Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Wiki Software II

As I was searching the net for a suitable wiki solution, suitable for me means matching my requirements which are: easy to install and maintain, export capability and standalone application which runs on an usb flash stick. I found a couple of great sites which give a very good overview of all the wiki engines.

The first site I found was wiki.splitbrain.org, irrespective of the disturbing name, it gives a very good overview of wiki engines. The site is well maintained, at the time of my visit the last update was just two days ago. Unfortunately all the wikis listed on this site don't satisfy my requirements, since they are all web based.

Another site I found was c2.com, the cool thing about this site is that it lists all wiki engines by technology/programming language. For me this site gives the best overview of current wiki engines. Like the other site it's also well maintained, last update was two days ago. So this was my starting point, which led me to the first wiki engine I checked out: XoYnKi.

XoYnKi is a Java based wiki engine, which runs in a small proprietary application server. You just need to download the jar and execute it, the console output will tell you on which port the server listens. Then you open your browser and point it to this site, then you are ready to go. This would have been the perfect solution for me: easy to install and maintain (it's Java) and standalone. Unfortunately there is no documentation, or maybe I didn't find it, and there is no way to export your data. Since there is no development site whatsoever, which means no progress, no improvement, no bug tracking and so on, I think that's not the solution of my choice.

The next wiki engine I checked out was TiddlyWiki. It's based on HTML, CSS and JavaScript, which means there is no server necessary whatsoever. This is a very charming approach, since it really only needs one HTML file. From the website you can download an "empty" wiki HTML file and start your wiki instantly. There is a development website and a good tutorial. You can export your data to an rss feed and you can save backup HTML files of your wiki. Unfortunately the JavaScript is a little dull on slow machines, which gives you a hard time when trying to navigate quickly. But I think altogether think approach is very appealing and fits my requirements perfectly.

The third wiki application I took a look at is the "Wiki on a stick" solution of MediaWiki. It consists of a standalone server, called Uniform Server, which serves as platform for the MediaWiki software. Uniform Server is really cool, it contains Apache Webserver, PHP 5, MySQL, Perl and phpMyAdmin. It runs as a standalone application, you just download it and run the start.bat script that's it. The server will create a drive with letter w, that's where you'll find the directory www, where you'll put MediaWiki. MediaWiki is the same software wikipedia uses, and is therefore stable and tested. It is easy to install and the fact that it runs with PHP and MySQL maks it easy to maintain. The "Wiki on a stick" solution is great! I really like it, not only because it satisfies all of my requirements.

The conclusion is, that there are solutions out there that fit the requirements: easy to install and maintain, export capability and standalone application which runs on an usb flash stick. For me I think the TiddlyWiki is the best solution, since it's small and compact. The "Wiki on a stick" solution might be overkill for my purpose, but I like the solution a lot. I also tested SnipSnap, which runs on an embedded servlet container (jetty), but in my opinion it's more to a blog than a wiki. Well, I haven't decided yet, there is still some time to evaluate.

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