Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Best Wiki Tools And Services: Sharewood Guide

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Every wiki platform has its own advantages and disadvantages. There are tens of different wiki solutions out there, and it can be a daunting task to choose the wiki platform that will best suit your needs. What characteristics are most important when deciding on your wiki platform? Price? Storage? Content access control? Where do you even get started when comparing wikis? For that matter what is a wiki? In this guide to wikis, we have attempted to answer your questions, and make your search for a wiki platform much simpler.

Photo credit: elmariachimud

A wiki is a collection of workspaces shared among users who can add, edit and upload informations as well as files of all kinds. A wiki is very useful for those groups that need to work on the same document at different times.

The first site ever called a wiki was WikiWikiWeb, created by the American programmer Howard G. Cunningham, considered the inventor of this form of sharing knowledge on the web. "Wiki" is originally a Hawaiian word that means "fast". Cunningham used this term to convey the idea of a document you can open and edit very fast.

With time wikis have become a valuable instrument for classrooms, fan clubs or sport teams. People can edit documents in a snap. Members just login and do the changes. No more e-mails been sent back and forth with your team. And because you select who has the permission to edit a page, a wiki is also kind of protected: other people can't get in.

In this guide you will find several tools and services to create a wiki.

Intro by Daniele Bazzano and Andre Deutmeyer

In this guide to wiki tools, we have reviewed five key wiki creation tools providing the best user experience and feature set among the many available.

Do you need to update your wiki via mobile? Do you want to receive updates in your email inbox, have a big amount of storage space to share content with your teammates? Then check these wiki tools we have tried for you and take advantage of the comparative table here below to evaluate which one is the best fit for your needs.

And if you need a wider choice, we have scouted the Web for collections of wiki tools and I have selected the best ones for you. You can browse these selected wiki collections according to a number of different categories we have setup for you. Free or with payment? Hosted or OpenSource? You decide.


How To Create A Wiki Comparison Table

go to the table!


How To Create A Wiki Tool List

  1. Google Docs
    Google Docs is a web-based solution to create documents, presentation, spreadsheets and forms. Even if not presented as a proper wiki, Google Docs indeed belongs to this sector of online collaboration tools. A document in Google Docs can be shared for collaborative work among up to 200 users, but just ten people can edit the document at the same time. Documents support embedded images while presentations support images and videos.

    Using Google Docs you can take advantage of the complete integration with other Google services, like Gmail, Groups or Calendar. A unique feature is the possibility to use the suite offline by downloading it on your Pc / Mac. Mozilla Firefox is required to have better performances on a Mac. No technical knowledge is required to use Google docs, and it's ads-free. Google Docs works on your mobile too (though just for viewing documents and not for editing purposes). Once your work is created, you can publish it on the Web by pasting the relevant HTML code, and you can receive notifications to your Gmail account when someone updates your shared document.

    Google Docs is free to use and the premium account that Google offers to pump up the other services, like Gmail, does not improve nor the storage space or adds any functionality. There is no storage space clearly specified, but every user can store a maximum of 5000 documents and presentations, along with 1000 spreadsheets.

    Unique features to Google Docs: Offline version available for full editing outside the Web.


  3. SocialText
    SocialText is a professional, web-based wiki service that lets you collaborate with other users on your projects. SocialText enables each user to access a shared document in a personalized way, because the layout of your wiki is made up of different modules re-arrangeable via drag&drop. The service works seamlessly on your mobile, and it's ads-free.

    SocialText allows you to do a side-by-side comparison between two different revisions of the wiki, to spot any difference in a very easy way. Almost any kind of file can be uploaded to SocialText, and images and videos can be embedded inside your wiki. SocialText wikis can be published on the Web by pasting the relevant HTML code inside a web page. Notifications via email or RSS can be set to notify you when someone edits your wiki.

    You can test all the functionalities of Socialtext for free for fourteen days, and then evaluate if sign up for a premium account (suitable for individuals and small business) at $10 per user / month. Every user gets unlimited storage space, and the possibility to invite as many people as needed.

    Unique features to SocialText: Side-by-side comparison between two different revisions of the wiki.


  5. MediaWiki


    MediaWiki is the only wiki reviewed that is not a hosted solution. Which means that if you want a wiki that you can just sign-up for and run with, this is not for you. MediaWiki is all software. So if you want it to work, you have to have your own server, and you need to set it up yourself. If you encounter difficulties, there is a very active community to help you out, however there is no 24/7 tech support desk - only volunteers. Furthermore if you want access control, MediaWiki won't give it to you. MediaWiki was not written to provide per-page access restrictions, and almost all hacks or patches promising to add them will likely have flaws somewhere, which could lead to exposure of confidential data. Additionally, MediaWiki does not include one click backup (though extensions do), rather you need to use MySQL for database dumps.

    With that said, however, because MediaWiki is open-source it is one of the most (if not the most) flexible wiki. What you sacrifice in ease of setup, you make up for in control. If you are confident in your PHP and MySQL skills then you can do amazing things with this platform. MediaWiki is the software that powers Wikipedia, so if you need something reliable and scalable, you might want to give MediaWiki a shot. You get some of the standard wiki features: excellent revision control, RSS / email notifications of page changes, HTML / CSS can be applied to templates. No native WYSIWYG editor for pages, however extensions are available.

