Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: SmartBear Blog, Tim Hinds, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Ram Sonagara

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Linux Containers, Eclipse

Open Source Cloud: Article

Dokuwiki - A Practical Open Source Knowledge Base Solution

Easy-to-use, intuitive and full-featured

(SYS-CON Media) - Whether you're a company of one or 100, managing knowledge is a core concern and implementing a knowledge base is a sensible way to capture your content. Dokuwiki is a practical open source Web application for creating a knowledge base that's easy for novice Webmasters to set up but flexible and full-featured.

The Dokuwiki Web site (www.splitbrain.org/projects/dokuwiki) describes the Dokuwiki as "a simple to use wiki aimed at a small company's documentation needs. It works on plain text files and thus needs no database. It has a simple but powerful syntax which makes sure the data files remain readable outside the wiki." Dokuwiki runs on a variety of Web servers, including Apache and IIS and requires PHP 4.3.x or higher. If you do not have your own Web server, you can install Dokuwiki on a hosted Web site, as long the Web host includes PHP access.

Features
Dokuwiki has many of the features you'd expect in a Web application, such as version control, templates, and plug-ins, and for the most part, you can quickly learn about them as you use the software. However, before you deploy Dokuwiki, you should learn how to use syntax, namespaces, and Access Control Lists (ACL), which will let you organize the site layout during installation, not three months from now.

The syntax is a text mark-up that formats the content on the wiki pages for display. For example, **text** displays as text. For me, typing the extra characters is easier than using a tool bar. For the point-and-click crowd, formatting can be inserted using quick buttons on the tool bar like a word processor.

Namespaces organize the page layout and the directory structure of the raw text files and do require specific syntax knowledge to implement when editing a page. The best way to explain namespaces is with an example. Suppose I want to organize my wiki into Support Documentation and Writing Projects. I'd edit my Dokuwiki start page and add the following text:

[[Support:Support Documentation]]
[[Writing:Writing Projects]]

This is Dokuwiki's simple syntax at work. The text in the double brackets signifies a link. The text that follows the colon is the page name, and the text preceding the colon is the namespace. When I save the edits, new hyperlinks to Support Documentation and Writing Projects are created. When I follow the links, and edit the new pages, Dokuwiki creates the dokuwiki/data/pages/support and dokuwiki/data/pages/writing directories. The text files for all pages created in the Support Documentation and Writing Projects pages will be stored in their respective directories, which let you easily retrieve the text files later.

If your wiki is going to have more than one user, you need to think about access control because Dokuwiki is wide open by default, which means that anyone can create or edit pages. That's the default wiki way but not necessarily the right way for you. Dokuwiki controls access with ACL, which can be used to grant levels of access based on users, groups, pages, or namespaces. The levels of access include read, edit, create, upload, and delete. Upload and delete access refer to media files.

Installation and Configuration
Assuming you already have a Web server configured, installation is straightforward and can be summarized in three steps. Download Dokuwiki to the Web server. Unzip the download file to the Web server's root directory. Configure the installation. For specific help, consult the installation instructions at http://wiki.splitbrain.org/wiki:Install for your server platform. You can have a functioning installation in 20 minutes, less if you skip the coffee break.

File permissions are the one sticking point of the installation, and every installation or upgrade I do ends up with a permission problem at some point. Dokuwiki, however, handles its errors well and if your data directory has insufficient write permissions or you're missing the changes.log file, the error will tell you that. To help troubleshoot page problems, append ?do=check to the end of the Dokuwiki URL to display the current page's permissions along with site installation details.

Even if you don't require users to register an account, you should set up ACL so you can specify a superuser. Only the superuser can access the administration page, which provides a graphical interface to manage users, plug-ins, access, and site configurations. Setting up ACL and assigning a superuser requires several extra configuration steps, and is the most convoluted process in a Dokuwiki installation.

Much to my surprise, project founder Andreas Gohr published a release candidate as I was writing my review. The release candidate included an installer that automated the creation of a superuser login and specified a default access level. Run the install.php script in the dokuwiki installation directory, and a form like the one pictured in the screen shot will display. Enter the requested information and save the changes. Login as the superuser to access the administration page and fine-tune the configuration settings as needed. The documentation covers the configuration settings in detail.

You are now ready to add content.

Use
Dokuwiki is easy-to-use and intuitive, in part because users create, edit, and read pages from a browser. To create content, select "Edit this page" to display an editable page. When done adding and formatting content, save the page to make the changes live.

While the "Old revisions" button is easy to spot, the process to restore a previous version is not discernible while looking at the page. To go back to an old version, use the "Old revisions" button to view changes by date. Select the desired version to display it in the browser. Edit and save the page to restore the previous version.

At first glance, Dokuwiki's default view appears basic and lacks the side-navigation panels we've grown to expect from modern Web applications. Several templates are available from the Dokuwiki site, including one with a Wikipedia feel; however, I prefer the clean look of the default template because it puts the emphasis on my content, not graphics or panels.

Dokuwiki's navigation aids include backlinks, the wiki title, breadcrumbs, and a table of contents. Click on the page name to get a list of backlinks, or pages that refer to the current page. The page name displays left-aligned at the top of the page such as [[start]]. The wiki title displays right-aligned at the top of the page such as "Wiki on Coyote" (the current name of my site) and is a link that takes you back to the default start page, while the pages viewed most recently are available as "breadcrumbs" letting you trace the last few pages in your history. Each page builds a table of contents based on the header levels defined in the page, which facilitates navigation within the page itself.

Not all navigation is done with a mouse, and Dokuwiki includes several access keys that you can use as keyboard shortcuts. For example, use ALT + E to edit a page and ALT + H to return to the start page; use ALT + B to make text bold. Check out the documentation or hover your mouse over a button to get more access keys.

Final Review
As I leave you to build your knowledge base, remember that Dokuwiki is only a tool. It will not make your documentation better, but I've focused on the features that will help you deploy a well-organized and easy-to-manage knowledge base. Your wiki needs human attention and editorial control to grow into a useful resource for you, your teams, and your customers.

More Stories By Mike Badger

Mike Badger is a technical Ccmmunicator and author of 2 books - Zenoss Core Network and System Monitoring and Scratch 1.4 Beginner's Guide, available from Packt Publishing. He's also a project manager for MoJo Active, an marketing and web design firm in Central Pennsylvania.

He raise honeybees, pigs, and a family.

Michael Badger is a technical communicator who has devoted his career to translating technical concepts in a way that helps people learn, adapt, and troubleshoot their computer software. He wrote two books with Packt Publishing: Zenoss Core Network and System Monitoring and Scratch 1.4 Beginner's Guide.

For fun, he grows pigs, raises honeybees, fishes, and spends time with his family.

For more information visit, badgerfiles.com.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
imho 01/04/07 03:12:33 PM EST

Dukowiki has a simple syntax which makes sure the datafiles remain readable outside the Wiki and eases the creation of structured texts.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, will discuss how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from mil...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...