I didn’t have many requirements:
- It should look nice. So much software made by geeks looks rubbish and ugly.
- It should be easy to install and easy to use.
- It should have ‘discussion’ pages like Wikipedia because I like them and thought they might be useful.
It doesn’t seem like much to ask.
I first tried MoinMoin as it didn’t look horrendously ugly. My word, that was a pig to install. After one attempt I gave up following the installation instructions which are spread over several confusingly similar pages and try to cover every possible eventuality. I found someone who had written simpler instructions that just worked. But were still long.
There’s a plug-in to get Discussion pages working but it failed me, complaining about DiscussionTemplate being missing. And I could find nothing that would suggest how I find or make this. Plus, MoinMoin is way too complicated for me. And it looks complicated. Way too much going on.
So, onward. I thought about MediaWiki but it seemed even more overkill for my purposes than MoinMoin.
DokuWiki looked OK but I wasn’t entirely convinced about its ability to add Discussion pages.
I spent a little while playing with Drupal for the first time in years. It does a huge number of things and I thought it might be a good base for any future community-type stuff I’d want to do at Septivium. But adding a wiki involves a lot of customisation and while installing all the necessary extras went fine (seriously, I was hugely impressed with how easy Drupal and its modules were to install) the wiki still felt a bit of a kludge. Maybe I could have got it looking and working nicely but Drupal is so configurable it was a long learning curve.
So I set that aside, almost reluctantly, and moved on to PmWiki which is what I’ve settled on. It was extremely easy to install, looks pretty simple, and there’s a simple change to enable Discussion pages.
Although it’s not over-complex, it’s not the prettiest thing in the world. I tried another of its many themes, but the Discussion pages modification doesn’t work with some/most/all themes so I’ve reverted to the default theme.
There we go. I can’t believe it’s nearly six years since Tom Coates wrote about ugly wikis and a nice, simple design for a BBC wiki. Why are they all still so hideous and over-complex?