Wagn, the pattern-driven wiki that RailsInside.com calls "revolutionary", is announcing its 1.0 release. With a handful of simple, powerful innovations, Wagn enhances wikis to allow rapid creation of collaborative, dynamic, patterned websites while keeping things simple and clean for casual users. The 1.0 release adds considerable polish and robustness.
Wow, 1.0 is finally here (see the press release). We've pondered, crafted, refined, and gotten organized, and now Wagn's ready to help you do the same things on your projects.
It's been a long journey. We had the idea three years ago at a wiki conference called Recent Changes Camp. We wanted to build a consumer education website called Hooze that used all the "together fuel" of a site like Wikipedia, but was better at breaking information into smaller bits — few of us want to read an encyclopedia article before we buy crackers or a lightbulb, right? But how do you make patterned information simple and fun to use?
So we started with smaller units than webpages, and we decided to call them "cards." We're all familiar with lots of kinds of cards: playing cards, postcards, business cards, library cards... They're all different sizes and hold different amounts of information, everything from a picture to a filing record to a complete story. The same goes for cards on Wagn.
As we started organizing cards of information about companies and products, we quickly saw patterns emerging. We wanted company cards, for example, to include logo cards, address cards, etc. This has been one of the driving ideas behind Wagn: cards including other cards in patterned ways.
Unfortunately, we never really found funding for our ambitious consumer education website idea, but in the process of looking for support, we found Meyer Memorial Trust. Brandon Sanders, a board member at the time, walked up to Marie Deatherage from Meyer and said "I've got to meet the only other person in the room with a stripe of pink hair." Pink hair, in our experience, correlates strongly with vision. Before long, Meyer was using Wagn to launch connectipedia.org, a website that helps do-gooders of all stripes connect and share resources.
That was over a year ago, when Wagn was running version 0.9. At the time we thought 1.0 was right around the corner, but we just...weren't...quite...ready. We wanted to speed things up a bit, improve some usability, nail down that one bug. So 0.9 was followed not by 1.0 but by 0.10. And then 0.11. Version 0.12 was used as the conference wiki for Recent Changes Camp 2009. With version 0.13 we introduced a major upgrade to our hosting and consulting services, which has brought in some great new projects, like academic paper tracking for a national research group.
And now, many tweaks, fixes, and enhancements later, we think Wagn is ready. Oh, it's far from done — we've got literally hundreds of design ideas in our tracking system (which we built using Wagn), and our community continues to offer more each day — but Wagn is now too strong to hide behind a zero. 1.0 is here.
There've been plenty of bumps in the road. We've had a few development pauses, lots of funding lapses, and long stretches without a full-time programmer on the project. So we feel some extra pride in pushing through to 1.0 in the middle of an economic downturn that saw the end of our grant funding and the relocation of our core team from one state to three. But we all believed in the value of our work, as did a much bigger "we" of supporters, idea people, advisers, code contributors, interns, testers, and friends.
We really hope Wagn will continue to do good in the world by making it easier for people to collaborate on, organize, and trumpet their ideas in profound and meaningful ways.
How can you use Wagn to help build a thrivable world?