Saturday, February 04, 2012

Wiki impressions: XWiki

After a disastrous SharePoint 2007 to 2010 migration [1] it was clearly time to replace my team's use of SharePoint wiki. The mangled conversion was a red-flag-and-air-raid-siren declaration that SP was going to be a longtime world of hurt.

We looked around at the wiki options, and considered TWiki, XWiki and Confluence (WikiMatrix). Atlassican Confluence is the best of breed, but for corporate users like us it's expensive. Hardware we have, platform licenses we have, networks and backups we have, and expertise we have. What we don't have is a budget.

TWiki is the easiest of the three to configure and it has the fewest technical requirements. XWiki looked like more work, but we liked the rich text editor and (limited) table support. We're now starting up on XWiki enterprise. Here are a few impressions from the process that may be of interest to other wiki searchers ...

  • We started out on a Linux server but couldn't get XWiki working. We're not Linux experts. We switched to Windows and our engineer resource had XWiki setup within a day. I wasn't impressed with the ease of installation.
  • XWiki requires a Java Servlet Container. That rules out Dreamhost and many other hosting options. (TWiki can install with Dreamhost.)
  • XWiki includes a blog service but there's no support for Blogging APIs. So you can't use MarsEdit or Windows LiveWriter to write.
  • The documentation is weak. For example, how do you delete a Space? Turns out it's easy if you have privileges, but the documentation claimed we needed an extension.
  • XWiki Enterprise is a geek platform, though much of the complexity can be hidden.
  • I like the approach to URLs and page titles. You can change a page title, but the page URL is fixed. XWiki provides an effective UI for looking up local pages during link creation. (SocialText retitling creates a redirect page with the old title/url and a link to the new title/url. Sharepoint changes the URL and title, but updates intra-liki links. Foreign links break.)
  • The rich text editor is simple but works fine for my purposes.
  • IE 9 doesn't work with the controls on gadgets, but seems ok for non-admin users.
  • XWiki has the universal wiki curse -- no ability to migrate posts between systems. I wonder if people who complain about being unable to move their medical records between providers see the similarity. OTOH, when our Linux install failed it was easy to move to Windows.

I'm reasonably optimistic that XWiki will work for us. I'm glad to be free of Sharepoint 2010.

See also:

[1] With SharePoint it's not possible to separate software issues from implementation. Maybe Microsoft provides wiki conversion tools that our IT department didn't use. I have discovered that if I copy/paste of our 500+ SP 2007 wiki created pages into Word, then remove all styles, then past back into SP 2010, I can edit them again.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Gordon,

I realize this article is a bit old but I wanted to comment on a few things. First thanks for trying our XWiki and I hope that 1 year after you're still using it! :)

* Installation: I don't know what could have gone wrong. Installing is super easy on all OS. On unix all you need is to unzip a file and you're done. Nothing else to do (or use the provided setup wizard but that's not even needed since unzipping a file is so easy...)

* Hosting: You should know that XWiki SAS offers hosting too with XWiki Cloud:

* Universal wiki curse: First XWiki is polyglot and able to understand a lot of wiki syntaxes (see so you can easily migrate from other wikis. It also able to export any page into XML which makes it easy to reimport into another system.

* In general if you have issues or questions you can use our mailing list/forum, people are quite active there to help out:

Thanks again