Wiki start-up taps open source to lure new users

Looking for more users, wiki appliance company MindTouch will open source its business wiki software and a Web development framework.

A wiki software start-up is releasing two products into open source to help get more developers familiar with its commercial products.

MindTouch, founded by former Microsoft employees, on Tuesday announced the creation of an open-source project around MindTouch Dream, software for building distributed Web applications using Microsoft .Net development tools.

The company also intends to release its wiki-based document-sharing software, called Deki, under an open-source license on Wednesday, said the company's president and chief technology officer, Steve Bjorg.

The company intends to detail both projects at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention this week.

MindTouch's primary business is selling a so-called wiki appliance to small and medium-size companies. The appliance includes a modified version of MediaWiki, the software behind Wikipedia, and a server that can be updated remotely, Bjorg said. MindTouch changed MediaWiki to make it easier to use for workers sharing Microsoft Office documents.

The first of company's new open-source projects, Deki, will be an open-source version of the company's wiki software--without the server--and will be available under the General Public License. By making it free for download, the company hopes to get people familiar with MindTouch and its commercial products, Bjorg said.

The company's second new open-source release, the MindTouch Dream open-source project, will have a dedicated Web site called OpenGarden, where it will have developer documentation and other resources.

The Mindtouch Dream software, which was used to build Deki, is a development framework designed to accelerate creation of so-called Web 2.0 applications, such as mashups that combine information from different Web sites. All data is stored as XML and services can be accessed using simplified, XML-based APIs called REST (Representational State Transfer).

"Now you can write server-based REST services in a highly decoupled, lightweight fashion, and you can run the software on proprietary as well as open-source platforms," Bjorg said.

Applications written with MindTouch Dream can be done in PHP or .Net languages such as C# or Visual Basic. Programs can run on Microsoft Windows machines or Novell's Mono software for running .Net applications on Linux or Unix.

MindTouch has fewer than 50 customers using its wiki appliance, which was launched in April, Bjorg said.

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