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Wikis are a rare breed of websites – we all would agree on that. Designing a portfolio, corporate blog or any such website is an entirely different concept from designing wikis. When it comes to wikis, not only does the website ‘rise’ in terms of its size, but also in terms of complexity. Wikis need to be so designed that the finished website does not look clumsy or unorganized – no matter how much data it has, and at the same time is simple enough for even the most novice user to understand. Following that, and perhaps most importantly, wikis need to be edited not by an individual but an entire community – again, simplicity and ease of use come into play!
Content Management Systems meant for wiki websites, too, like wiki sites themselves, need to strike the right balance between robustness on one hand and ease of use on the other. In this article, we take a look at some of the most popular wiki CMSs out there!
Who doesn’t know Wikipedia? MediaWiki is used by Wikipedia as well as many other projects of Wikipedia’s parent organization Mediawiki Foundation. If you’re looking for a CMS for your wiki website, MediaWiki should be your safest bet! Not only is the CMS powerful, it is also very versatile and is ideal for any sort of wiki website.
DokuWiki is meant for developer workgroups, collaborating teams and small enterprises. As a CMS, it restricts itself mainly to documentation websites. The syntax is powerful and creation of structured texts is simple. Further more, DokuWiki does not need any database to run on as it stores all its data in plain files.
PhpWiki is another versatile wiki CMS. Unlike DokuWiki, it uses databases to store the information and is therefore, a slightly bulkier CMS. If you are looking for a nimble wiki CMS, PhpWiki might not suit your purpose. However, overall the CMS is a worthy competitor to all the others in the game.
PmWiki attempts to bring the WYSIWYG approach to wiki websites. In general, you do not have to employ extensive knowledge of HTML in order to develop a website using PmWiki. Indeed, such features make PmWiki ideal for users who are not well-versed in HTML. On the downside, PmWiki’s update frequency has been erratic in the past.
TikiWiki is known to offer many features ‘out-of-the-box’, such as setting permission levels for even the home page. It is loaded with numerous features, many of which might leave even the most experienced user overwhelmed. Currently standing at version 8.1 (stable), TikiWiki is a very popular CMS for wiki sites. It also features a bug/issue tracker mechanism as well as native support for RSS feeds and Calendar/Productivity addons.
While WikkaWiki may not be known due to its modest feature set, it is one of the swiftest CMSs coded in PHP to date. Its speed and ease of use are remarkable, and if you plan to create a small wiki site that may not require heavy CMSs, you should consider WikkaWiki as an option. It uses MySQL databases to store information.
JAMWiki is a JAVA clone of MediaWiki. Thus, it uses the same syntax as MediaWiki and is one of the leading wiki CMSs coded in JAVA.
Confluence Enterprise Wiki is an enterprise CMS that targets teams, workgroups and other collaborative entities. It is a paid CMS – for a website with 11-25 users, you’ll have to shell out $800. You can also opt to host it on their servers, for a monthly hosting fee. In any case, Confluence is an option mainly for enterprises and is definitely not the CMS for your not-for-profit website.
Canvas ColdFusion Wiki is a CMS built using Model-Glue. It keeps track of all the editing and revisions performed on each page and is a decent CMS for teamwork.
XWiki offers a generic platform for developing wiki websites. It is built using JAVA and is licensed under the LGPL open source license.
TiddlyWiki is a unique concept in its own right. In fact, it is not even a full-fledged CMS. It is a single file, that brings to you all the characteristics and functionality of a wiki (including the style sheets, editing, saving, searching, tagging, etc.). Since it is nothing more than a single file, it comes with the added advantage of portability – you may upload it on your web server, copy it on to your USB drive or email it to your friends.
MindTouch DekiWiki is another enterprise solution. It aims to boost the productivity and efficiency of enterprises by offering a simple and non-interfering CMS.
Don’t let the name fool you! ScrewTurn Wiki is a fast, powerful and simple ASP.NET wiki engine. It is free and open source (commercial licenses are also available). The installation process is straight-forward and ScrewTurn Wiki has also been localized into multiple languages.
TWiki is an enterprise collaboration platform and knowledge management solution. It is a structured wiki CMS that can act both as a groupware solution or a collaborative resource over the internet or intranet. TWiki’s niche lies in the fact that it is backed by a massive gallery of plugins/extensions.
With that, we come to the end of this round-up. If you’ve used any/all of the above CMSs, do share your experiences with us!
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Sufyan bin Uzayr is a freelance writer and artist. He writes for several print magazines as well as technology blogs, and has also authored a book named Sufism: A Brief History. His primary areas of interest include open source, mobile development, web CMS and vector art. He is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of an e-journal named Brave New World. You can visit his website, follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook and Google+.