Can Coda replace a Wiki?

Another thing that using a page-as-table approach provides is that we can interact with the content in various ways. One thing I’m currently exploring is using different ways to get an oversight of the wiki, per example by generating a graph of its structure:

(Courtesy of Nuclino)

(Courtesy of Kumu)

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Now I understand your idea better and it’s plenty of merit. I am a long-term user or more conventional wikis (indeed before wikipedia was popular), and clear document-based documents are almost here in Coda, with just a couple of improvements pending. It could be a simple, extensible wiki just as my beloved dokuwiki, or a Confluence-like product, maybe not as powerful in some senses but much more complete and flexible in others thanks to table magic.

Anyhow, your idea is really compelling. It’s a different beast and a different way of think about wikis or KBs. Going deep into it:

  • I find more natural to structure hierarchically using folders, subfolders, sections and maybe section headers as a subsections. A two-pane outliner is a simple and amazingly powerful tool for visualizing the structure of your master document, project, etc., specially if you can promote, demote and change the structural relation between entities. The more you check the outline, the more you adjust it to what is really needed. However, if a WikiTable can be represented with an outline, it would solve this aspect of the problem quite well.
  • Content: no comments.
  • Domain specific: adding tags and other flexible and evolvable kind of metadata is very intriguing and compelling. I would be cautious about using it within a team, except if the election alternatives are few and utmosly clear. Anyhow, it could be leveraged in a lot of ways using Views, formulas, temporary searches, etc.

In order to make my thought train more clear, I would say that I manage research projects all the time. I fell in love with Coda because of a lot of different reasons. One of the most important is that it can implement snowflake philosophy really nice. I can start with a phrase, after that a list, after that a set of sections, and after that an entire document populated with tables that contains raw data and are the foundation for KPIs and other measures.

When evaluation phase begin, I can freeze a coda document and use parts of it either for report sections or as data for sustaining our conclusions. Indeed, some coda document sections are direct sections of my report, while other sections and above all tables are sources from which I build another report sections.

I need a clear but flexible hierarchy of elements in order to structure my set of deliverables, but I also appreciate and leverage another transversal relations between the rest of the items of my research. The less I depend of my human memory the better, and I can do that if the information is easy to retrieve and refer.

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Thank you for the thoughtful discussion here about wikis and your use cases. Our team has discussed how to lean into the document side of Coda more to support more basic note-taking use cases.

@GJ_Roelofs adding “rich text” to a column in Coda as a column format has been requested before and it’s indeed on our backlog.

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Hi @Al_Chen_Coda,

A feature that would enhance the rich text column type is the ability to adjust the height of the rows in a given column, along with how overflow text should be treated. The different spreadsheet apps have various implementations of this (wrap/unwrap, overflow, clip, pre-set row height options, etc). Each of these implementations have pros, but also cons – and none of them have ever hit the sweet spot for me.

What I have wished for in spreadsheets for a long time, is the ability to:

  • set the height for rows in a column (in Coda this could be a simple slider within the column format modal),
  • have the text wrap within the available set row height,
  • have the remaining text simply disappear when the row height runs out,
  • and have all text in a cell become visible upon some simple trigger (like double clicking into the cell, for example).

I have a more detailed analysis of this that I can share later, when it’s more relevant.

Would it be possible for you to include this comment in the backlog notes for the rich text column type – for consideration at a future time? Thanks!

Sure will do! So you would want to set the individual cell height, not the height of the entire row (like in Excel or Google Sheets), correct?

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@Al_Chen_Coda

Actually, I envision it at the data type (column) level.

In Excel/Sheets the user can set the height of rows at the row level. In Coda, I want to set the height of rows in a rich text column at the column level. The height of the entire row would change, not just the one cell in that column. And because it’s being set at the column level, the height of all the rows would change.

In a rich text column format modal, a slider could adjust the size of all the row heights in that column simultaneously (in bulk) – they would all get shorter or taller as the slider is adjusted. The height of the entire row changes, and all the rows change in height.

Hope that makes sense.

There are obviously lots of “what if” scenarios to think through, but this is just intended as a starting point.

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I see, so even if you set the height at the column level (which affects the entire row), isn’t that the same thing as adjusting the entire row in Excel/Googl Sheets? It seems like you just want the ability to adjust the row height by hovering over the top/bottom border in the cell of a column vs. adjusting the row at the very left of the window (as in Excel/Google Sheets)? Is my assumption correct?

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@Al_Chen_Coda If I understand correctly, he wants a “Row Hight” control in the column settings of the “Rich Text” column (the drop down menu where you can set column formula, default value for new rows, etc.)

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@Al_Chen_Coda

This is tricky for me to articulate without getting too wordy!! :crazy_face:

Let me try mapping this concept to Coda’s existing UI:


COLUMN FORMATS & OPTIONS

TEXT
-value for new rows

RICH TEXT
-value for new rows
-row height (slider)
-text overflow treatment (dropdown menu)
—options: wrap to unlimited height, >>wrap to slider row height only<<, overflow, clip, etc.

