Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Roger Strukhoff, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Anders Wallgren

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
The vision of a connected smart home is becoming reality with the application of integrated wireless technologies in devices and appliances. The use of standardized and TCP/IP networked wireless technologies in line-powered and battery operated sensors and controls has led to the adoption of radios in the 2.4GHz band, including Wi-Fi, BT/BLE and 802.15.4 applied ZigBee and Thread. This is driving the need for robust wireless coexistence for multiple radios to ensure throughput performance and th...
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 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 solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CDS Global Cloud, an Infrastructure as a Service provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CDS Global Cloud is an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provider specializing in solutions for e-commerce, internet gaming, online education and other internet applications. With a growing number of data centers and network points around the world, ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Big Data has been changing the world. IoT fuels the further transformation recently. How are Big Data and IoT related? In his session at @BigDataExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will explore the interplay of Big Data and IoT. He will anatomize Big Data and IoT separately in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. He will then analyze the relationship between IoT and Big Data, specifically the drilldown of how the 4Vs of Big Data (Volume, Variety,...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
Vidyo, Inc., has joined the Alliance for Open Media. The Alliance for Open Media is a non-profit organization working to define and develop media technologies that address the need for an open standard for video compression and delivery over the web. As a member of the Alliance, Vidyo will collaborate with industry leaders in pursuit of an open and royalty-free AOMedia Video codec, AV1. Vidyo’s contributions to the organization will bring to bear its long history of expertise in codec technolo...
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, will discuss recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model f...
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
Technology vendors and analysts are eager to paint a rosy picture of how wonderful IoT is and why your deployment will be great with the use of their products and services. While it is easy to showcase successful IoT solutions, identifying IoT systems that missed the mark or failed can often provide more in the way of key lessons learned. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Peter Vanderminden, Principal Industry Analyst for IoT & Digital Supply Chain to Flatiron Strategies, will focus on how IoT de...
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, provided tips on how to be successful in large scale machine learning...
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...