    Pricing, Storage, Number of Users is not applicable because the MediaWiki is not a hosted solution.

    Unique features to MediaWiki: Not hosted, multilingual capability for UI, ever expanding extensions (addons) library.


  7. PBWiki


    You have access to the majority of PBWiki's features in its free service level for an unlimited period of time. The one downside is that you can have a maximum of three users who are allowed to edit the wiki, and the wiki is ad-supported. Furthermore certain goodies such as 'search' and 'analytics' are not available under its free service level. You must upgrade to one of its paid services for that. A large amount of personalization is available, though not as much as SocialText. Individual access can be controlled at multiple levels, from folder-level to page-level. You get all the standard wiki features: revision control, RSS / email notifications of page changes, HTML / CSS can be applied to templates, WYSIWYG editor for pages, easy backups in zip.

    PBWiki offers varying amounts of storage depending on how it will be used. For both Academic and Personal wikis, storage starts at 10 MB (free level) and goes up to a maximum of 5 GB (paid). The Business wiki does better and weighs in at 2 GB (free level) and 40 GB (most expensive level). Of the wikis reviewed here, PBWiki offers the least amount of available storage space.

    PBWiki pricing varies depending on how you plan to use it (Business, Academic, Personal). Free non-academic wikis are ad supported. As a Business solution, pricing is scaled so as you add more users, the price for user drops to as low as $4 dollars per user / month. For Academic and Personal wikis, pricing is fixed and paid annually. Academic Discounts are available for educational institutions.

    Unique features to PBWiki: Academic Discounts


  9. Wikispaces

    Wikispaces is probably the best beginner wiki and is a capable platform for larger organizations as well. It is intuitively easy to set up and customize. And if you have trouble the community offers a lot of support and the Wikispaces team is available via email. Unfortunately if you want to talk to somebody, you have to upgrade to their Private Label Premium setup. Like PBWiki, the free version is ad-supported. It does however lacks some of the flexibility of the others reviewed here. In both free and paid forms you get the standard wiki features: revision control, RSS / email notifications of page changes, WYSIWYG editor for pages, easy backups in zip. HTML / CSS customization of templates is only available for paid solutions. Wikispaces does not offer content access control features until you upgrade to one of the Private Labels.

    With storage space weighing in at 2 GB (free level) and 200 GB (most expensive level), Wikispaces provides plenty of space to store your wiki pages and media.

    Wikispaces pricing ranges from Free (ad supported) to $8000 per year for enterprise level organizations.

    Unique features to Wikispaces: All levels (free or paid) can have unlimited users, free wikis (not ad supported) for use by educators.


Learn More About Wiki Tools And Services

  • WikiMatrix


    WikiMatrix is a great solution to compare multiple wiki services. You can choose from a comprehensive list or use the Wiki Choice Wizard to select rapidly the best one that suits your needs. The wiki list is open to addition from users.

  • The Wiki Toolbox: 30+ Wiki Tools and Resources


    Mashable provides a list of the most common wiki tools and services ordered between hosted and open source solutions. Updated till last year, it remains a good source to have at a first glance all the best wiki solutions out there.

  • List of Wiki Software


    Wikipedia offers a page where many wiki tools and services are ordered by programming language: Java-based, Perl-based, Python-bases, and so on. All wiki engines are provided with a brief description.

  • Wiki Tools


    The big list provided by the e-Learning Centre enumerates both downloadable and hosted wiki tools and services in alphabetical order. Each tool is described by a very short review. Users can suggest valuable resources to be added to the list.

  • Top Wiki Tools


    A clear and well-organized wiki tools list by the Centre for Learning & performance Technologies. At a first glance you can identify (among many) the wiki service you need and check whether it is free, at payment, hosted or open-source

  • Wiki Resources


    This site, although a bit of an eye sore, provides a list of wiki related links that you can jump to. There are no reviews here, but to make up for that it lists not only links to wiki platforms, but also links to books, blog articles, screencasts, and wiki communities that will be helpful to learning how to take full advantage of your wiki, no matter which platform you choose.

  • Wiki Directory


    This wiki list comes from the depths of PHP Directory. It ranks wiki platforms according to Google PageRank and offers short descriptions of each wiki. As of the time of this review, only thirteen wiki platforms were listed.

  • Wiki Comparison Chart


    In this wiki comparison guide from Wikipedia, you get a mountain of information. No reviews are posted, rather what you get is four different comparison charts, each of which compares approximately 50 wiki platforms accross multiple criteria.

  • Wiki Index Engine


    Wiki Index does exactly what it sounds like it does. It provides a comprehensive list of links to wiki articles. Each wiki article contains a short review of the wiki platform and provides a links to outside resources for further exploration.

  • All the Wikis


    All The Wikis is a blog devoted to wiki reviews and resources. It provides a wiki FAQ section which is helpful, and each review provides an in-depth look at the wiki platform. However, some of the wiki reviews are dated, so don't take everything you read to heart. There is a chance that things have changed since the review was written, so keep that in mind as you browse All the Wikis.

If you know other wiki tools you feel should be included in this guide, please do not hesitate to add them via the Comments area here below.

Originally written and prepared by Daniele Bazzano and Andre Deutmeyer for MasterNewMedia and first published on October 30th 2008 as "Best Wiki Tools And Services: Sharewood Guide"

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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Thursday, October 30 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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