By Alyssa Gregory

Pick a Winner: How to Choose the Right Wiki for Your Business

By Alyssa Gregory

WikiYesterday, I wrote about wikis and all of the ways you can use them to support your business and various projects you have in the works (see: Use a Wiki to Run Your Business More Efficiently). Today, I’m going to provide a list of criteria you should consider when making your wiki selection, as well as a list of wiki tools and a site that provides comparisons to help you narrow down the options so you can get started with a wiki right away.

Wiki-Selection Criteria

Not only are there hundreds of wiki tools available, but there is a vast list of features you can choose from. Here is a rundown of some of the primary criteria you will want to consider before you pick a wiki for your business.

  • Hosted or self-installed
  • Maximum storage capacity
  • Wiki syntax or HTML formatting
  • WYSIWYG editing or plain text
  • Page templates or freeform
  • Version tracking and page history
  • File upload functionality
  • Cost

Some other usability criteria you may want to consider includes the ease of registering and sharing data, a spell-checker, hyperlink support, RSS feeds, search functionality and rich text formatting (such as bulleted lists, tables, etc.).

The best way to get started is by outlining how you intend to use the wiki and making a list of your must-haves. Since this will be specific to your needs, it pays to spend some time thinking through the process before testing out various wikis.

Using a Wiki Comparison Site

Once you have an idea of how you want your wiki to serve you, WikiMatrix is a great starting point. On this wiki comparison site, you can use the wizard function to walk you through a process that narrows down the list of available Wikis that fit your needs.

The wiki wizard also provides explanations about what the different criteria means in a generalized way that’s easy to understand. And it gives you a summary of how many wikis fit your criteria after each step.

8 Wiki Tools Worth Your Consideration

Whether you’ve used a comparison tool, or if you want to find the perfect wiki on your own, you will likely have a list of wiki tools that you’ll want to test out. Here is a listing of some of the most popular wikis and what you can expect from each.

  1. BusinessWiki: A paid SaaS professional wiki solution that provides visual editing, PDF creation, backups, RSS feeds and a lot more.
  2. CentralDesktop: A wiki designed for business teams that provides discussions, blogs, file management, task lists, light calendaring and permission management. Free and paid versions available.
  3. MediaWiki: Self-installed free software that was originally created for use on Wikipedia.
  4. PBwiki: A very popular wiki solution for business and education that includes free public and private wikis, custom subdomains, unlimited pages and traffic, and text and WYSIWYG editing support. A paid option is also available.
  5. ProjectForum: A free locally installed wiki for small-to-medium teams who need to collaborate. Features include WYSIWYG editing, attachments, page templates, RSS feeds, cross-platform compatibility and more.
  6. Springnote: A free online wiki that works like a notebook and provides easy collaboration, quick WYSIWYG editing, an autosave feature and a lot more.
  7. TiddlySpot: A simple, free browser-based JavaScript wiki that you can update online or offline.
  8. Zoho Wiki: A free hosted wiki service, with features including version control, notifications, custom domain names, unlimited storage, WYSIWYG editing, page templates and more.

Do you use a wiki in your business? Which service do you recommend and how did you choose it?

  • David

    Don’t forget Foswiki, the Free Open Source wiki (foswiki.org). Foswiki is an excellent enterprise wiki that enables all of the normally expected functions of a wiki, and adds capabilities to build wiki applications with structured data pretty easily. Foswiki benefits from a lively, active community of developers and users, meaning the software is constantly being improved.

  • Jonas

    What about Confluence?

  • W2ttsy

    @Jonas, im right with you there. There isnt nearly enough Atlassian love here… 15800 companies cant be wrong when they chose Confluence. Coupled with the rest of their wares, its an agile dream come true.

  • Anyone know a wiki that has requirements tracking/management as well as roadmapping planning for product/project management? Our team likes PBWiki, but it does not have much in that department. We also are looking for a wiki that can create excel/word reports- which PBWiki cannot do either.

  • W2ttsy

    @jgwebdesigner you should check out JIRA w/ Greenhopper (from Atlassian^). It is an issue tracker with an Agile layer added to the top. For your needs, you would enter each requirement as a new issue and then assign to the relevant team member. You can then use Greenhopper to simulate the “card” concept from SCRUM and that will assist in your task tracking.. Since its integrated with Confluence, you can import relevant JIRA issues from a project into a wiki page.

