Doku vs. Custom App

In this post I will compare DokuWiki with the custom web app I have been designing.

For the last few weeks I have stopped editing the NSV and have been working on a web app which is intended to allow me to edit the NSV and allow people to read it online.

I almost finished it before I realized I already had what I was looking for, more or less, in DokuWiki.

Reasons why DokuWiki is better than anything I could write:

  1. Since it’s in flat text I can back it up more easily. OTOH I already have to backup the wordpress database, so it might not matter so much. Still, +1 for Doku.
  2. Interestingly enough I don’t need to write a search box since Doku can already search inside of a namespace.
  3. I also don’t need to write any converters (yet). Any converter I can write would just have taken the text from the flat text format it is on the Doku and put it in the DB; so we can just consider the Doku format as standard.
  4. Doku already has plugins and features which will allow me to create view pages out of two or more data pages (ex. create a bible+commentary veiw). These don’t work inline; I won’t be able to make an inline interlinear directly, but I could write a converter for it.
  5. In general everything I could write is either in Doku already or I could just use Doku as a source for it.
  6. In the exception that I don’t want users interfacing with Doku — even a dedicated doku just for this project — reformatting for another site could be done via a converter.
  7. Or when it matters and is convenient someone else can write the UI.

The basic idea came about when I realized that having the pages in a standard format (one verse per line, or one chapter per page, or otherwise) would allow me to just write whatever converter (re-formatter) I would need to get the text into a different format for editing. Like if I wanted to superscript every verse number, this could be done with a simple program, maybe even a shell script — maybe even with a single line of awk or sed or something. Then this could be put into HTML, then this could be imported into LibreOffice or some other word processing program.

So there’s no reason to code any kind of editor since we already have Doku.

The next consideration was, what is the actual problem with having people access the material in a Doku? Doku is, in fact, a content distribution medium; something people consume content on. What is the point of rewriting that if we already have DokuWiki? Or, something better — but for now, DokuWiki?

What is the point of writing an app if people can access it via the internet? Well, if the project is viable there is some merit in an offline version.  Then again, this could be done via PDF. PDF readers have navigation and search capabilities too.

So it seems braindead to write a web app, at least for now, when the project itself still has so much work to do. I don’t need to sit on my butt all day coding. I could be sitting on my butt editing the NSV instead.

Editing Workflow

The next big thing then is going to be editing workflow. Using the include plugin, wrap plugin and other plugins, I should be able to get a basically decent view per-page. I don’t know exactly how I want to lay it out but it is going to be a relatively simple thing to do, moving things into a WRAP tag or whatever, later on. It might even be simpler than that. People can also have two web pages open in a split view. iPad has this covered natively. On windows, hold down the windows key and use the arrows to move windows around in a tiled space. So having a split view is not that difficult but having users do this is a little difficult.

Reader’s Version

So then how will it be presented? First there’s Doku; then laying it out in a PDF (even one which is intended to be used to print a book copy from). These are not difficult tasks. The point being, far be it from me to code anything for this project. The most difficult thing should be how I collect payments. Friends don’t let friends use paypal, so we will need some sort of online shopping cart, maybe hooked up to our bank somehow, but not via paypal. This is probably going to be a minor concern. It’s not difficult to accept money online these days, the danger is going to be in the fees.

For now?

For now the important thing is just to get the NSV ready in a readable and usable condition. None of this programming stuff or payment or business stuff really matters right now. That seems to be the sum of things.

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