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PBworks (formerly PBwiki) is a commercial collaboration service created by David Weekly, with Ramit Sethi and Nathan Schmidt joining shortly thereafter as co-founders. Based in San Mateo, California, the company's original name stems from their belief that "making a wiki is as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich". The company operates on a freemium basis, with basic features being offered for free and more advanced features for a fee.
In 2005, most wiki software was overly complex for a layman to set up and manage, requiring an extensive knowledge of Linux, and their own server. David Weekly came up with the idea of providing easy-to-use privately hosted wikis through a website - which he named "PeanutButterWiki" - while co-hosting the first SuperHappyDevHouse hackathon event in May 2005. Together with some programmer friends, Weekly quickly coded the first implementation of PBworks; the original beta test of PBworks was released for public comment on 31 May 2005.
The site was formally launched in June 2005, and within 48 hours, over 1000 wikis had been created. Today it contains over 1,000,000 wikis, 6.91 million pages of user content and 3.43 million user-uploaded files.
Software and features
Hosted on an all-Linux cluster, built on Debian, PBworks uses its own proprietary software which is under continuing development. It added WYSIWYG editing in early 2007, and limited HTML source editing in 2008.
Users can create free basic wiki workspaces, or upgrade to a premium plan to access additional features. Workspaces can be public or private (only viewable by those who have been invited to join the workspace).
Historically, PBworks focused on being simpler and easier-to-use than other solutions, but the company has been adding functionality.
In early 2008 the company launched PBworks 2.0, an improved version with a new layout, more granular security, and a more easily customizable color scheme.
In Fall 2008, PBworks Document Management Release added the ability to place (and permission) files in folders and a new wiki navigation system.
In Spring 2009, PBworks's Notification release added starred pages for selective notifications, a sidebar workspace navigator, and a simple mechanism for sharing page links with others.
Its Legal Edition release added features designed for law firms such as expanded security measures and a comprehensive audit log, while its Project Edition release added multi-workspace networks and project management tools such as tasks and milestones.
Its Campus Edition provided schools and school districts with an enterprise solution, with unlimited workspaces and a centralized Administrator Dashboard for managing them.
PBworks also launched a Mobile Edition in early 2009.
In Fall 2009, PBworks launched two major updates. In September, the Social Collaboration Update added social-networking-style user profiles and Twitter-style microblogging. In November, the Real-time Collaboration Update added integrated web-based chat (including group chat), live Facebook-style notifications, and the ability to share live edits with other users.
In early 2009, PBworks launched a Template Store for its business customers, which provides wiki/workspace templates for specific uses and industries.
A number of business and corporations use PBworks to create private wikis for employees; one case study from CNN described a legal firm which had transitioned to PBworks as a document management system in order to cut their IT costs. Major companies using PBworks as a host for internal documents include CafePress.com, Capgemini, Deloitte, the Financial Times, Kiva, and Wideload Games. Educational groups include the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wayne State University, and DePaul University and University of Toronto.
On April 28, 2009, PBwiki changed its name to PBworks (at the same time launching a new Legal Edition).
One limitation of PBworks is that all of the files uploaded to a particular workspace exist in a single namespace. That is, unlike traditional folders within a desktop file system, users cannot upload two different files with the same name and file them in different folders. For example, if a file "report.doc" is uploaded to folder B, and folder A already has a file with this same name, PBworks treats the file in folder B as a new version of the file in folder A, moving it from folder A to B, and adding a revision to the file revision history. This introduces the possibility of confusion, since users looking for the file in folder A would not be able to find it there. No data is actually lost, since PBworks has a file versioning system that retains copies of every version uploaded.