Create an offline personal wiki to organize your work

Introduction

There are times where you need to showcase your work. Public blogging websites are very good for that, but there are times when you may want to organize your work (say while you are learning) that you don’t want to share with others. E.g., You might be reading a new book about a programming language. There will be a lot of new concepts that you might not have heard before, and similarly there will be a lot of repeating concepts that you are familiar with. Therefore, you may want to only make notes of the new concepts, while trimming down already familiar concepts. Personal offline wiki is a great place to keep track of these kinds of work. With the help of links, text formatting, images, videos you can organize your work, so that it becomes a great learning resource for your personal use, that you can re-visit whenever you need to review the material. In this tutorial, I want to encourage you to install a wiki software (I will be showing few features of dokuwiki as an example, but you can install any) to manage your personal work on your own computer.

home

Installation

To install dokuwiki you can go to http://download.dokuwiki.org/, customize your download (languages) add few plugins, select the option to include MicroApache to make a portable version (if you are in windows) and finally download the tarball and throw it in your web server. My friend had trouble starting the MicroApache in her computer (apache in xampp was stopped). However, after throwing the dokuwiki root directory inside the web server directory it worked. After installation visit the dokuwiki/install.php in your local web server. You can customize few things as a first time user (e.g.; adding an admin account and password). In Linux you can install dokuwiki using the package manager. However, there might be web-server specific settings that you may need to configure. In my case, I did not succeed installing dokuwiki in both nginx and apache web server. Therefore, I used this script to install dokuwiki in lighttpd. Since, I have apache web server running at port 80, I changed lighttpd’s default port to 85 by changing server.port value in /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf. After restarting the server, I could start dokuwiki/install.php. After installation, I was able to visit http://localhost:85/wiki/doku.php/start and use the wiki.

In Linux, I had one problem that restricted me from installing extensions.

extensions_error

I had to change the user:group to http:http by using

$ sudo chown -R http:http *

inside /usr/share/webapps/dokuwiki/lib directory. After executing above command, I was able to go to Extension Manager inside Admin page and install several plugins and themes.

install_extension

I installed discussion plugin (along with pagelist plugin, which is required for discussion plugin) and several themes. My favorite theme is Bootstrap3 Template

page

Using the Wiki

One recommendation I have is, don’t use the start page to write your text (use this page to organize the pages). A place to link different pages. You can at any time get to any pages using the Sitemap link. While writing/editing the text, you can create any internal link using the Internal Link button in your rich text editor. To create external link, inside double brackets write your title and the link using this format [ [<your link> | <your link title> ] ].

To create new page, just search for a name that does not exist. E.g., If you want to create a page called grocery list and if it does not exist, search for the text “grocery list” in the search box.

grocery2

Using create this link option, you can create a non existent page and edit it.

grocery_edit

Backup

Dokuwiki uses plain text files as the data storage. You can go inside the data/pages directory of your dokuwiki installation directory and copy all the text files for backup. If you re-install dokuwiki, you can copy back these files to the data/pages directory and your wiki will be restored.

Conclusion

There are hundreds of useful plugins for dokuwiki, which you can search and install from Extension Manager option. Wiki software can be used to greatly enhance your local workflow (can be). Online wiki websites also have options to work privately, but a local wiki can be a great option for people who believe Mr. Cloud knows everything; even what you think (If you constantly type everything in social networking sites, that is true to a certain extent).

Cheers !!

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Create an offline personal wiki to organize your work

  1. I love this article! I’ve been running a personal wiki for three years. I’m up to almost 1,500 articles containing work stuff, family tree, random thoughts, etc. Your readers might also want to consider MediaWiki (https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/MediaWiki). If you’ve ever edited a Wikipedia article, it’s the same markup language. Plenty of plugins for MediaWiki as well.

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