The Big Cheese Moves

by pieterh on 26 Feb 2010 12:22

Over the last year we've been working, at Wikidot, on creating more general tools for building Wikidot-based applications. For me as CEO, applications was always the way to bring a mass audience to Wikidot. It's how Microsoft conquered the desktop, with Visual Basic for Windows. It's how Apple bit into the smartphone market. Gaming communities and Snow Leopard sites do create volume but it's superficial. They don't use Wikidot except for text and images, and they can pick up and leave in a second (and they do).

Rob Elliott explains how he's using the new Wikidot to create applications:

I am developing a series of project sites (plus website and intranet) for an African development company. The start page of each of the project sites is a dashboard showing info relevant to the project. But I wanted a way for the project manager to easily add a title and description of the project, but not by changing the page title or the site name The new data form functionality fits the bill very well indeed. In a bit of experimenting this week I have found that you can combine the data form with a number of other Wikidot features released this year to produce quite a powerful application.

I've spent the last eight months shuttling back and forwards between my home in Brussels and Wikidot, in Toruń, Poland. It's a long trip, twelve hours each way. We're expecting a baby (our third child), in August, and moving house in June.

At the same time, my work at Wikidot has pretty much become routine: we've fixed our internal processes, built proper issue tracking systems, written dozens of designs for future functionality, and assured that Wikidot has enough money to be stable and gently grow. My main job now has become to oversee development, and chat with the community, and it's really not enough for me.

Before joining Wikidot as CEO, I managed my software business, iMatix. I need to get back to that job, which is what pays my bills and feeds my ever growing family.

So I'm handing over to Michal, who founded Wikidot and is its main developer. He's also keen to get back into control of the project. Perhaps our visions may differ somewhat. My view of Wikidot has always been: build deep, powerful functionality that will let others create communities, who will call Wikidot their home forever. Wikidot applications, inevitably. Partly because I love building tools for application builders, and partly because that's always what I wanted for my own online communities. I am user number 99, and started using Wikidot in 2006 for Michal is perhaps more focussed on new users, and how they perceive the jungle that Wikidot has become. It is a common complaint, that Wikidot has become too complex, too chaotic. This is how I work, I love to see self-organization emerge from apparent chaos.

I'll still be around. All my web sites run on Wikidot and I'm involved in several large projects that want to use Wikidot as their application framework and are funding aspects like data forms. I'll do my best to help with the community, as part of the community, rather than a voice for Wikidot.

Thanks to the dozens, hundreds of you who helped me and my team push Wikidot through amazing changes over the last year. I always believed that our community was the key to making big things happen, and when I look at the many sites we built together, I'm glad to see I was right on this. Thanks! :-)

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