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Wikindx facilitates academic writing in a browser

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 134.220.244.41] on June 04, 2008 08:38 AM
Firstly, thank you very much Frank for your positive review on my software WIKINDX.

A couple of points you might be interested in:

1. The author states: "Exporting the paper from Wikindx also locks the online version of the paper. Subsequent views will list the paper but will not allow editing. If you desire to re-edit the paper, you have to click the save button and save it with the same or different name."

That shouldn't be the case and I haven't heard of that behaviour before. I've just tested this on the wikindx test drive and it performs as I expect: create a paper, save it, open it from the list, edit it and the next save keeps the same name and writes over the previous version of the file unless you choose to rename it.

2. As the author of this article has also written an article on Moodle, you may be interested to know that there is a Moodle filter for WIKINDX: http://moodledev.yeovil.ac.uk/moodle/course/view.php?id=2.

3. The author doesn't mention bibtex and Endnote bibliography imports which, if you already have bibliographies in those common formats, dramatically reduces the time taken to populate the wikindx.

4. Users are not limited to the pre-supplied bibliographic styles, administrators can create new styles.

5. I write in both technical and humanities styles. In the latter, e.g. APA, context-sensitive in-text citation formatting is one of the major strengths of the word processor. For example, wikindx recognizes that authors' names have already appeared in a sentence in which the citation has been added and will not add the name(s) to the citation. Wikindx will recognize the author has been cited previously in the paper and, if the style requires it, will use ibid, op cit etc. in footnotes or endnotes. Just some examples of the context-sensitive citation formatting.

6. Wikindx has a plug-in system allowing users to write and add plug-ins in PHP to extend wikindx's functionality. A variety of plug-ins already exist including PubMed search/import.


Responding to a couple of the posts here:

1. The paper does not use a textarea, it uses an iFrame which is probably why the firefox spell-checker does not work. It relies on the Midas engine in the Firefox and other browsers (not Opera and some versions of Konqueror) so in many respects I am limited as to the functionality that can be supplied.

2. I have racked my brains about autosave. If anyone can come up with the answer, please let me know (contact via my sourceforge email on the SF wikindx site please).


Wikindx development proceeds but, as I now have a real job instead of having plenty of time to work on wikindx while doing my PhD, the pace has slowed somewhat (wikindx has also matured since I started it over 4 years ago). I'm hoping to do some work on a v4 over summer (European) and hope to make the following changes:

Main:
1. Update to PHP5.
2. Add a more sophisticated templating engine such as Smarty.
3. Make wikindx far more modular than it currently is and, in the main download, include only the core functionality, off-loading other functionality (e.g. the word processor) to plug-in modules. I'm hoping this will encourage more plug-ins to be developed and it will also ease the load on translators who need only localize the core messages.

Potential:
1. Search/import across multiple wikindices.
2. Allow multiple authors to author the same paper.
3. Allow for a choice between WYSIWYG paper views and more Latex structural views.
4. Export to more formats such as PDF, TeX.
5. Add some AJAX functionality.
6. Full-text searches through attachments.


I am only one person -- though I have had help through the years, approx. 95% of the programming is my work. I have less time to work on wikindx these days and future expansion will start moving into areas in which I lack expertise. Adding multiple authoring to papers is a case in point. I suspect it will use some pure wiki technology -- rollbacks, contributor comparisons etc. -- with which I am unfamiliar. Same for TeX and PDF outputs and AJAX integration. I always welcome developers with open arms to this open source project. If you feel you can help, please contact me through my SF address on the project website.

Thanks,

Mark Grimshaw

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