Top 5 Tools for Building Wiki Websites and Projects
There probably aren’t many Internet users around who haven’t at least heard of Wikipedia the open encyclopedia of everything that can be contributed to by anyone who choses to do so.
What many probably aren’t aware of however, is that the Wiki software which drives the ‘net’s most popular user-edited website is readily available online, and can be used to create everything from niche Wiki sites on a single topic to powerful project collaboration tools, Knowledgebase systems, and even company intranets.
Below, I’ll take a look at just five of the best tools for building such sites, each one free to download, and many available through instant installation through your typical shared web hosting package. This depends on which web hosting package you may have though.
It would be pretty impossible to start this list with anything other the MediaWiki perhaps the most widely-used and well-known Wiki tool out there, and the platform of choice for Wikipedia itself.
Released under a General Public License (GPL), MediaWiki is a PHP software tool that should look familiar to anyone with who has ever explored Wikipedia's editing functions.
Out of the box, the tool requires a unique mark-up language to add content, edit existing pages, and take advantage of its multiple features.
There is however, an easy-to-use extension that can be installed to enable WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editing, which many first-time Wiki creators will find much simpler to use.
Other extensions can be used to great effect by more advanced users for incorporating scripts, displaying advertisements, showcasing multimedia and more.
Those of you looking to develop a Wiki for a group project, in-house document sharing, or intranet should find a lot to like with Twiki, which was originally developed to serve those exact purposes.
Pitching itself as an "open source enterprise Wiki and web application," TWiki is used by a number of the world's most well-known brands, with everyone from Internet companies like Google, ebay, PayPal, and Facebook to names like Walt Disney, FedEx, Michelin and Intel using it for their in-house projects.
Simple to use straight from install, the platform makes a better choice for novice Wiki creators than MediaWiki thanks to its intuitive interface and ability to enable non-technical users to develop web applications.
Much like DokuWiki (which we'll get to later) PmWiki can be used just as much for Wikis as it can for collaborating with others on developing and maintaining websites.
Whilst that certainly works in its favour, it's perhaps fair to say that the platform's pre-made templates leave a lot to be desired, and whilst you do have complete control to customise the look and feel of your projects, there are far easier ways to develop great looking website projects.
What I would say though, is that if you're looking to create an in-house collaboration tool, or even a public-facing Wiki that looks better than the standard Wiki projects, this one is definitely worth a look.
Driven by an MySQL and written in PHP, WikkaWiki has a lot more in common with MediaWiki, though actually serves as a better option for users with limited storage space on their hosting server.
Incredibly lightweight, WikkaWiki places a greater emphasis on speed and performance than its competitors, and takes up neither much room on a server nor much time to configure and start using.
Much as with others on this list, a range of plugins and add-ons can be used to extend the platform's functionality,including WYSIWYG editing. This one is particularly helpful for newcomers, as WikkaWiki 's default editing mode is to use its own markup language.
One of the more popular Wiki platforms out there, and a favourite of your writer, DokuWiki offers several advantages over others on this list.
Firstly, it doesn't require a database to function, instead storing all the data on simple, lightweight .txt files.
Secondly, it comes with over 70 pre-designed templates, which make it one of the most customisable and flexible Wiki builders around. Using the templates, along with a range of extensions to add all manner of functionality and user-interaction, DokuWiki has been used to great effect not only in building Wikis, but also as a general Content Management System for building websites and blogs.
Easy to setup, a breeze to maintain, and rivalling WikkaWiki in terms of its lightweight approach to document management, this is certainly one I recommend taking a closer look at.
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