Writing user documents for our company, I ‘ve been using our corporate wiki a lot recently.

Confluence is incredible. I can honestly say I’ve not been impressed by a piece of software to that degree for quite a while.

I really like how it provides me with the possibility for creating small pages like “format specifications” and “installation info” which I can then assemble into e.g. “User’s manual” simple and seamless:


It’s so neat, it’s actually a pleasure to work with it. Need a document to provide to your customer? No problem – it will create a PDF file from that page so that the customer can even print it out conveniently. Bliss…

So I’ve decided that I want to get a wiki for myself. I want to create a wiki with some of my code sippets for the everyday use, some small text handling utility classes, simple solutions, with some coding standards for myself to use, and for my family… to be able to share the family annual stuff like birthdays or important dates, phones, addresses, some basic photos, some experiences and some simple facts, like which pizzerias we consider good, where do we plan to perform our next family meeting and so on and so forth. Accessible for all of us online.

The hosting provider however does not allow me for shell access and java, so Confluence is out of the question (it has a free private license for 2 users which would otherwise be just fine).

I’ve asked around and it looked like mediaWiki might be the answer, so our MediaWiki seems to be up and running. I am not sure though if it’s just me being a noob, but the administering of it seems to be a major pain in the rare. Need permissions changed? Edit php. Add new user without enabling public access to the wiki? looks like you’re facing the the grief of dealing with myPHPAdmin.

And the editing support is almost as good as notepad… *sigh*. There is no way my dad is going to use it in its current state. We’re definitely in need of some nicer theme for it that won’t leave him running form it, screaming. Perhaps I can equip it with some plugins as well to make it bareable?

Short of that, I think I’m still in the market for another wiki engine.

I’ve also setup TikiWiki for testing, although it seems a bit overwhelming for a casual user. I’ll see about customizing it for the family.

I’ll also be looking at Twiki in the following days.

I’m sure soon enough the kids or at least Martuska will want to have access to it. Boy, would it be nice to have a global family wikipedia, or what!?

There seems to be a plethorea of them to the degree that there are sites and huge matrices comparing them point by point.

Wikipedia comparison
WikiMatrix comparing some of the wikis I’m considering

[update 27-01-2007]
I think I’ll settle with media wiki after all. It’s really tedious to administer, but I can handle it. While tiki seems a bit too complicated and I think the family could have had troubles using it.

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This entry (Permalink) was posted on Wednesday, January 24th, 2007 at 7:57 pm and is filed under Lifestyle, Rants, Software, Web applications. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response , or trackback from your own site.

  • I started a wiki for my family some time ago, and clearly it is quite difficult to get people to use wiki syntax. On the whole, I still have problems trying to get my cousins / parents / uncles and aunts etc. to participate, but it could work with the younger generation (at least hopefully !).

    I eventually choose to use Netcipia because it is quite easy to invite new people (the wiki sends them an e-mail) and there is a WYSIWYG editor on top of the wiki one. There is also a “comments” feature at the bottom of every page with which many people feel more comfortable with than wiki pages. About administration, it is quite clean (no need to know php to use it).

    Netcipia is built on , which is an Open-Source Application wiki and looks quite cool (you can edit your own panels and get the wiki to look like what you want, it is more flexible than MediaWiki with its “one design fits all” policy ;-)

    I do not know Confluence well-enough yet, but I should consider giving it a closer look given the topic of my blog…

    Good luck for yourr own experiment !

  • Guillaume,

    I just recently switched my world from being totally desktop contric to a sligntly server based one. Somehow seeing the .com companies come and go, I have that subconcious fear that my carefully entered data may vanish with one of them or their discontinued products.

    I just feel more comfortable being able to backup the database and I’m determined to make it easy enough for them to edit it. I am also not 100% sure I’m willing to provide some third party with so much of my personal data to harvest. (Granted my current provider could do it too, but that would be much harder/pointless for a small general purpose hosting company).

    Luckily I am geeky enough to have my own hosted domain with php/perl/MySQL/Postgress support.

    I already added Google Maps support to the Mediawiki. I’ve written a plugin to show the person’s status on Tlen/GaduGadu (locally popular IM clients) and edited the wiki code/functionality to some extrent, which obviously is not possible or not easy enough for other general purpose hosted wikis.

    The nice part of using mediawiki is the ability to copy some of the documentation form the wikipedia help pages, which is really helpful given the terrible wiki markup it uses.

    I really wish though I could use the Attlassian Sonfluence. But I’m looking at Twiki at the moment and it shows some promisse.

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