Wiki Engine Survey

How do small groups do shared document development these days? We had a SharePoint site; it requires heavyweight applications (MS Office) on each client machine. We have Subversion for source code and are also using it for shared scheduling with GNU Project. I had a Writely account; it is a pure Web Service Application, but I sort of lost track of the account after Google bought them.

We are writing a browser-based app, so should be eating our own dogfood when possible during development. That says an HTML-based browser application such as Writely or a Wiki. Well, I decided to go with a Wiki, so now I need to select a Wiki Engine.

When I went searching, I found a Top Ten Wiki Engines page and the WikiMatrix. I put some criteria into the Matrix’s Choice Wizard and then compared its output to the Top Ten list. Here are my finalists:

  • MediaWiki Wikipedia’s engine. It’s the only wiki engine that openSUSE 10.2 includes in the distribution. I was about to go with it by default, but then saw that it is targeted for high-traffic sites.
  • PhpWiki“a WikiWikiWeb clone written in PHP. PhpWiki works right out of the box with zero configuration,” says the Matrix. Things were in some disarray at its SourceForge sites, however.
  • TWiki“a flexible, powerful, and easy to use enterprise collaboration platform. It is a Structured Wiki, typically used to run a project development space, a document management system, or any other groupware tool,” says the Matrix. I was impressed with their web site. TWiki is a high-traffic, high-powered system.
  • PmWikianother engine written in PHP. Their web page also looks nice and lists lots of current users which gives a good idea of what its capabilities are. Many of the sites are small installations.

TWiki and MediaWiki are high-horsepower systems for big sites and PhpWiki and PmWiki are more appropriate for small sites. I want minimal overhead and maintenance at this point, so I’ll start small and move up later.

I selected PhpWiki for my first attempt, swayed by the “runs out of the box” promise. It installed out-of-the-box, as I didn’t have to modify my Apache configuration files or install any other rpm packages. However it didn’t run out-of-the-box, and the configuration was rather tedious. It has a configurator, but it is apparently newer than that installation doc that I read. After a couple of hours playing with it, I decided thumbs-down on the out-of-the-box claim.

Next up, PmWiki. It did run out-of-the-tarball and essentially met all of my initial expectations. Installation configuration is straightforward, well documented, and confined to one file. All of the user-created pages go into the wiki.d sub-directory. Based on the painless installation and quick learning curve, PmWiki is my choice for our wiki engine.

posted in wiki by Bozzie

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