Weekend Hacking – A Private Wiki

I decided to spend some time this weekend researching some of the solutions out there to the problem of all my fragmented notes, code snippets, interesting articles etc. I like to keep all this stuff handy in one place, usually in a folder on the desktop of my laptop.

This poses a few problems. Firstly, I’ve never been great to do backups, so I’m really relying on my laptop behaving and my hard disk not crashing. Secondly, I don’t always have that particular machine with me. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to revert back to Google to find something I know is in my notes somewere. The obvious solution to all of this, is to mantain a privately hosted Wiki.

To my surprise, there are not many solutions out there designed specifically for this purpose (that are free anyway). I initially had a look at TiddlyWiki. This is a Wiki like solution, but stores the entire application and all your information in a single HTML file. It looked great when I tried it out on my laptop – really easy to add and search information. But, as it wasn’t really designed to be a hosted solution, I had problems saving my edits once I deployed it to my web server, due to permissions issues etc. Also, as it’s using JavaScript, the security prompts from IE were getting quite annoying.

After some more searching to no avail, I decided to settle for MediaWiki. MediaWiki is the software on which Wikipedia runs, and was designed specifically for this purpose. I had used MediaWiki before, but didn’t consider it initially as I thought it may be a bit too advanced for the simple solution I required. How wrong I was! I installed it and was up and running in less than ten minutes, and it’s actually the perfect solution to my problem.

I’m now in the process of migrating all my notes etc. to this knowledge base, which I will be able to access from anywhere.

A good weekends work I think!