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We (Software Developers) want to use a wiki (or CMS or whatever) to collect various information. We are a mid-size company developing medical devices (HW and SW), so we have to be conform to ISO 13485 (QA for Medical Devices, but similar to 9001).

These information range from "setup of IDE" over "how to configure a new project according to our standards" to "how to get prototype xy to work". Our QA Guy says we can't use a wiki because the default process of create, verify, release isn't implemented / verified within typical wikis (eg Dokuwiki, Jira Wiki).

Right now these questions get asked and answered in person or via email, loosing valuable information every time. There is no central collection of such information (and of course, the emails are not reviewed or sth either).

Is there a Wiki/CMS system which fulfills standard QA requirements or are there any arguments / loopholes to allow the use of some knowledge database?

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Get a wiki with a version control. We use FosWiki. It allows to show every version of every page, and shows exactly who made what changes when.

You are 100% correct: email ping-pong does not work, does not scale, and you NEVER can be sure if you have latest response to the email thread.

If your QA guys are concerned about wiki, how come they are OK with email?

I suspect this is more power play (who can select tools), and reluctance to changes. Ask QA for requirements for documents repository, and figure out together what tool will satisfy them. Hint: it is NOT email.

If wiki is not ISO compliant, how come emails are?

I.e. FosWiki has plugin https://foswiki.org/Extensions/WorkflowPlugin which implements such ISO-compatible workflow. Good news with FosWiki, it is very mature and has dozens of plugins, all free. Bad news, source is in Perl. If you have competent admin who knows his Perl, it is not too hard.

I recommend to compare wiki engines written in your language of preference, and features they have to support ISO workflow. Most wikis can be limited to who can change pages, corporate wikis tend to be less open than free-for-all wikipedia, which might be concern of your QA guys.

If your wiki stores pages in plain text like FosWiki does, you can create easily your own tool checking consistency according to your rules. Get inspired by FosWiki.

If feature is missing in your preferred wiki, reasonable option is to contract someone from developers to write it for you. In my experience, they are very open to add features, and will charge very reasonable hourly rates if added feature is left open (not taken private).

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  • That's how much I figured out. But I think that this will not satisfy our QA guys. Thats why I hoped somebody could give advice on using a wiki in compliance with ISO 9001 or similar. – xavor Nov 10 '16 at 20:02
  • I added some info about how to evaluate wikis, plugins, and even how to get implemented such feature. – Peter M. - stands for Monica Nov 10 '16 at 20:24
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I feel that the main philosophy point here is:

Our QA Guy says we can't use a wiki because the default process of create, verify, release isn't implemented / verified within typical wikis (eg Dokuwiki, Jira Wiki).

I think there are two models to Wiki's.

  1. The one you describe with reviews, approvals, auth levels, releases, etc. For this I would maintain the files within a git repository using the workflow models of branching and approvals, merging and releases such as those implemented at github.

  2. An open model that always allows all to edit at will, aka the wikipedia model For this I woukld use an online tools such as Confluence from Atlassian the folks who make Jira which keeps history. which does track changes and history. One downside is its flexible but non-standard markup.

Personally I prefer the open model which encourages team participation and contribution as I find the review and approve model a disincentive for contributions. As a QA person myself, my requirement is a tool that supports the team and encourages input. I don't worry too much about history, versions, duplications that I do care about in the code base.

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  • Even open wikis, like FosWiki, have versioning. Confluence is very un-wiki, because pages are not stored as text with simple markup (so it is easy to write external tools to perform some actions), but as complex HTML. Take a look at the original (first, 20 years old and going strong) wiki, c2.com, how wiki is supposed to be done. Wiki means "quick" in hawaiian. – Peter M. - stands for Monica Nov 14 '16 at 15:09
  • Hi Peter, yes, that's an interesting point. Given the definition of "a website that allows collaborative editing of its content and structure by its users." I don't feel that the HTML markup is that big a deal. Sure I work with several folks that detest Confluence's non-standard markup, and I respect their opinions and yours but I don't think that makes the tool un-wiki like in usage. Non standard-based markup is a valid criticism but a minor one in my experience of using the tool. – Michael Durrant Nov 15 '16 at 13:21
  • It is not about standard markup but about the flexibility of plain text. Because FosWiki uses plain text as storage medium, I was able to add plugin to fit our needs. With "big hairy blob storage" wikis like Confluence, you can do what designers allowed for, but going beyond that is really hard. Which is OK if wiki has all features you need out-of-the-box, but what if later you need something custom? Are you willing to trade little bit of convenience for huge chunk of freedom? – Peter M. - stands for Monica Nov 16 '16 at 16:27

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