Project Management

Bloki makes it easier to build project Web sites

Collaborative development sounds good in theory, but it can be hard to pull off. Bloki is designed to make the task of multi-site, Web-directed development accessible even to non-coders. See whether this hosted application is worth your while.


Bloki is a new hosted Web site development tool offering Web blog features and a Wiki. It offers a collaborative platform for disparate project teams that want a central repository for intrateam documentation and communications. Bloki authoring can be distributed across a project team, because no HTML or other coding skills are required. A central project Web site provides the project team with a repository that makes project information available to all team members.

Signing up for Bloki
You can sign up for a free Bloki membership at the Bloki Web site. The administrator should handle the setup, because your Bloki site will be sitename.bloki.com.

Editing an existing Web page with Bloki
You create a new site after signing in to Bloki. This results in a default Web page (Figure A) appearing at your URL. You can modify this Web page by selecting Edit from the Page menu. With the proper access, you can add the following formats and features to a Web page:
  • Bold, italics, underlining, strikethrough, subscript, and superscript
  • Ordered list, bulleted list
  • Decreased indent, increased indent
  • Font color, background color
  • Styles
  • Horizontal rules
  • Web links
  • Images
  • Notes
  • Page annotations
  • Tables

All of these options are available from a common toolbar familiar to anybody who has used a word processor or GUI-based tool such as FrontPage.

Figure A
Bloki default Web page


After editing an existing Bloki page, you must save your work by choosing from Bloki's Page menu. Optionally, you can choose Save As to save the Web page under another filename.

Creating new Web pages
After signing up for Bloki, you have the privileges to author within the Bloki environment. Creating Bloki Web pages is much like using a word processor or a Web-based blogging application. To create a Web page with Bloki, go to Page | New. This will open a blank Web page in Bloki, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B
Creating a new, blank Web page


Blogging via Bloki
Bloki includes a Web logging feature with output. Figure C shows the Web log tool.

Figure C
Bloki Web log tool


The Bloki Web log component provides a familiar toolset. The Web log element of a project Web site plays an important role by providing:
  • Up-to-date news on project developments
  • A Central repository for companywide and client-specific news affecting the project team's development efforts
  • Information about and links to the latest software build

Project documentation and Bloki
Although Bloki is a third-party hosted application, it doesn't include storage space for project documentation authored in Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat, or other application-specific formats. If you are planning to use Bloki as a project Web site platform and need to include other documentation, internal corporate server space will be required. Linking to project documentation hosted on an internal server from a third-party site like Bloki means you'll need to get the neighborhood IT department involved.

Securing a Bloki project Web site
You may not want the outside world to be privy to the content appearing on a project Web site, so security is an important concern. One of the main reasons to go to a tool like Bloki is to enable secure collaboration with minimal organizational output. Bloki includes the following access levels for a site:
  • None (nonmembers)—View only Bloki's public pages
  • ViewNotes—Members can view the text of pop-up notes
  • Read—Members can view Bloki's private pages
  • Edit—Members can create, edit, annotate, and delete Bloki pages
  • Admin—Members can unlock pages, view page histories, add and remove members, and change permissions

These rights are granted via a Web-based user interface, shown in Figure D.

Figure D
Web-based security interface


Conclusion
Clearly, Bloki has some appealing features. But the fact that it is a hosted application could be a detractor for your organization due to security or other business issues. If so, take heart: An enterprise version of Bloki is under development for installation behind the corporate firewall.com.

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