Wikka Wiki

Summary: Wikka is a very promising lightweight but still immature wiki engine that can power small wikis quickly and efficiently. After it matures, it could become a serious competitor to other more known wiki engines.

Today I tested a very interesting WikiWikiWeb engine: Wikka Wiki, a fork of Wakka Wiki (which appears to have stopped development).

Wikka Wiki is licensed under a BSD-like license and is very lightweight and fast.

In comparison, MediaWiki is very performance-hungry and I am considering customising it to make it more light-weight or find a faster wiki, but my time is very limited.

After I found Wikka I installed and tested briefly the version. It works okay and is amazingly fast. It supports ACLs (Access Control Lists) so it seems to be suitable for basic secure wiki applications. It produces XHTML Transitional and CSS output and the current release has some extensions for FreeMind.

In the homepage of Wikka Wiki you will be welcomed by a GIF picture depicting a wizard. A person who has the relevant knowledge will automatically think about Wicca, an Earth-based religion. (UPDATE: Is it a coincidence that both in my blog and in the Wikinerds Portal, the Wikka-related story got assigned a number that is often associated with Paganism and Wicca, the number 13, as their article/node ID? Jung’s Synchronicity comes to my mind now… Compare the URLs: http://portal.wikinerds.org/node/view/13 and http://nsk.wikinerds.org/blog/wp-trackback.php/13)

Wikka has a feature called “page ownership” which was inherited from Wakka. Every page can be owned by a specific user who will be able to set its ACLs. Of course this will not prevent people setting totally free “anything-goes” installations of Wikka, since a page can have no owner at all.

The installation was easy but requires an already existant MySQL database. The Wikka tables can be prefixed, so that the average joe with a 1-database shared webhosting account will be able to use it with other scripts that support prefixed tables.

Wikka even supports categories, just like MediaWiki 1.3. But in contrast with the latter, Wikka produces very user-friendly, easy-to-understand, lightweight and aesthetically superior pages. MediaWiki can be configured to output light pages with its “Nostalgia” theme, but it is very far from Wikka when it comes to aesthetics and user friendliness.

Wikka supports comments on pages, and they are placed just under the page text. The comments are distinctly coloured and can be hidden. MediaWiki, however, has separate “Talk:” pages.

Because it is small and simple, Wikka may be a good choice for new wiki programmers who want to learn by coding. Wikka uses the PHP4 scripting language, and its database schema appears to be quite simple.

Unfortunately the documentation included in the Wikka distribution is quite unsatisfactory, and it even mentions its ancestor Wakka instead of Wikka. Perhaps the project needs a good documentation maintainer.

The Wikka project is still too new, but it seems to be great for small wikis. Large wikis may prefer to either heavily customise it or choose a more mature product which has been tested on a number of sites, like MediaWiki or GetWiki (a fork of MediaWiki). I considered using Wikka in Wikinerds, but I preferred to stay with MediaWiki 1.3.2 because it is tested and used by a large number of high-traffic sites. However, if Wikka matures and implements more features without losing its lightweight advantage, it may become a serious competitor to other wiki engines.

Wikka can be download in tar.gz format from the Wikka HomePage. A nice example site running Wikka is OpenFormats.org.

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