JotSpot First Impressions


Playing with JotSpot was once of the things I'd put off until the book was done. Tonight, I grabbed the intro email (almost 2 months old) and signed in.

One of the first things I wanted to do, naturally enough, was change the machine generated password to something I thought I could remember, so I went searching for the usual "preferences" link and sure enough found it. What happened next, however, surprised me. When I clicked on it, I got just another wiki page with an edit button. When I edited the wiki page, I got a form instead of the usual freeform wiki entry box. The preferences forms are completely built inside the JotSpot form system. I liked that right off.

I worked through some of the examples in their cook book to get some experience with their forms. They're pretty slick, using the page metaphor to store data and create applications. I'v been intrigued for a while with this idea of pages as the basis for applications and this gives me some food for thought.

Overall, the execution is professional and things worked pretty well for a beta. There were a few times that I suspected it didn't like Safari (my browser), but I was able to work through the issues. For example, the default editing mode is "WYSIWYG" which requires IE. Seems like that would be easy enough to default to something else when someone is not using IE. Changing my default preferences to "Script Markup" fixed the problem.

The tool panel on the right hand side is context sensitive and customizable. I couldn't find out how to install what JotSpot calls "applications." Applications seem to be pre-packaged sets of forms and pages for a given task (like recruiting). There was a way to browse the gallery, but no way to install them on my Wiki even though some of them looked very cool.

All in all, I spent a fun hour playing around and seeing what Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer have been doing with their free time. I'm curious how JotSpot will be perceived by the market with respect to other wikis like SocialText or Twiki. (Bonus link: Analysis of JotSpot by the Twiki team.)

I think that regardless of feature set, JotSpot has a leg up because they're hosted. It feels like going to a Web site and starting to play around--something people are conditioned to do. JotSpot can thus sell to a marketing or sales person with a corporate credit card without the CIO or IT manager ever being involved. That's a huge win because it removes some significant friction from the transaction. If JotSpot is smart (and Joe and Graham are plenty smart) that's where they'll focus their marketing. Position JotSpot as the no hassle way to get things done that the IT department never seems to get to. They're well on their way with their CookBooks and pre-built applications.