Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Open Source Authors: Lori MacVittie, Roger Strukhoff, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Open Source, Linux, Eclipse

Open Source: 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
The Open Compute Project is a collective effort by Facebook and a number of players in the datacenter industry to bring lessons learned from the social media giant's giant IT deployment to the rest of the world. Datacenters account for 3% of global electricity consumption – about the same as all of Switzerland or the Czech Republic -- according to people I met at the recent Open Compute Summit in San Jose. With increasing mobility at the edge of the cloud and vast new dataflows being predicted with the growth of the Internet of Things (and The Coming Age of Many Zettabytes) in the near...
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabilities include HD voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, Web collaboration, deskt...
The list of ‘new paradigm’ technologies that now surrounds us appears to be at an all time high. From cloud computing and Big Data analytics to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT), today we have to deal with what the industry likes to call ‘paradigm shifts’ at every level of IT. This is disruption; of course, we understand that – change is almost always disruptive.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things compatible devices.
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed expressly to run Docker. He will also discuss Rancher, an orchestration and service discovery platf...
Sonus Networks introduced the Sonus WebRTC Services Solution, a virtualized Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) offer, purpose-built for the Cloud. The WebRTC Services Solution provides signaling from WebRTC-to-WebRTC applications and interworking from WebRTC-to-Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), delivering advanced real-time communications capabilities on mobile applications and on websites, which are accessible via a browser.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Proven by the world’s most demanding enterprises, including AAA NCNU, Constant Contact, Falck, Hootsuite, Pitney Bowes, Telekom Denmark, and VMware, Aria helps enterprises grow their recurring revenue businesses. With Aria’s end-to-end active monetization platform, global brands can get to market faster with a wider variety of products and services, while maximizin...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akana, formerly SOA Software, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Akana’s comprehensive suite of API Management, API Security, Integrated SOA Governance, and Cloud Integration solutions helps businesses accelerate digital transformation by securely extending their reach across multiple channels – mobile, cloud and Internet of Things. Akana enables enterprises to share data as APIs, connect and integrate applications, drive part...
After making a doctor’s appointment via your mobile device, you receive a calendar invite. The day of your appointment, you get a reminder with the doctor’s location and contact information. As you enter the doctor’s exam room, the medical team is equipped with the latest tablet containing your medical history – he or she makes real time updates to your medical file. At the end of your visit, you receive an electronic prescription to your preferred pharmacy and can schedule your next appointment.
The WebRTC Summit 2014 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Liaison Technologies, a leading provider of data management and integration cloud services and solutions, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Liaison Technologies is a recognized market leader in providing cloud-enabled data integration and data management solutions to break down complex information barriers, enabling enterprises to make smarter decisions, faster.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and sim...
Cloud is not a commodity. And no matter what you call it, computing doesn’t come out of the sky. It comes from physical hardware inside brick and mortar facilities connected by hundreds of miles of networking cable. And no two clouds are built the same way. SoftLayer gives you the highest performing cloud infrastructure available. One platform that takes data centers around the world that are full of the widest range of cloud computing options, and then integrates and automates everything. Join SoftLayer on June 9 at 16th Cloud Expo to learn about IBM Cloud's SoftLayer platform, explore se...
SYS-CON Media announced today that 9 out of 10 " most read" DevOps articles are published by @DevOpsSummit Blog. Launched in October 2014, @DevOpsSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce softw...