Wikipedia is by far the most popular wiki in the world, currently featuring over 45 million pages in 301 languages. Nearly 500 visitors visit Wikipedia each month, and most of them have no idea that it’s possible to create a website just like Wikipedia for free and without any previous web development experience.
How? With wiki software products. We’ve picked top 5 best self-hosted wiki software products currently available, including the one that powers Wikipedia itself.
Created in 2002 by senior staff scientist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge Heinrich Magnus Manske and later improved by American computer programmer Lee Daniel Crocker, MediaWiki is a free and open source wiki software platform that powers many popular wikis, including Wikipedia, Wiktionary, and Wikimedia Commons.
MediaWiki is written in PHP well-suited for the LAMP stack. Because MediaWiki has been deployed so extensively for so many years, it’s one of the most powerful wiki software platforms out there, offering a long list of features and broad content organization options.
MediaWiki can be used with any world wide language, and it can be further customized using templates and extensions. If there is one major limitation of MediaWiki, it’s the fact that its syntax hasn’t been formally defined, which makes it difficult for third-party developers to create WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editors.
Whereas MediaWiki is being developed with the needs of Wikipedia and other large wikis in mind, TiddlyWiki is best-suited for smaller projects. It structures information in a unique way, using a hypertext card index system that uses Tiddlers as the fundamental units of information in TiddlyWiki.
You can think of Tiddlers as small snippets of information. They work best when they are as small as possible, and they can contain anything from text to images to audio to automatically generated lists. Tiddlers can be reused more than once, making TiddlyWiki perfect for capturing, organizing, and sharing all kinds of information.
DokuWiki is often described as a simpler alternative to MediaWiki. Although it’s available “only” in 50 languages and doesn’t offer nearly as many features as MediaWiki, users love it because of its clean syntax and remarkable ease of maintenance.
Over the years, DokuWiki has proven especially useful in the enterprise setting. Thousands of businesses and organizations use DokuWiki as a corporate knowledge base, project workspace, intranet, and more. DokuWiki doesn’t require too many resources, it’s fully open source, and is compatible with a wide variety of plugins and templates.
Plugins can be installed automatically via the extension manager or manually by copying them to lib/plugins/. For example, there’s a plugin that allows you to mas revert recent edits, one that restricts login access to designated IP addresses, or one that adds a comments section to wiki pages, just to name a few.
XWiki is a free and open source wiki software platform written in Java. It can be used either as a first-generation wiki or a second-generation wiki. According to XWiki, first-generation wikis are used to collaborate on content, while second-generation wikis can be used to create collaborative web applications.
Some examples of what can be created using second-generation wikis such as XWiki include blogs to communicate information or organize it using categories and tags, forums where participants can discuss important topics, task management platforms where users can create and assign tasks for designated projects, and more.
XWiki features a very robust WYSIWYG editor on top of powerful wiki syntax. It can be further extended with over 600 plugins, macros, skins, and themes provided by the XWiki community and core developers. If you’re looking for a powerful multiplatform wiki that emphasizes extensibility, XWiki is a great choice.
All wiki software platforms we’ve mentioned so far have been around for quite some time, and it sometimes shows. Wiki.js is different because it was first released in 2016 as a modern alternative to traditional wiki software platforms. It’s built on Node.js, Git, and Markdown, comes with a powerful visual editor, and is optimized to be low on system resources.
Wiki.js runs on any Linux, Windows, or macOS server, and it has an advanced caching functionality to speed up site access. Just like other wiki software platforms.
How to Install and Configure MediaWiki
To install MediaWiki, you’ll need three things:
- A web server to serve the requested pages to the client browser.
- Apache or IIS.
- PHP to run the software.
- PHP version 7.0.0 or later with Perl Compatible Regular Expressions, Standard PHP Library, JSON support.
- A database to store the pages and site data.
- MySQL 5.5.8+, MariaDB, PostgreSQL 8.3+, or SQLite.
If you meet all the requirements, you can download the latest version of MediaWiki from the official website and extract the archive to a web-accessible folder on your server.
Then, point your web browser of choice to the directory with MediaWiki files. Like this: http://yourwebserver.com/directory/mw-config/index.php.
Finally, follow the provided instructions to finish the setup process. For system-specific installation instructions, visit this page and scroll to the very bottom.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a cybersecurity expert, a passionate cook, or a master underwater basket weaver—you too can share your knowledge using one of the wiki software platforms described in this article and perhaps even create a thriving community of people who share the same interests as you.