Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Which personal wiki / note taking system?

As you can probabably guess if you read my blog, I mostly use emacs
org-mode for my personal note taking and wiki needs. However, that
isn't alwasy the best way for a particular project and not everyone is
comfortable with emacs. At CCOM, we have a general mediawiki instance
for the whole group (70+ people) and a trac instance for coding
related wiki'ing, bugs, and svn/mercurial monitoring. At NASA, I've
been around a lot of twiki and elsewhere I've seen people using
MoinMoin. I didn't like twiki, but I saw Kanef do some amazing
auto-updating calendaring in it with some javascript magic that he
whipped up. Monica was using Wiki On A Stick (WOAS), but version
0.12.0 has been super buggy. There is also TiddyWiki and commercial
software (what was it than J. Dingler used??).

Wikipedia: Comparison of notetaking software and Comparison of wiki software. Note: neither one has WOAS. There is Personal wiki, which is more the topic at hand.

So... what do people use and why? Things like Trac and such can be
backed up, but I can see cross machine deployments being trouble.


  1. I use Google sites as part of a free Google Apps account. It has convenient sharing options and rudimentary document management (automatically versioning documents which are "attached" to pages. It's wysiwyg so perhaps not attractive to true geeks, but it allows me to focus on content rather than the mechanics of hosting, sharing and coding.

  2. Sounds like you're talking about project management needs. Have you tried Basecamp? It's dead simple project management software with attachment support and version control. Eventually, our organizer software will meet your needs too :)

  3. I've never used it myself (except on github), but what about Gollum? Gollum wikis are simply Git repositories that adhere to a specific format. Gollum pages may be written in a variety of formats and can be edited in a number of ways depending on your needs.

  4. I like PmWiki myself. It's small and portable, but more flexible than TiddlyWiki, which I never could get into.

  5. Those are some great comments! There are a couple of things that some of them are missing.

    First, I'm okay with a package that requires programming or installing skill. But for others, requiring an install of ruby will be hard on the windows side, especially if the machine is locked down (govt rules that keep people from getting work done).

    Second, internet based solutions don't currently seem to work with an unconnected model. Google Docs and Basecamp don't work when you go to work on a ship with only email for a couple weeks. If the internet based systems had an offline mode that allowed things to progress without the internet and then merge back it, that would be awesome!

    That said, I think all of the posts so far list tools that I can recommend for certain situations.

    I am especially intrigued by Gollem with github-markup supporting emacs org-mode (and lots of other formats). Maybe I should dig a little into ruby. But, I spend most of my time in python with fink.

    I can also see a local install of PmWiki with apache and version control being an interesting solution.