    For instance, you may have a detailed version of the requirement as a confluence page, and then have each of the tasks related to the requirement at the bottom from a JIRA feed. You could also have a chart gadget on the page that shows a ratio between complete and incomplete issues. This is how i have my requirements set up and its great.

    Between the starter licenses and evaluation licenses, you should be able to find something you need to try it out.

    ^ I am not an Atlassian employee, just a HUGE evangelist! :)

  • Dan P

    @jgwebdesigner – We use Trac which integrates a wiki (dervied from MoinMoin) with a ticketing system, a roadmap and a version control system interface (typically SVN). You can get CSV reports on tickets but I’ve not seen Word/Excel output.

  • Chris Yeh

    @jgwebdesigner have you tried PBworks’ Project Edition? We have project management tools built into that version of the product.

    –a PBworks employee

  • Yoon

    love Springnote. found a good example of using Springnote in education http://alves.springnote.com/pages/4476337
    and business http://brandedebooks.springnote.com/pages/4357383

  • Tony

    Our company is using Wetpaint, which also has an API if we wanted to display the contents more professionally.

  • Abbe

    If you make the jump from free, open-source wikis to proprietary/SaaS, there are some truly dynamic options. I work with SamePage, and version 4.2 has a number of valuable enhancements. Anyone can get a free trial at http://www.etouch.net.

  • Snapey

    I’m looking for a wiki that allows easy documentation of code snippets (API usage examples) ideally with syntax highlighting, as well as screenshots. Any suggestions?

  • W2ttsy

    @Snapey, Atlassian to the rescue again. Confluence wiki with Crucible for peer review, Fisheye for source control viewing and JIRA for issue tracking.
    There products are all integrated, and have plugins for Eclipse and Intellij IDEA as well. The whole suite is geared at developers, but it can be adapted for other purposes as well.

    I personally have Confluence storing my detailed document specs (as well as other company policies), with links to the tasks in JIRA. Then I use Green Hopper to manage the agile side of the development by allocating tasks to the developers on my team. We use Fisheye to view the repository (SVN in this case) and Crucible for peer code review. We also use Clover for code coverage testing and have a Bamboo server for builds and unit testing. Then finally all our users enjoy single sign on via Crowd… In fact we pretty much have the entire product suite installed…

    Your needs are obviously going to be different to mine, but we have found substantial increases in productivity since activating the software a while back. Since i also have a small team (less than 10) i was able to use the starter licenses for most of the products, and then forked out for Clover and Crucible. But IMO, peer code review and tracking code coverage was very important to us so it was a no brainer. There is some 300k lines of code in our product, and its growing daily. In fact i don’t even know how we dealt with this stuff before installing the product suite…

  • Tom Davies

    I *am* an Atlassian employee.

    @snapey If you decide to use Confluence, have a look at the snippet plugin: http://confluence.atlassian.com/display/CONFEXT/Snippet+Plugin — you can include code directly from subversion in your page, which ensures that it stays up to date.

  • AnilG

    Out priority requirements were #1 FILE UPLOAD and #2 ACCESS CONTROL. This is a must for business wikis so that you can publish to the rest of the organisation without allowing update.

    It surprised me how few wikis support ACLs. We went for MoinMoin wiki. It also supports HIERARCHICAL SUB PAGES and can make one page into a SLIDESHOW by hopping from title to title or multiple pages into a SLIDESHOW using the MoinMoin macros feature.

  • Anonymous

    Tiddlyspot is not that useful for collaboration due to the fact that it’s essentially single user. It’s great for a personal notepad type of wiki though.

  • Jean Pickering, The Tektite Group, LLC

    I always recommend WikiSpaces. After investigating and working with many of the “popular” wikis, I determined that WikiSpaces gives me the most functionality and flexibility to do what I want. I can make a wiki look like a traditional website or like a traditional wiki. I can have a public website, a private website, a protected website, or a public website with some private pages. I have full control over the security access to my websites. I have complete control over the look and feel via the use of CSS. I can have custom domains and expand the functionality of any page by using a slew of wikis that are available on the web. I can backup the website to my own PC and/or let them do it. With WikiSpaces, I am only limited by my creativity. That is not true with many of the hosted wiki service providers on the internet.

  • Twiki user

    How about Twiki ? (http://twiki.net). With over 500,000 downloads, over half the Fortune 500 as users, and advanced functionality that includes Wiki, Blogs, Forums, Enterprise Social Networking, application development platform, it’s more than just a wiki, it’s an enterprise collaboration platform

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