When setting up the development/project environment for the new project, my PM and I were discussing what to do for document collaboration.  We both were thinking we'd use SharePoint for the document repository.  But I mentioned this to a co-worker who has to live within SharePoint for his entire project, and he said "NO!"

Jess Tedder recommended using a wiki for our collaboration.  A few months ago, Jess presented FlexWiki to our intra-company users' group.  It seemed pretty cool, and he said he was starting to use it for requirements documents.  I thought my PM would poo-poo the idea, but I mentioned it to him, just for kicks.  He thought it was an intriguing idea.  So off I went to install it.

A few weeks later, we absolutely love our wiki!  We are finding that writing documentation on the wiki feels an awful lot like writing code -- it's addictive, very addictive.  Within a week, we had probably 50 pages of documentation on the wiki.  Now keep in mind we're in the requirements gathering phase of the project, so requirements are coming in fast and furious.  After 2 weeks, we probably had over 100 pages of documentation on the wiki, including coding standards, application design, all requirements documentation, meeting notes, contact information, and just about anything else you could think of -- even chat logs that were worth archiving.

So, if you're starting a new project, I would highly recommend using a wiki for your collaboration tool.  It's fun and it makes you want to document.  I'm sure the honeymoon will wear off, but I think we're off to a great start on the project and I think the wiki has a lot to do with that.

Also, our wiki configuration is a little unusual, but it seems to be working very well.  Here's how it's set up:

  • File system based storage
  • Anonymous access to the wiki is disabled in IIS
  • Windows security configured on the wikibases folders:
    • Read permission to users (not everyone)
    • Write permission to the project team group
  • The Requirements folder has specialized security:
    • Read permission to users
    • Write permission to the project manager group

FlexWiki did a great job of understanding windows-based security for the wiki files.  This configuration allows anyone on the domain to read the wiki, but only members of the project team can edit topics.  And within the Requirements topic, only the project manager group (1 person) can edit the topics.  This will force all changes to the requirements to go through the PM.  But for extra flair, we created a WIPRequirements namespace that mirrors the Requirements namespace, but all project team members can make changes.  This gives us a change control process for updating the requirements.  Update the WIPRequirements, inform the PM, the changes are reviewed, and if accepted, copied to the Requirements namespace.

And yes... our wiki configuration is posted as a wiki topic with step-by-step instructions for getting it configured correctly.  Gosh I love our wiki!