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Introduction about wiki software

I liked using Atlassian Confluence as wiki or knowledge management application. However, Atlassian had announced that the standalone server version would be gone in 2021 February. Also, there would be a price increase of all the existing data center version of Atlassian software.

So, let us look at other alternatives. In this article, I would briefly describe several open source and low-cost wiki and knowledge management software. We would have a summary for each product at the bottom of the article.

Table: Curated list of open source and low-cost wiki and knowledge management software

Name License and pricing model Languages and database Target audiences / use cases Pros Cons and pain points Which companies or organizations are using it
Wiki.js AGPL v3.0
  • NodeJS
  • Database: MySQL and PostgreSQL, SQLite and MS SQL Server 2012 or later. According to roadmap, it intended to only support PostgreSQL in 3.x/4.x
Wiki and knowledge management software A very active project and support MarkDown natively. It support lots of authentication systems like Keycloak, LDAP and other major identity providers like GitHub, Google, Slack and etc.
  • Feature is not the most comprehensive because Wiki.js 2.x started in around 2019
  • Weak table support but it should be improving
11.6k stars in GitHub, a popular choice for many users
Mediawiki GPL v2
  • PHP
  • Database: MySQL 5.5.8+, MariaDB, PostgreSQL 9.2+, SQLite 3.8+
Wiki and knowledge management software (Internet scale) Internationalization and localization. Also, it is a well established software, it had been around since 2002 No user deletion, only merges. Refer to this web link for details Wikipedia, Indie Web Camp. Here is a short list
XWiki LGPL 2.1 and commercial offering
  • Java
  • Database: MySQL 5.7, 8.0 / MariaDB 10.4+ PostgreSQL 12+ Oracle 19.3.0+
Wiki, CMS and knowledge management software Well established, it has been around since 2003 Java based, it would consume more memory compared with other smaller wiki software Testimonials in here
Documize. Here's the Community edition AGPL v3.0 and commercial offering (cloud and self hosting)
  • Go lang
  • Database:
    • PostgreSQL (v9.6+)
    • Microsoft SQL Server (2016+ with FTS)
    • MySQL (v5.7.10+ and v8.0.12+)
    • Percona (v5.7.16-10+)
    • MariaDB (10.3.0+)
Documentation, wiki and knowledge management software Single binary application, less dependency Community edition has less feature than commercial edition Telefonica, MobyMax and others, according to Documize web site
BookStack MIT
  • PHP
  • Database: MySQL >= 5.6
Wiki and knowledge management software (Good for small businesses) Low system requirement
  • Looks like the editor is a global setting, you either choose the WYSIWYG editor or the MarkDown editor
  • Weaker UI support on smartphone devices
It's a quite popular option with 5.7k+ stars in GitHub
Outline Here's the GitHub repo BSL (delayed open source) and have commercial offering
  • Node.js >= 12 and React
  • Database: PostgreSQL >=9.5 and Redis >=4
Wiki and knowledge management software (Great for internal documentation, meeting notes, KB and etc.) Eye pleasing UI, feature rich and support MarkDown It's a quite popular option with 10.2k+ stars in GitHub

Wiki.js

Wiki.js has two versions, 1.x and 2.x. There is active development for the 2.x version. It has lots of modules or features, and more features are being added. By default, the software already has analytics support (Google Analytics, Matoma and etc.), authentication support (Keycloak, LDAP/AD, Slack and etc.), comment systems support (built-in, Disqus and etc.), search engine support (like Elasticsearch, Aloglia and use of databases), draw.io graphing support and so much more. When a page is created, you could only choose either using WYSIWYG editor or the MarkDown editor. It is not changeable once a page is created.

Here's the road map for 3.x and beyond. It would be moving from Vue.js (2.x) to Quasar Vue (3.x). It would be able to import data from Wikimedia, DokuWiki and Confluence. This looks very promising.

Mediawiki

Mediawiki has been around since 2002. The most famous site that use Mediawiki is the Wikipedia. It is a battle tested wiki software and with active development. It is used by many websites in the Internet. It is also used by many companies and organizations.

Mediawiki does not support MarkDown natively, so you need to rely on add-ons. To further expanding Mediawiki functionality, take a look on BlueSpice. It is a single application that is based on Mediawiki, so that you do not need to install or maintain several add-on to Mediawiki.

XWiki

XWiki has been around since 2003. The 'X' in XWiki means extensibility. It could import serveral Wiki/Markup syntax, like Mediawiki, Confluence, JSPWiki, Creole, TWiki and XWiki's own syntax. It do not have native MarkDown support, but there are extensions or add-ons for MarkDown support. When it comes to editing, you would be using the Advanced WYSIWYG editor. XWiki is a solid alternative to Confluence.

BookStack

Writing the wiki in a book-like format, with chapters and pages, BookStack is a easy to use documentation system. For editing, it looks like the editor is a global setting, you either choose the WYSIWYG editor or the MarkDown editor. Other than that, BookStack has all the basic features of a wiki system and is easy to install.

To try out BookStack quickly, there is a demo in the offical site.

Outline

Firstly, Outline is not strictly an open source application. It uses BSL license and is called delayed open source because the actual source code of the (commercial) application would not be released immediately. In the case for Outline, the change license date is three years. So, the source code is only guaranteed to be released as open source at a maximum of three years. If you don't want or need to self host, you can check out the commercial hosting option of Outline.

In terms of the UI, it has a modern UI and more polished compared with BookStack. It comes with an intuitive edtior with MarkDown support. It has API integration with Slack, Figma and other collaboration systems. The project has 10k+ stars in GitHub and is quite popular.

Conclusion

Besides the list of applications that we had come across in this article, there are lots of options out there. Like Dokuwiki, MoinMoin, Trac and etc.


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