See wiki software for an overview of other options, the most notable of which is mediawiki. Most people referring to wikis refer to a mediawiki-based service not one using tikiwiki.

See wiki for an explanation not confined to tikiwiki itself.

first time user?

A wiki enables users to create and edit an unlimited number of content pages, even if they don't know any HTML. On the surface, the wiki feature can be thought of as an easy-to-use tool for making information visible in the public web — but this view understates their significance.

Wikis are the most useful tool yet created for online teamwork and collaboration. They bring to the public the same advantages that software engineers have long had in their work: group access to an easily-changed repository of everyone's work, easily modified without the absurd requirement to ask anyone's permission to do so.

If you are unconvinced, then see "Understanding Wikis," below, and take a look at "Feature Overview," also below, for a birds-eye scan of the many capabilities of TikiWiki's implementation of wiki. See fatal tikiwiki flaw and for a counterview of its problems.

Understanding Wikis

A Wiki is a computer-based collaboration system based on three major principles:
  • Ease of Use Users shouldn't have to learn HTML or deal with complicated file upload/download protocols, and the inevitable file format incompatibilities, in order to create and maintain documents collaboratively. Typically, wikis solve these problems by using their own, easy formatting syntax (called wiki syntax though this varies by the exact wiki software used) and by enabling users to create and maintain documents with a web browser.
  • Wide-Open Read/Write Access If the purpose of a wiki is wide-open collaboration, then every document in the wiki should be instantly available for editing and revision — and what's more, anyone should be able to edit an existing wiki document (or create a new one) without having to get permission from authors or supervisors.
  • Emergent Structure In physics and biology, the term emergent structure is used to describe the striking (and often beautiful) patterns that emerge from fundamentally chaotic processes, such as the spiral arms of our galaxy. In a Wiki, this term refers to the navigation structures that Wiki users invent as they try to impose pattern and meaning on a collection of Wiki pages.

Few would debate that online collaborative tools should be easier to use, but the second of these two principles — "Wide-Open Read/Write Access" — sounds risky to most people. But don't get scared off just yet. In TikiWiki (as in most other leading wiki packages), you don't have to throw open your Wiki pages to the whole, wild Internet. You can:
  • Use Permissions Restrict Wiki page-editing rights to registered users, or to more narrowly defined user groups, or to forbid page editing entirely, if you wish.
  • Lock Pages Any individual Wiki page can be locked by the site admin or page author so that the content can't be altered.
  • Monitor Important Pages You can monitor a page, which means that you're notified (via e-mail) whenever a change is made.
  • Restore from Page Histories If someone messes up a page, not to worry. TikiWiki (again, like most Wiki packages) keeps a detailed history of all the changes made to a given page. Previous versions can be quickly restored — typically, in less than one minute — without having to fuss with backup tapes.

Don't let the wide-open read/write access philosophy scare you off.

Throughout the world, leading corporations and universities are quietly using wiki software to facilitate team-based, collaborative writing — in software projects they've been using the same technology for 20 or sometimes 30 years.

They report success after success. To be sure, authors need to know what they're getting into; after all, someone might come along and make changes to the "brilliant page" they just posted. (Of course, the original author can go back in and remove the changes, but it would be much better to revise the page to show that there are differing points of view!)

To avoid ego-related squabbles, TikiWiki administrators need to explain the Wiki philosophy to team members (and provide plenty of tools that enable users to work through conflicts regarding page content).

Historical Note The term Wiki is short for wiki-wiki, which means quick in Hawaiian. Ward Cunningham applied this term in 1995 to his implementation of the software repository technology he was already using as a software engineer. He is often wrongly reported as having "invented" Wiki. Technically he invented the WikiWord, a now-deprecated convention for page names. The Wikimedia Foundation administers the largest body of wikis, including the Wikipedia, the largest single wiki anywhere.

Feature Overview

TikiWiki's Wiki feature enables users as well as admins to create virtually limitless numbers of readable, Web-accessible pages without the need to learn HTML or master complicated file uploading protocols. No matter who originally created a given Wiki page, it is almost instantly accessible for editing, providing the user has the appropriate permissions and the page has not been locked.

When a page is opened for editing, authors edit in tikiwiki syntax, a set of formatting codes that is incompatible with the wikitext standard that Wikipedia has made universal.

HTML edits are also possible. Even if they use no formatting at all, the saved page will still look pretty much as the author intended — TikiWiki reproduces carriage returns and blank lines they way they look in the textarea input box. Optionally, Wiki pages can include graphics , and users (with the appropriate permissions) can attach files of any type. Tikiwiki plugins enhance it with split-page formats, a Jabber client, automatically included article text, and many more). A category can be applied to a page if tikiwiki categories, administrators.

Users can include three types of links in Wiki pages: internal links to another local page, external links and external wiki link).

When a saved page is displayed, users (assuming they have the appropriate permissions) can save the page to their local systems, export the page to a PDF file, view the page in a format suitable for printing or save the page to their MyTiki notepad.

They can also watch pages, which lets them optionally receive e-mail if a change is made to the page. They can view page history including previous versions of the page and differences among them. A list of pages (called backlinks) that contain links to the current page. appears. An automatically generated list of similar pages can also appear.

Further Reading