, I wrote a desktop application that used Jetty and Derby. It was really easy and quite cool because I could then extend the application on the web due to the existing architecture. In fact I think this is the solution to desktop rich clients, but that's an entry for another time.

My solution would embed a web server, database and browser in a desktop app. The web server and database would host a popular wiki solution [mediawiki.org], but with a modified backend to account for syncing. The desktop app would run a background task to poll for the server to sync to. If a connection could be established then the sync would take place. This is where the magic happens. I'm no diff expert so I think the backend modifications would have to be packaged as discrete transactions. Probably something like a series of patches, like I said I'm no diff expert.

It might be a little more restrictive and disallow fine-grained content control, but I think the transactions should work at the paragraph level. For example, if a user modifies a page by adding a paragraph of text then the transaction would be something like

add paragraph_id=p3
before paragraph_id=p1
after paragraph_id=p2
content=...

So the content page would become something more structured. This leads to something even better. As long as structure is imposed we might as well throw in some metadata to form a semantic document. Uh oh, I just made the leap from personal wiki to collaborative semantic wiki.

Posted by Guy at 8:05 AM | Permalink

March 9, 2007

Google Desktop + Microsoft BCM = Sucks

I just updated my Google Desktop to version 5.1.0703.05398-en-pb and guess what? Yep, that's right it crapped out Outlook with the stupid Business Contact Manager error message on launch:

Business Contact Manager for Outlook could not complete your last action or actions. Please try again.

This results in BCM not being available, which screws with my contact manager (address book). The solution? Just disable both the Google Add-In and COM Plugin (Tools » Options » Other » Advanced Options... » Add-In Manager... and COM Add-Ins...). Just uncheck both Google things and you can use BCM again. I wonder if this means Google Desktop won't index my mail?

Posted by Guy at 7:59 AM | Permalink