Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tutorial - Navigating the ActiveWiki

Over at the ActiveWiki we get a lot of questions from folks who aren't used to wiki software, and consequently have difficulties both navigating and editing the Wiki.  I've offered to teach a class on the subject before and have even taught individuals directly.  As a followup to that, I feel that a quick tutorial may help ease a lot of the confusion in getting around.

Vintage Logo

Before I begin with the details, you should think of the wiki as an outline.  The navigation throughout the entire wiki is formatted as an outline, where important or general topics link to sub-topics that are elaborated on.  You won't find pages on the ActiveWiki that are titled "How to Build," but you will find very detailed lists of the building commands and very intricate examples of how each one works.  The key to successfully navigating the ActiveWiki -- or any wiki, really -- is to know what you're looking for, and then to pursue that as a topic.

Left Side Navigation Bar

The navigation bar pictured  below can be found on the left side of all pages on the ActiveWiki.  We occasionally update it with new information, but it will always appear in this format.  I'll break the bar down by heading:

"I'm always on the left!!"
The Navigation heading provides four links to locations that are mostly of importance to wiki editors -- the people who update and add content to the ActiveWiki.  As you can see, there is a handy link to the main page.  The link below allows you to see a full list of recent changes to the ActiveWiki.  The 3rd link in this column allows you to visit a random page of the ActiveWiki, and the final link allows you to visit the Administration pages.  The Administration pages are helpful if you ever have any concerns or questions, or if you'd like to learn the rules.

ActiveWiki Community
The ActiveWiki Community heading hosts links to the Community Portal and its related sub-pages.  This heading, like the navigation heading, is most useful for editors, but it can be helpful for users like you who would like to learn to edit!  The Community Portal offers tutorials on editing content, as well as quick links to where you can leave a question and another member of the community will get back to you.

Activeworlds Topics
The Activeworlds Topics heading is the meat of what a reader like you will be using while on the ActiveWiki.  This header offers links to common help topics regarding Activeworlds.  For example, the 'Building' link leads to the Build directory, which hosts links to help pages for all of the existing building triggers, commands, and parameters... as well as other related building topics.  If you ever come to the wiki looking for help, try to think of what general topic it fits in to -- you'll likely find the activate trigger in a building directory, for example -- and you should be able to navigate there from these quick links.

The Links heading offers quick links to other official Activeworlds webpages.  This is pretty straightforward, and will lead you off-site should you choose to follow them.

The Search heading is by-far the most useful tool for quickly finding what you're looking for.  Simply input the topic, and if there is an article about it on the ActiveWiki, it will take you directly to that page.  If there isn't an article with that exact name, a list of related articles will appear.

The Toolbox heading links to rarely used utilities that are related to the specific page you are on, or perhaps just the ActiveWiki in general.  These are mostly useful for editors and can be ignored by readers.

In Other Languages
The In Other Languages heading appears on articles that have been translated into another language on other AW-related wikis.  Currently, the only such wiki that exists is the 3Dwiki - AW Europe's Wiki.

Main Page Directory

If you've taken the time to scan the main page of the ActiveWiki, you'll notice that there's some nice formatting work and more to the point -- a lot of links. 

The Main Page was designed with navigation in mind, and it was  there were we decided to expand on the 'Activeworlds Topics' heading you read about in the section above.  All of the original links are included, along with links to relevant sub-directories and even a nice image for each one.

Please note that these all link to directories -- which hold more links to relevant topics.  Remember at the beginning of this tutorial, I referred to the wiki as an outline.  This section is an outline in the most general sense.

Perhaps the most elaborate topic in this section is the 'Help' heading, which is a listing of each of the major wiki topics with some elaboration.  If you're still having problems figuring out where a specific topic may be and can't find it via search, the Help page may be able to point you in the right direction.

Also of note in this section is the Glossary, which is a handy collection of definitions regarding a lot of lingo that gets thrown around in Active Worlds, or actually in Virtual Worlds altogether.

Inline Linking

Inline Linking is so intuitive that I almost don't want to comment on it, but since this is a tutorial, I suppose I should.  Inline Linking is a staple in wiki software.  If you've ever read Wikipedia, you may notice that a lot of the words in the paragraph are linked to other articles on Wikipedia.  We actually have this same function on the ActiveWiki, with some extended functionality.  Here's what you need to know about inline linking:

  • ActiveWiki Links
    • Appear as normal, blue-colored links.
    • Will ALWAYS lead to another page on the ActiveWiki, and NEVER lead off-site.
    • Usually link to related content if embedded in a paragraph.  For example, a page about a world will more than likely have a link to the ActiveWiki page about that world's owner.
  • Off-site Links
    • Appear as light-blue links that are followed by an arrow icon.
    • Will ALWAYS lead to a page that has been linked using the entire URL.  In other words, these links take you off of the ActiveWiki.
    • These links are usually found at the end of articles, and link to webpages related to the article you're reading about.  For example, there is a link to the AlphaMapper on the Alphaworld wiki page.
  • Teleport Links
    • Appear as light-blue links that are followed by a globe icon.
    • Will ALWAYS teleport you to a location within the Activeworlds Universe.
These are the most common (and useful) ways of navigating the wiki. Hopefully they will be of help!  As for you guys: was this tutorial helpful?  If it was, I can do another one in this style for editing the wiki.  Let me know! :)

No comments:

Post a Comment