[Techtalk] wiki

Rachel McConnell rachel at xtreme.com
Wed Jun 4 12:33:38 EST 2003

Three wikis I'm familiar with, and my thoughts on each:

* JSPWiki
if you're familiar with any servlet container, JSPWiki is very easy to
install and use.  it isn't particularly feature-rich, but has all the
basics.  doesn't look like anything in particular.  it's easy to modify
but stringy - i wanted to change the look & feel significantly and i had
to make changes in many different places.  stores its data in flat files
instead of a database, one of the things that makes the install so
simple.  Pages are called with GET requests, making them uncacheable on
the server side, which may be an advantage or disadvantage depending on
your needs.

* CoWiki
A php-based Wiki, making it somewhat slower than JSPWiki.  I didn't
deploy this myself but heard that the deployment went fine.  I found it
MUCH harder to use, as it emulates the Unix filesystem in having a
directory structure and internal files, which must exist inside a
previously configured directory.  Unlike most other wikis, you must
create a page before linking to it.  there's a (unique?) set of
administration items you can do to directories and pages, such as
setting a home page for a directory, view & edit permissions, and so
forth.  This would be good for a few people needing to create a web site
that wouldn't update often, but IMHO the learning curve is too high for
casual users to want to bother.

* SnipSnap
A Wiki with attached blog, written in Java.  It's being developed as a
set of components, to some degree ;) which makes changing bits easier.
It uses a fully pluggable rendering engine called Radeox (although I'm
not aware of any other pluggable rendering engines so far).
Unfortunately (or not) it comes with its own web server, which we didn't
like as we wanted to integrate it with other applications.  OTOH for
someone who just wants a wiki, its install is VERY easy - unpack it, run
a batch file, & fill in some web forms to configure it.  We finally
settled on this one, as it has a fuller set of features, a reasonable
learning curve, & a better look & feel than either of the others we
evaluated (also it's entirely css based).  The other downside is that it
is a bit TOO feature-rich; there are some features I'd personally like
to remove as they are a bit confusing for newbies and not that valuable
for expert users.

there's some very helpful thinking on choosing a wiki here:


from which you can find other useful stuff (like a HUGE list of wiki


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