Wiki's: The agile way to document

Wiki’s (see wikipedia for a description) are a nice and easy way to document.
Because of the agility it’s easier to maintain documentation. I often encounter documentation in word, which has aged and is not accurate anymore. Sometimes changes occure which just do not get documented, sometimes it is documented, but in the version of the one who did the changes, which is not uploaded back to the document location. Or in another document location.

Traditionally, for a wiki you need a webserver, an application server and storage (either in a database or just on the filesystem). In some cases (think tomcat, jboss) the application server can act as a webserver also.

But what if you want a personal wiki (just to put your own (installation|modification)logs, scripts, links, and other data), and you want wiki flexibility, but not the difficulty of starting webservers etc.?

The maximal minimalistic approach is here: Wiki on a Stick, a wiki that consists of one self-modifying XHTML file.

  1. Hello Frits,

    We have been using Atlassian Confluence in our enterprise for a few months now, and I have to say a wiki is a fantastic way of maintaining a document repository.

    A personal wiki is no bad thing, but the only thing I have against wiki on a stick is how portable is it? Can i maintain this during the 9-5 at my desktop and still update from the laptop at other times?

    Perhaps some online webservice is required here?

  2. The sole function of wiki on a stick is to have a personal space for documentation. This one is so great because it’s a single file (size will probably be a problem at some stage).

    If this single file is on a memory stick (what is the intended function by the creator), you can take your personal notes anywhere. Even in a restrict client environment, where you are not allowed to use your own laptop (you must be allowed to use your own memory stick of course 🙂

    For company documentation you need a webservice, and probably access control, concurrency control etc.

  3. We are using Confluence Wiki (commercial) for our knowledge base. Its pretty much ok, but after 3 years of using it, the knowledge base has grown to a size that finding any specific bit of information is a big challenge. The built-in search engine is simply not good enough, and wiki-style navigation doesn’t seem to scale well.

  4. I have blogs-on-the-brain. I *meant* “portable wiki” of course.

  5. Dan said:

    Check out Luminotes, a personal wiki notebook:

    It’s not portable like wiki on a stick. But because it’s web-based, it has other advantages like the ability to share your wiki with friends. And you don’t have to use any wiki markup syntax to make a wiki with Luminotes.

  6. Dave Edwards said:

    @Dan: “And you don’t have to use any wiki markup syntax to make a wiki with Luminotes.”

    From the Luminotes website: “Luminotes is a wiki without the markup learning curve.”

    That’s a *disadvantage*. With Luminotes, I have to do the silly word-processor mousing around and pressing buttons? No thank you.

    Luminotes seems to be trying to assert a value proposition based on the idea that wiki markup is too hard for “the rest of us”. But the whole point of wiki markup is that *it* is easier than *HTML*, and that anyone can learn it.

    I find it takes about 30 seconds to learn the wiki markup for any wiki I’m not familiar with. That little effort immediately pays off in being able to write in a continuous way, rather that fiddling with GUI controls.

  7. Hi, never used Wiki before but definitely going to give it a go, thanks for all the information.

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