Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Anders Wallgren, Elizabeth White, Flint Brenton, David Sprott, Tim Hinds

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 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...
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 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...
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 VAI, a leading ERP software provider, 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. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
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...
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 ...
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...
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 Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, 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. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
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...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...