Still Simple

A community of international volunteers use a wiki to publish content to the high traffic agile manifesto. I found, having been asked to fix a mistake by a new Bengali volunteer, that the site still made sense six years later.

The twelve year old wiki's version history in Recent Changes still proves useful by being simple.

The translation project was launched by the Swede, Henrik Kniberg, and his SV translation has been used as an example in instructions given to new translators.

I wrote a couple of cgi scripts for publishing to the manifesto from pages authored in a private wiki and worked out the authoring, reviewing and publishing workflow with Henrik. This has been stable since this beginning six years ago.

Shane Hastie who now runs the project for the Agile Alliance pinged me for help cleaning up after a confused mistake by a new translator.


One of the translators overwrote the SV pages with Bengali content instead of copying the pages. Please could you restore the SV pages to before the Bengali content was put into it. Many thanks.

To revert these changes I clicked on the versions link in Recent Changes, selected the version from 5 years ago, copied that text and pasted it over the existing pages using the usual wiki edit box. The Bengali content I just overwrote can still be found in this same history.


I had a little trouble even remembering where this wiki was. I found the canned email we send to new translators which had necessary details.

I thought I might have to recover files from the backups my co-location provider makes for me. But no, the history was all in the wiki with diffs to identify the desired version.

I clicked to find the desired five year old version as a flat file rendered as plain text. What could be simpler?

This wiki is pretty much exactly what Bo Leuf's and I described in our 2001 book, The Wiki Way. amazon

I probably wrote 50 lines of script to turn wiki into this international collaborative publishing system.

I wonder, with all of the web machinery available today, could I build a more durable system, one that would work unattended for so many years, and one that I could guess how it works even when dredged up from deep memory?

I've tried to make federated wiki this simple too. Its editor is more complex for sure. And its sharing and history mechanisms are unfamiliar. But at its core it moves flat files around. Upon this we can build infrastructure that remains comprehensible far into the future.