Here at MUO, we’ve covered a number of free Wiki tools you can use to accomplish these tasks. Saikat covered a list of four Wiki tools that you can install locally for when you need the Wiki solution offline. Tina offered 3 online Wiki tools you can use to help with your studying needs. The solution that I’d like to cover today offers what I believe is the best solution – a Wiki tool called Tiki Wiki that you can host on your own web server so that you can decide exactly how it looks and functions, and at the same time you can access your Wiki from anywhere in the world.
Using Your Own Hosted Wiki
Why would you want to host your own Wiki site? That’s an easy question to answer. If you host it, then you own it. You can choose the appearance, manage the users and the content, and you can decide what features are available. This is especially true with the self-hosted Tiki Wiki, which offers far more features than most other Wiki platforms out there.
Also, the beautiful thing about Tiki Wiki is that the setup process is just as easy as installing a self-hosted WordPress blog. Just download the files to your PC, unzip them, and then FTP them up to your web host account under a subdirectory called something like /tiki/. You run the setup procedure by going to the /tiki/ subdirectory on your site and the installer will automatically open. Just follow the steps, including setting up the database connection (hopefully you’ve already created the MySql database with an admin user that has full permissions.
Once the installation is complete, you have the option to choose from several pre-made profiles, depending on how you choose to use Tiki Wiki. These profiles are basically configurations where a certain segment of features are enabled depending on whether you’re using the Wiki as a collaborative blogging platform, as an internal company portal, or as a public collaborative community.
If you’re not sure exactly what you want to enable and what you don’t, then choosing the manual Administration option is the best way to go. In the Administration area, you’ll find the configuration menus for every feature that is available on Tiki Wiki, including importing RSS feeds, managing comments, managing the wiki pages, and much more. To choose the features you want to enable for your Wiki, just click on “Features“.
Trust me, the first time you look around in here, you’ll be blown away. This isn’t your typical Wiki – the platform extends far beyond simple Wiki pages. You can activate blogs (multiple blogging pages for your users), articles, a file management area, integrated Google Maps, Surveys, Quizzes and a whole lot more.
Another fun section to explore is the “Experimental” area, but keep in mind that these are features still under development, so there could still be bugs. One thing that’s apparent is that Tiki Wiki has an active programmer base – there are so many “add-ons” to choose from!
In my opinion, one of the most unique things about Tiki is that you can integrate Facebook and Twitter right out of the box. You will have to register the domain where you are running Tiki Wiki as a new application for each social network, but once you’re done, your Wiki users will be able to use the connectivity between your Tiki Wiki platform and their social network accounts.
Individual Wiki pages, if that’s what you’re using Tiki for, are very simple to edit. Just use the WYSIWYG editor and you’ll be pumping out multiple pages in no time.
The collaborative spreadsheet area is also pretty cool. This is pretty similar to the Google Docs spreadsheet app where you can share out multiple spreadsheets. Here, anyone can create a shared spreadsheet, and all of them are listed under “Spreadsheets” in the side menu.
Then there’s the useful collaborative calendar (think GTD), which will show up in the menu as well, so long as you’ve enabled the feature in the settings menu.
Unlike many Wiki systems where navigation can feel a little bit complicated, navigating at Tiki is just a matter of clicking on the side menu and then drilling down to where you want to go. If you’re logged into an admin account and click on “Admin“, you’ll see all of the Admin tools available to you.
One last feature I wanted to mention (there are far too many to cover them all in one article) is the RSS feed tool. Using the RSS feed tool, you can have Tiki read and import content from external RSS feeds and bring them into the Wiki environment for all users to read. This is a very cool way to create a news area with news stories that serve the common interests of your Wiki users.
Overall, the ease of installation and the huge variety of available add-on features for Tiki Wiki really make it one of the best self-hosted Wiki platforms I’ve ever seen. The large and active developer base is always a strong bonus.
Give Tiki Wiki a shot on your own server and see if it offers everything you need in a collaborative group environment for your team. Make sure to offer feedback or tips on ways to make use of it in the comments section below.