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Wiki vs. Documents

November 9th, 2010 Posted in Office, SharePoint

Since SharePoint 2010 has been released half a year ago, lots of people start talking about the new cool wiki features it brought with it. Some people seem trying to use the wiki features whereever possible not thinking about the drawbacks. Documents seem to be old-fashioned, they’re not enterprise 2.0… 

Indeed, it is true that the SharePoint 2010 wiki feature are a lot better that the prior version and they combine very well with the also new social features like tagging, rating and the news feed.

In my opinion document are not old fashioned and I don’t think that a wiki always is a good tool to store data in. Maybe I’m one of the last guys who think documents are cool, especially now in SharePoint 2010! So check out my pros for document and wiki features in SharePoint 2010:

Documents can be send (E-Mail or fax) or printed as a whole. A wiki consists of linked pages that cannot be printed or send.

Documents can be read and edited offline/remote. Even nowadays offline people are guilted as homeless people, you cannot do that with a wiki.

Documents are a standardized storage medium. The wiki produces some kind of HTML that would pass no W3 standard verification.

The editor for documents named Word 2010 is the best document editor on this planet at the moment. No web based wiki WYSIWYG content editor can top that, even not the SharePoint 2010 rich content editor.

Documents can switch their file format as desired. A wiki cannot really do that.

Even documents can be edited by multiple persons simultaneous, a wiki is better in this because it consists of lots of pages. I’m not sure how well this works if two people try to edit the same wiki page at once.

A wiki can be combined with tagging and rating very well and a lot better than documents. You can tag or rate documents only as a whole while you can do that with each wiki page.

A wiki can be enriched by rich media like videos. It is possible to place videos within documents but they’re not really made for this.

My last point mentions search. A search is never better that the structure of the crawled information. This is important for both wiki and documents so I have no winner in this point.


I tried to find some strong arguments pro documents and pro wiki to make you think a while when you have to make the choice next time. If you think there are more reasons pro wiki or pro document, please leave me a comment on this.

3 Responses to “Wiki vs. Documents”

  1. Roland Grey Says:

    Hello Alexander,

    I was a bit surprised you actually try to find some positive points in working with documents. I am the wordonwiki product manager, a wiki that uses MSWord to edit wikipages. So you would expect me to defend wikis rather than documents.

    One big thing wikis have as an advantage is this simple equation:

    the document == the page == its history == its url

    As a collaboration medium, a document is probably one of the least effective forms of communication. It can get lost, you never find it when you need it, you’re never sure who has the last version. I have done my fair share of consolidating feedback from multiple sources on the same document, only to find out that after I finished, there was another feedback with revision marks in my inbox.

    One last point: I was rather happy to see that also you think there is no better editor than good’ol MSWord. We at WordonWiki totally agree, that’s why we have build this product.

  2. Ian Morrish Says:

    If you have Office Web Apps installed on your SharePoint server, a wiki is (almost?) redundant.

    Roland, most of the issues you point out regarding using documents for collaboration are solved with SharePoint.

    Also see Microsoft Office Word Add-in For MediaWiki to Save-As wiki format http://bit.ly/wwiki if you want to stick with wiki markup language.


  3. Peter Gfader Says:

    Hi Alexander

    What editor would you suggest to use for SharePoint wikis?
    We are not so happy with the built in one.

    Is there any way to use Windows Live Writer with a SharePoint 2010 wiki?



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