• What we have here, is a failure to communicate…

XWiki Enterprise – A User Experience (Review)

After spending 3 years trying to make MediaWiki work, I finally came to the conclusion that I was tired of trying to create documentation that was like creating an application. I write code all day, and I love it, but I don’t want to have write code to document my code – why is that so much to ask? Well, it seems that is a lot to ask, because as my quest to find solid Wiki software, that included a good WYSIWYG editor (without the system being complete overkill, like some were a full CMS with a  wiki component), was almost impossible.

I really wanted a system developed in PHP, as that is my primary development language and I almost never like anything out of the box. Alas, none were up to par, or like I said they were complete overkill. So, I expanded my search to include systems developed in any language, as long they were self-hosted solutions (I did not want off-site hosting.) Even after I became willing to look at just about anything, I found only a handful of Wiki systems that provided a WYSIWYG editor, and most of those that had one, were plugins that were were 3rd party or underdeveloped (or very, very very old.)

The other issue I had was the one system I found that I really liked, no, loved almost from the moment I used the demo was a Java server (servlet? forgive me Java gurus, I am a PHP / C# guy, and know so little Java, I’m a bit embarrassed to talk about it.) I began testing the software, trying to run it using Apache Tomcat on Windows….well, it worked, but performance was not good and Tomcat has some issue with freezing on Windows from time to time (not exclusive to XWiki, I found numerous indications of this occurrence) and I did not have the skill-set to figure it out. 

So, I finally began testing XWiki on an Ubuntu (12.04) Guest running on VirtualBox on a Windows Host….and whala! I just love it. I did have to go through the pains of getting VirtualBox to run as a service on Windows (tried Hyper-V, but Ubuntu was just lock up from time to time), but eventually  got it working like a champ.

I give you…..

XWiki Enterprise is a professional wiki that has powerful extensibility features such as scripting in pages, plugins and a highly modular architecture.

I just love the WYSIWYG editor and the LDAP authentication was extremely easy to configure with Active Directory. We all know that if documentation is too difficult, it won’t get done (well, it won’t get done even more than it won’t get done if it’s easy.) And this system is EASY to use – the ability to upload images, the migration from MediaWiki (while was somewhat manual  was made easier by the fact that XWiki supports most of the MediaWiki syntax.)

All in all, it’s a great system that we look forward to using for years to come!