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Making wikis talk the same language doesn’t always make sense

For the past several years, the team of volunteers I work with has put together a “Conference Sneak Peek” webcast, designed to inform those who already plan to attend, and entice those who have not decided, about the annual conference.  It also forces us to focus on our own plans, and along the way find little ambiguities that large complex events tend to create.  I have already blogged about the webcast under the title “A preview of a preview of the ASUG conference and Sapphire U.S. 2009.” A comment to that post led me down the path of software incompatibility.  We’ve all been there.

The request was simple enough – since the webcast is open to non-ASUG members, could I post the agenda in a place where anyone could read it?  One could then decide a little more intelligently whether to join the call.  Easy enough, I thought, I’ve done this before. Copy the wiki page on the ASUG site to a wiki page on the SCN site.  I would use a sandbox wiki space for the content, since it is only needed for a short time.

I copied the content to Agenda – 16-Apr-2009 webcast and it looked like it worked – links were underlined, bullets looked good.  But when I saved the page and looked again, I realized it only partly copied the content.  HTML links were gone, some of the formatting was a little different, though it didn’t look that bad.



When I thought a little bit, I remembered that the ASUG site had an software upgrade from version 2 to version 2.5 a few months back.  Prior to that, I was able to use the identical “wiki markup language” that the SCN wiki has.  When I had first started learning to use the wiki tools, I detested the language, because I thought it was a dumb cross between real HTML markup, and just plain text, with disadvantages of both.  But after hacking at it for a few months, I became comfortable enough that when ASUG started using the same software, I was able to teach people simple shortcuts easily.

Version upgrade?  It’s good for you!

(Those who know Weird Al Yankovic, think about the lyrics to Albuquerque here)  The ASUG software upgrade tossed out all of the wiki markup that worked before, leaving me with a text editor that I would not call Rich, and a full HTML editor (as far as I know it’s full) that I may be the sole user of.  Table markup would be entered using vertical bars (“|”), with header rows being two vertical bars (“||”).  Copying from one wiki site to another preserved those format commands intact, meaning it looked the same on both sides.  Transports between universes! 

After the upgrade, new “features” became available, and the old way of simply throwing a table together vanished.  Now I call up a menu, suspiciously like an MS Word table create screen, that asks for rows, columns, and other data, but creates a table header with funny colors (funny to me, as they don’t render plainly) with no option to skip them.

Other people don’t see these as impediments, since “so many new features” are available.  Well, I suppose, but anything that slows me down creating and editing a wiki is not a good feature.  I’d call it a bug.


Workaround – Go West young man

Since I was losing the battle to keep the sites content in synch with wiki markup, and HTML markup was available on the “source” side, I thought maybe I could take the HTML and drop it in the SCN wiki.  The editor might be smart enough to interpret the tags on the fly.  No, it isn’t.  I ended up with all of the tags visible, which is interesting to some but probably unappealing to the general public.

Then I decided to use the SCN tool that allows HTML (this blog).  I would write about the issue, grab the source from the ASUG site, open the HTML blog editor, and paste it.

How does it look? I think it is acceptable — the links are preserved; tables and bullets seem to have copied correctly.  A few excess slashes or backslashes stand out and can be easily ignored.  It is not worth the trouble to clean them up, as a new original source would clobber those changes.

And of course, as soon as I copied and pasted the text below the horizontal rule, the original page changed.  We found the Community Lounge session times were wrong, not to mention other embellishments sure to occur between now and Thursday.



We have a preview webcast on 16-Apr-2009.  Rather than all-slides, this year, the agenda is here in the ASUG wiki.


Introduction / Agenda


  • Community Facilitators
  • Special Interest Group and Program Chairs
  • Agenda Builder live demo
  • Questions / discussion / web chat


Return on Investment

  • Justify your travel
  • Plan your conference activities for year-round payback
  • Where to meet


Best Practices

  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Bring an empty water bottle — refill at water fountains
  • Don’t print slides, download to a laptop and conserve paper
  • Car pool from the airport
  • If you can’t walk and don’t want to wait for the bus – call a Bike Taxi


Schedule at a Glance


Monday May 11, 2009


9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Pre-Conference Session(s) – All day
8:30 AM – Noon Pre-Conference Session(s) – Half day
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM Pre-Conference Session(s) – Half day
7:30 PM – 9:00 PM ASUG Welcome and Networking Reception


Tuesday May 12, 2009


8:30 AM – 10:00 AM Keynote
10:30 AM – 11:30 AM Education Session 1
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Education Session 2
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM Education Session 3


Wednesday May 13, 2009


10:30 AM – 11:30 AM Education Session 4
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Education Session 5
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM Education Session 6


Thursday May 14, 2009


9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Education Session 7
10:30 AM – 11:30 AM Education Session 8
Noon – 1:00 PM Education Session 9


Networking and Community Opportunities


BITI @ The ASUG Community Lounge



8:00 AM – 9:00 AM

Environment and Sustainability – BITI & Mobile Technologies SIG
Wednesday 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM Data Governance SIG
Wednesday 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM Integration Technologies & E-Business (ITEB)
Wednesday 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Security SIG: Security SIG Round Table

9:00 AM –

10:00 AM

Archiving and Information Lifecycle Management SIG: Archiving and ILM Open Forum



Pre-conference event highlights





  Community Facilitator – ?


Archiving and Information Lifecycle Management
Data Governance
Development Technologies
Integration Technologies and E-Business (ITEB)
Mobile Technologies

Software Quality Assurance
Systems Management
Workflow and Business Process Management



Agenda Builder Example / Demo


Agenda Builder




The Rosetta Stone


Food and Beverages at a glance




7:30pm — 9:00pm  ASUG Welcome and Networking Reception



9:30am — 11:00am  Morning Break – note: food and beverage will not be available until the morning break.

11:30am — 2:00pm  Lunch

Dinner – You’re On Your Own




9:30am — 11:00am  Morning Break – note: food and beverage will not be available until the morning break.

11:30am — 2:00pm  Lunch

Dinner – You’re On Your Own

8:00pm — 11:00pm  SAP Celebration Night




9:30am — 11:00am  Morning Break – note: food and beverage will not be available until the morning break.

11:30am — 1:30pm  Lunch




Advance Program


Twitter Hashtag: #ASUG09

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