Chasing the future at XWiki

Dec 22 2011

Chasing the future at XWiki

Here at XWiki we are carrying out several research activities to keep up with the evolution of current technologies and to explore new and interesting ways for improving our products. In order to do so we collaborate with other enterprises in collaborative research projects: the main goal of these projects is to push forward the state of the art and to capitalize the efforts by building top-notch products incorporating these advancements.

Currently XWiki is involved in four research projects.

The first one is Wiki3.0. This project aims at developing a next generation collaboration platform that integrates real-time editing and interactions, social-networking features, and that will take advantage of cloud infrastructures. The 3.0 generation, as it is envisioned by the partners of the project, is characterized by the following elements: conceiving and taking advantage of realtime functionalities on the Web, integrating social-networking and advanced collaboration capabilities, enriching the content using semantic annotations, and scaling-up the platform by adopting and integrating a cloud infrastructure.

The key aspects here are the real-time editing and social functionalities integrated in a comprehensive platform for managing structured data and developing collaborative applications. We have already started to reap some of the outcomes: the latest release of XWiki Enterprise Manager includes Workspaces which are the realization of the research carried out about social interactions and functionalities.

We are also actively working on the real-time editing using the source and the wysiwyg editor. We are targeting the first quarter of the next year for releasing a functional version that can be installed on top of XWiki.

The second research project is CompatibleONE. This project aims at providing interoperable middleware for the description and federation of heterogeneous clouds comprising resources provisioned by different cloud providers. The main goal is to be interoperable with most platforms in order to provide maximum freedom to users and developers and consequently breaking vendor lock-in. XWiki is participating actively by leading a use case effort and by providing the implementation of some technologies.

The key aspects in this project are the experimentation with cloud technologies at the infrastructure and platform level. We did a lot of experimentation with technologies like OpenStack or OpenNebula for managing infrastructures. We also developed some utilities for managing the configuration of the underlying infrastructure and its monitoring. These activities will allow us to acquire knowledge about virtualization and infrastructure management in order to improve our current XWiki software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform.

At the platform level we are investigating the usage of NoSQL data storages like Cassandra for storing and querying XWiki structured and non-structured data. These will allow us to understand how to make XWiki scale using this kind of technologies and will provide useful insights about how to make XWiki query languages evolve in order to be as much independent as possible from the underlying data storage.

The third research project is STREAMS. This project is more pure-research oriented and aims at designing peer-to-peer solutions that offer underlying services required by real-time social web applications and eliminate the disadvantages of centralized architectures. These solutions are meant to replace a central authority-based collaboration with a distributed collaboration that offers support for decentralization of services. This project can be considered an evolution of a previous project in which we took part: XWiki Concerto, which is also available as an experimental extension.

STREAMS takes a completely opposite approach with respect to mainstream cloud computing architectures. We think that it is still interesting to continue investigate these approaches based on peer-to-peer computing because they provide useful insights about how to organize and synchronize collaboration among independent peers and how to scale our architectures without having to rely on a central cloud provider.

The last project is Resilience which is about data replication and safety in web application. In this context we are experimenting on integrating rich content editors in our products which will allow user to edit and manipulate non-textual objects. We will also take advantage of the underlying platform which will guarantee the safe replication of data and its availability, including offline storage.

To sum up, XWiki is actively chasing the future by participating in projects that allow us to understand and experiment with the technologies that have good chances to become mainstream tomorrow. We try to be up-to-date with the constant evolution of the state of the art by anticipating the future and by actively seeking new projects that are interesting for our long-term roadmap.

If you are interested in participating to these challenges you might want to have a look at our open positions page

Ludovic Dubost
XWiki Founder and XWiki SAS CEO