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Hypertext and Wiki Content Authoring

Hypertext and Wiki Content Authoring

As mentioned in “Information Item Management in Microsoft OneNote”, it’s easy to create links to OneNote notebooks, section groups, sections, pages, and paragraphs (information items within a page). This hypertext style of capturing and organizing content can be very effective for a wide range of information management scenarios, and you don’t need to deal with technology-related concepts such as HTML, XML, or Cascading Style Sheets.

When used in conjunction with shared notebook services (with Microsoft Windows Live SkyDrive or Microsoft SharePoint), OneNote content can be directly accessed from web browser clients; OneNote automatically creates a web page rendering of content authored in OneNote 2010, when the content is stored in a shared OneNote notebook.

In the scenario in Figure 3, for example, the page content can be viewed by OneNote Web App because it was sent to a SkyDrive-based shared notebook. Figure 5 shows the content in IE, and Figure 6 shows the same content in Firefox (Chrome is also supported, but is not shown).

Figure 5 OneNote Web App IE page view

Figure 6 OneNote Web App Firefox page view

From a security perspective, either viewers must have access control privileges to the web location (e.g., SkyDrive folder) or the shared notebook must be a “public” notebook (accessible to anyone with the web address).

On a related note, wikis have become very popular over the last few years, as a workspace-oriented approach to creating and organizing hypertext content. There isn’t a wiki product category, per se; rather, the “wiki way” is more of an approach to creating and sharing hypertext content (a philosophy explained in The Wiki Way: The Collaboration and Sharing on the Internet co-authored by Ward Cunningham, who invented the wiki approach), and wikis can be productively used in a variety of hypertext authoring contexts.

OneNote 2010 supports several wiki-related conventions, including:

  • The use of double-bracketed text to create links to new pages. For example, entering [[Competitive strategy]] in OneNote 2010 creates a new page with that title (in the same section) and makes the bracketed text a link to the new page.
  • No “404s”—page not found—error messages. You don’t need to take separate steps to create the referenced pages, and the links remain intact even if you subsequently move or rename the linked pages.
  • Flexible editing options. Anyone with access privileges to the shared notebook-containing web location can edit the OneNote content (they don’t even need to look for an “edit this page” button because OneNote’s editor is non-modal).
  • Page item versioning. Because the flexibility provided by the wiki-centric approach sometimes leads to extensive collaborative editing, it’s useful to maintain versions of page content, and to make it possible to compare page versions and undo edits as necessary. OneNote 2010 includes all of the requisite services for robust wiki-styled authoring and collaboration.

One important advantage to using the OneNote 2010 client (i.e., rather than OneNote Web App or a competitive browser client-based alternative) is that all of the features and content are available when you don’t have a network connection. OneNote 2010 keeps a local copy of shared OneNote notebooks, and you can work with the local version if you’re in a plane or some other location in which you don’t have a secure network connection. When you next connect to the Internet, OneNote 2010 automatically and unobtrusively synchronizes your local notebook copies with the shared, server/service-maintained master copies.

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