We’ve all used them… Whenever we faced some weird technical issue, we would head on to the knowledge base of the vendor (eg Microsoft Technet) to find a solution to a particular problem.
Knowledge Bases, if implemented correctly in an organization, can save a lot of man hours in troubleshooting repetitive problems. There are many commercial solutions available, but sometimes the best solution is the easiest and cheapest.
Let’s back up a bit first. A knowledge base provides a means for information to be collected, organized, shared, searched and utilized (according to Wikipedia). This is key… Regardless of what KB solution you deploy in your organization, you need to build the processes to support the collection, organizing, searching and utilization of the knowledge. In the simplest sense, you can have a KB just as a single Word document on a shared drive. As long as everyone knows where the document is, how to update it, and how to use the search feature, you effectively have a knowledge base.
Now as exciting as having a single Word document KB sounds, this is prone to many issues. Multiple users locking the same file, the file getting accidentally deleted, etc.etc.etc. It’s not a pretty sight. Now before you go out and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a commercial solution, why not look at something like WordPress, the same back-end that this website is built on.
WordPress is a blogging and content management system. It is well designed to allow for clear editing and adding of new content. It’s categories and security makes it ideal to manage a KB.
Install WordPress on your PHP / mySQL server, and once it is up and running, download and install the Better Search plugin. Sadly the built-in search feature in WordPress sucks, so it’s better to load another plugin. You can now also customize the theme, and various of other bits.
Now for a simple process. Setup your users on the system. I would suggest you have 3 types of users. First is the subscriber, the user who will access your site, do searches, and actually consume the knowledge. Next, we have the contributor who is the person who can write articles, but not approve them, and lastly we have the editor who has the power to approve an article. In this context, we will exclude the administrator who looks after the whole system. These roles exist in WordPress. Users can register, and have these roles assigned.
Now it’s up to you to start promoting the site, and start adding content to it, which (if you know WordPress), has plenty of documents on the web, including their own KB where you can manage everything on it.
My brother keeps promoting Joomla as his choice of CMS. I however prefer WordPress. Maybe it’s the simplistic way it works. Make no mistake, Joomla is great, but I feel more comfortable with WordPress.
So now that I am a happy iPad user, I want to use it more, and I want to improve the iPad experience to my website as well. With that, I discovered a new WordPress plugin, called OnSwipe. Simply search for it in your WordPress plugin page. I managed to install it in less than 5 minutes, all over my iPad :-).
I am very happy with the way OnSwipe renders my content on the iPad. It makes me wanting to post content more often. My only gripe at this time still sits with the WordPress app that can’t work offline, and sync when it comes online.
I might as well release the code… Here’s my first plugin, currently known as the “Massyn WordPress Auto Post Plugin”. It will scan a directory for MP3 files, and if it finds a file, it will automatically post a new entry in WordPress for it.
Comments and suggestions welcome. I hope you can find use for it.
Download the plugin
I like WordPress…. Honest… You may argue that there are other tools better and greater, but you know, for what I want, it is perfect. I love the plugins. They’ve allowed me to tweak my installation exactly the way I want it.
I’m a big fan of security, and when I heard of the Yubikey on the Security Now podcast, I knew I had to get one! After a few weeks, my Yubikey arrived, and I started looking for some plugins that would help me secure my WordPress blog, and I came across this one by Henrik Schack. After some email exchanges and code tweaks, I helped Henrik to get the plugin working great. I ran it for a few weeks – no issues.
In the past, I tried to get openid working, but my plugin just didn’t want to authenticate. It was strange. When I entered my Verisign PIP ID, it worked, but when I tried to enter my own openid URL, it didn’t like the redirection. I left it at that. During the week I noticed there’s a new version of the plugin available, so I downloaded it. After playing around for a while, I realised that my Admin SSL plugin was clashing with OpenID… I don’t know the exact reason, but after disabling Admin SSL, openid authentication is now working like a charm.
Admin SSL is a great plugin. If you have an SSL certificate on your hosting plan, it will force your wordpress admin pages all over SSL. Being security conscious, I wanted to do this, but after thinking about it, I realised that with openid, and using the OpenID authentication server from Yubico, I don’t need the Admin SSL plugin anymore. So it works out great.
So right now, I only have the openid plugin running. Henrik’s Yubikey authentication and the Admin SSL plugin are both disabled, but I still have the strength in security. You may wonder why I’ve disabled Henrik’s plugin and went to OpenID. I guess when you think about it, both openID and the Yubikey plugin will use the same Yubikey, so no harm in having 2 authentication methods… I wanted to extend the openid functionality to all my users too. Not everyone has a Yubikey, but almost everyone could get an openid.
The last plugin I want to mention is Feed Locations. If you’re a podcaster or a blogger using something like Feedburner, then this plugin is a must. WordPress adds your RSS feed into the HTML, but if you decide to use something like Feedburner, you don’t want webspiders to detect your original feed — you want them to pickup a different feed.. This plugin helps you specify what you want that feed to be.
Allright, it’s coffee time, then time to record my next episode of podify.net