Using Wikis for Documenting Other Web Applications

The Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology is working on a new survey tool, called Skylight Matrix Survey System. The application has context-sensitive help links on each page of the application. Those links were planned to go to a web-based help system.

Rather than write such a system, we have adopted MediaWiki as our engine (see the site here) and have found the following benefits:

  • Application authors can write links to non-existant help pages, which other developers can follow and add text.
  • Help authors can create pages that support the context-help pages, but are not referenced by the application.
  • Help can be organized with multiple indexes (categories) and indexes can cross-reference on another.
  • MediaWiki tools can help the authors, by identifying short pages, requested pages, and otherwise helping authors locate where work is needed.
  • MediaWiki templates can be used by authors to ensure that the same language is inserted into each place it is needed.

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