We recently had the chance to catch up with MindTouch sales engineer, Mike Diliberto. Below is our interview with him on what makes Deki important as a collaboration tool.

What’s different about Deki vs. traditional wikis?

There are many wikis on the market today, but there are far fewer true collaboration environments. Wiki is a concept much like a door; a wiki interface is a portal through which any user of a site can enter or extract information. What matters much more than the door itself is what is on the other side. Many wikis today are little more than standard web pages with a wiki interface, which is fine if you want to lock your content away in static web pages. MindTouch, on the other hand is an environment built for data interaction and collaboration. Our pages have a wiki interface, but that is far from the only way for users to interact with pages and data in the MindTouch environment. Users can add and digest content in many ways; a user can easily add content via the wiki interface and another user can query that very same data through our API.

So what do you mean when you say “Deki is the ‘connective tissue’ of the Enterprise?”

When we speak of the enterprise and specifically, the data systems of the enterprise, we understand that almost all enterprise data systems are really a collection of distributed, heterogeneous subsystems, and each of those systems has it’s own methods for accessing the data contained within. It is not uncommon for a medium to large enterprise to use SalesForce for CRM, Sage for accounting, PeopleSoft for internal HR management, Microsoft Active directory for computer user management, and so on. What prevents most businesses today from maximizing their efficiency is the inability to easily analyze all of this data together. MindTouch has created a product that acts as the “glue” to connect all of this disparate data together. Using MindTouch data extensions, users can easily query data from all of these systems and build true business intelligence by analyzing all of this data together in one environment. Furthermore, once all of these data points and queries are in the MindTouch environment, they are not stuck there; users can access any of these data points, variables, queries, and dekiscript functions through our RESTful API.

What are the implications for users of the underlying RESTful architecture in the product? Why did you go with this design?

While it may not have implications for casual users, the power of our RESTful architecture quickly becomes apparent when performing any task that requires a separation of the business logic from the user interface. By creating a completely RESTful architecture, the short answer is that anything that can be accomplished within the MindTouch user interface, from simply viewing data, all the way up to building an new page dynamically from a template and posted data, can be accomplished through the API. Another very powerful benefit of this architecture is that users can completely change the user interface without putting any data at risk; since the user interface is just another method to interact with the MindTouch API, breaking the user interface does not break MindTouch. Lastly, our underlying architecture allows MindTouch to scale to any size necessary, splitting components and extensions across multiple servers as needed to support the diverse needs of enterprise customers.

Which capabilities are available in the commercial version that aren’t in the open source version?

The commercial version builds on our open core by adding many valuable enterprise extensions to the MindTouch environment. Extensions to connect to Microsoft Access data bases, Microsoft SQL server, and many other enterprise data sources are included, along with our desktop suite, a set of tools that adds the ability to publish direct from Word and Outlook and a MindTouch explorer, which allows you to manage all of the pages and files in your Mindtouch environment as if it was just another network drive.

Anything else we should know about Deki?

MindTouch is not a wiki with some extra enterprise features bolted on top; MindTouch is the single most powerful data interchange and analysis tool available on the market today, that happens to have a wiki interface as one of it’s many data access methods.

MindTouch has many millions of ecstatic users, hundreds of thousands of installations, and a long list of marquee customers, such as: Mozilla, Microsoft, Intel, Intuit, The Washington Post, US Army, EMC, Harvard, Timberland, The United Nations… most of which are reporting double digit percentage increases in productivity and orders of magnitude of return on investment from using the MindTouch platform. We allow you to connect and collaborate smarter. Period.

What are the best resources for someone who wants to learn more?

The Mindtouch developer community is thousands of members strong, and many members play vibrant, active role in our forums and discussions. Chances are, if you can think of a data interchange problem, someone is probably discussing it on the forums; it is these community requests and discussions that play a significant role in defining the MindTouch product roadmap. Additionally, we have many video tutorials demonstrating the features of MindTouch and every other Tuesday we host free, live training sessions in a webcast format. They can be found at www.mindtouch.com/Training

Thanks for your time Mike.

Below find a 10-min video from MindTouch CEO, Aaron Fulkerson showing off the capabilities of Deki that allowed one property management company to significantly streamline the generation and dissemination of weekly status reports leading to a 25% increase in efficiency.