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An idea that combines the functionality of a database system and a wiki web application




Wikidbase is an idea that combines the functionality of a database system and a wiki web application.

The wikidbase concept is based on the view that non-technical users of a database system (i.e. those who are the experts of the nature of the data they handle) should be able to create and evolve their database model over time (i.e. without paying a database expert over and over again to do it).

This is particularly relevant to non-profit and charity organizations.

Furthermore, since the designer of a conventional database system cannot foretell all future demands of the system, it is highly likely that a database model will be frozen too early, causing problems later on when the requirements of an organistion change - as they so often do.

A conventional database is a system for information storage and retrieval that is highly optimised through organisation of the data into a rigid model; as such, whilst being highly optimised, it is not easy for a non-technical user of the system to later change the model (e.g. to add or change fields, or tables), change reports and queries, or alter the data-entry interface.

A wiki is a website that allows non-technical users to easily edit the contents of webpages, allowing them to add images, alter styling, etc. A wiki can be likened to an unstructured database, since there is no predetermined modal for the information that will be stored, and so a wiki can be used to store highly flexible data - and lots of it - (wikipedia, a web wiki-based encylopedia, is a good example of this). Unlike a structured database, however, information held in a wiki can usually only be retrieved by string searches, and it is not possible, therefore, to retrieve structured information from the wiki (e.g. a list of phone numbers or email addresses for all staff members).

Wikidbase can be thought of as more than just a database, as a rich groupware application that will be capable of storing and organising all sorts of information (e.g. fully relational data, plain old information pages, files, images, media, semi-structured data, shared calendar type information, etc.). Wikidbase will be released as open source under the GPL licence (i.e it will be free).
Last updated on August 6th, 2009

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