SELECT LIST
-selectable options (formula)
-allow multiple selections (on/off)

PEOPLE
-allow multiple selections (on/off)
-notify when added (on/off)
-display avatar only (on/off)
value for new rows (on/off)

BUTTON
-label (text/formula)
-action (dropdown menu)
-disable if (formula)
-color (colors)
-icon (icons)
-badge (formula)

CHECKBOX
-value for new rows

IMAGES
-size (dropdown menu)
-shape (dropdown menu)

NUMBER
-decimal places (dropdown menu)
-use 1000 separator (on/off)
-value for new rows

ETC…

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EDIT: Solved, history per column is visible under the “All comments and Activity” dropdown!

After updating my initial row-as-a-page design, I bumped into the issue that a change history per row is
not accessible as far as I know.

This pretty much halts row-as-a-page design in its tracks and consequently Coda from being a viable solution for an all-in-one integrated product design & task tracking solution.

@Al_Chen_Coda I see of no way to setup Coda as a proper wiki in its current configuration. I would love to be involved in whatever process the engineering team in Coda is working on to support this workflow as I need to make a decision as to whether to use Coda or another solution for our coming projects.

It would also help to see whether someone from Coda can answer the original question that seemed to have been overlooked:

  • Given the initial post, is Coda actually suited or intended to be used as a wiki for anything but the smallest projects? Or should I use an external solution?
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Hi @GJ_Roelofs, the revision history for a row is in the dropdown of the row detail where the default is “Active Comments.” See this gif below of a row detail where you can switch to “Comments & Activity” to see the revision history:

For your original question, Coda is indeed suited to be a wiki for projects of all sizes. I’m curious which specific features from your original post are most important for your wiki scenario? From this response, it appears that being able to customize layout and the content of the page is important to your use case. We are indeed working on making Coda docs can have more customizable styles. There is no timeline set yet on these features, but it is something we are actively planning and working on!

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I definitely missed this feature, you have my thanks!
It’s not ideal in that it displays the entire value of the content instead of a diff, making it hard to use if a single Text column holds the contents for a page.

But, it definitely solves part of my issue!

I’m curious which specific features from your original post are most important for your wiki scenario?

My primary issue at the moment is that if I use a row per page, and a single Text column to hold the “primary” content of the page, it’s very hard for users to style the page as they want.

E.g.: Most users come from other wiki setups or even Google Docs, and in my usecase I want to enforce certain (data) structure on the users, but allow the page styling / content up to them. (Positioning images, etc).

Hello @GJ_Roelofs,

You may want to consider creating a button that directes people to edit the current “page” content. I set this up by usen OpenWindow() and concatenating the current row’s URL and “&columnId=c-fYo_tdyz5K&modal=true”. You will need to find the unique column ID where your page content is stored.

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Please, make this column RTL enabled :slightly_smiling_face:

I’ve opted to use the Detailed View as the basis for the wiki setup as that is more accessible.
(The column with content is then displayed in a specific cell which is easily editable.)

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Gotcha, styling in a “big cell” is still limited for now, but something that will change hopefully soon.

@Ronen_Mayer can you provide more detail on what you mean by “RTL enabled?”

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@Bobby_Ritter This solution is like having a mini CMS in Coda, very interesting!

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@Al_Chen_Coda
A rich text column that enables writing right-to-left.
It is needed in sections too, but a column will be a giant step for RTL users.

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@Al_Chen_Coda @Juan_Luis_Chulilla Having worked with the page-per-row flow a bit now, I think I can describe my optimal/dream scenario better:

  1. Define a Table which will describe all Pages in a particular Section, which allows me to:
    A. Define attributes per page.
    B. Allow a Table view of all Pages of a section, allowing for all workflows normally allowed by Coda. (filtering, formula etc)
  2. Hierarchical Pages/Sections
    A. Where the relationship of this hierarchy is encoded in the Table of the Pages. Ideally the existance of this relationship limiting the hierarchy or not.
    B. Pages in hierarchy use the Table attributes of their nearest (grand)parent Section.

Issues and workflows this allows me to solve:

  1. Meeting structure where a single Page in a section describes the meeting minutes, and the attributes allow for easy definition of Tasks (relation into other table). These Meeting Pages then can have tags, time and other attributes to be easily filterable / searchable.
  2. Design document where for Pages I want to be able to define categories, tags & attach tasks to Pages so I can later see what a Task was related to. In a design document I would often then still have adhoc Tables per Page for specific structured content. E.g.: A page that outlines a specific part with a Table containing the variants of that part and their info.

Summarized / More abstractly
The primary strength of Coda is allowing for structure on information.
However, at the moment top-level it is either all unstructured (Page / Document), or all structured (Row).

I.e.: If I do my meeting minutes as a page-per-row approach, I lose (per example) the ability to adhoc create a voting table in the Page as the context cell is Text (The only alternative being that I can add in a vote table to ALL meetings). If I do my meeting minutes as a Page, I lose the ability to attach attributes that I can filter on (like date created, categories, tags) and easily be able to ask questions such as: Show me all meetings where I was present.

I need a hybrid where I can say: “This part is structured, this part is where you can do what you want”.

The chaos of Sections
The other issue is that, in my opinion, the current single layer approach to Sections actively undermines the design of Coda.

E.g.: Structure & relationships in Coda are key. I love the fact that I can have a single source of truth for a team and know when and where something came from. I.e.: a Task tracker that allows me to connect tasks to design pages, meetings and bug reports and see at a glance the entire context of that Task.
This however requires me to have all these Tables in a single Document (because Coda doesn’t allow inter-document connections), which then becomes unmanageable because of the single-layer Section hierarchy approach.

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