Using Links to prototype a Database Wiki

James Cheney, Sam Lindley, Heiko Müller

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Both relational databases and wikis have strengths that make them attractive for use in collaborative applications. In the last decade, database-backed Web applications have been used extensively to develop valuable shared biological references called curated databases. Databases offer many advantages such as scalability, query optimization and concurrency control, but are not easy to use and lack other features needed for collaboration. Wikis have become very popular for early-stage biocuration projects because they are easy to use, encourage sharing and collaboration, and provide built-in support for archiving, history-tracking and annotation.  However, curation projects often outgrow the limited capabilities of wikis for structuring and efficiently querying data at scale, necessitating a painful phase transition to a database-backed Web application. We perceive a need for a new class of general-purpose system, which we call a Database Wiki, that combines flexible wiki-like support for collaboration with robust database-like capabilities for structuring and querying data. This paper presents DBWiki, a design prototype for such a system written in the Web programming language Links. We present the architecture, typical use, and wiki markup language design for DBWiki and discuss features of Links that provided unique advantages for rapid Web/database application prototyping.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Event13th International Symposium on Database Programming Languages 2011 - Seattle, United States
Duration: 29 Aug 201129 Aug 2011


Conference13th International Symposium on Database Programming Languages 2011
Abbreviated titleDBPL 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • curated databases
  • web programming
  • Links
  • rapid prototyping


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