September 6, 2011
Pro Wiki Faq

Frequently asked questions regarding the ProWiki software. Put new questions at the HelpDesk please.

Question: What license does ProWiki use?

Answer: ProWiki is OpenSource licensed under the GNU GPL.

Question: Is it true that a wiki must be open?

Answer: No, a wiki can be made as open or closed as the owner wants it to be. There are many wikis that are completely closed for the public, for example many personal and corporate wikis.

Question: What programming language is ProWiki written in?

Answer: ProWiki consists of a small number of Perl scripts, about 20.000 lines of code. Some of its functions are implemented by using external standard programs written in other languages (e. g. RCS is written in C, it is used for keeping page revisions).

Question: Does ProWiki use a database? And if yes, which?

Answer: No, ProWiki stores pages and other wiki data as files. This is usually the simpler and more flexible solution, except if you build very, very large wikis. If we need this some day, we will interface to MySQL.

Question: What is the size of a typical wiki? What is ProWiki built for?

Answer: 99.9% of all wikis have less than 1000 pages, 99.99% have less than 10.000 pages. ProWiki is built primarily for this market, supporting up to 1000 wikis and up to 250.000 pages on a low cost PC web server.

Question: What are the requirements for a ProWiki WikiServer?

Answer: The short answer is: to get most fun out of it, you should care for a Linux web server. It's not important whether it is a VirtualServer, a RootServer or a ManagedServer but a simple webspace is insufficient. A longer answer is in the SystemRequirements.

Followup Question: If the "filesystem over database" decision was made to support the "99.9% of small wikis" why not simply add database support to make the hosting requirements less severe (for example, for hosts that offer "one MySQL database") for the same "masses of tiny (and minimally capitalized) wikis"?

Answer: The empirical fact that ProWiki projects are typically <10.000 pages ("we didn't need database support up to now") doesn't mean that it's our goal to specifically support low requirements wikis.

I think there is also a misunderstanding, because database support (which could be added easily if there is a need) wouldn't reduce the SystemRequirements. There are other parts of the system that would need to be changed to lower the requirements.

If one wants to run ProWiki in a webspace, he should explain his needs (UserNeeds) and get it into the priority queue for other users to support this. The questions then are: (1) why are $20 a month too much (ProWikiProviders) for such an important need or (2) why are other - lower requirement - wiki engines (e. g. MediaWiki) insufficient for the task at hand?

-- HelmutLeitner

Question: Is there any way for a wiki running ProWiki to actually offer a visualization similar to the colored tree figure in WikiFractality showing how many WikiBranches (and with what names) there actually are in the super-wiki? Suppose it was a user generated and maintained document... how would the users "learn about" the current stucture so they could document it?

Answer: Currently there is no such visualization. Activate MultiLinking and look into the Context (<= click the trailing icon) pages to get an overview.

Hopefully there will a visualization in a few months. Currently none of the visual interfaces like CdmlSvg, CdmlFlash or CdmlGnuplot (maybe even CdmlJava) is without problems so that we can 100% rely on it.

Question: Is there any way to find out what pages within the wiki point to "the page I'm reading"?

Answer: This is accomplished using the BackLinkFunction which is accessed by ProWiki users simply by clicking on the title of "the page you're reading". For example, if you go up to the top of this very page and click on the title that says "ProWikiFaq" you'll see the pages that link to this very faq.

Question: Are there any plugins for ProWiki? Is there a developer community for it? Where do I go to help?

Answer: ProWiki offers (1) all its extension out of the box (2) consistent in syntax (3) without the need for installing and configuring a set of plugins and (4) without slowing the engine through computational overheads of the plugins. But maybe we will provide a PluginInterface if programmers force us to.

Question: What features are there for social interactions (for example, media wiki's user talk pages)?

Answer: DiscussionPages can be easily imitated by an AutoSubPageList=Talk option (which is not limited to a single subspace). By the way, MediaWiki is not strong in supporting social interaction through the wiki (the backbone of WikiPedia community is in MailingLists).

Question: Does ProWiki have support for templates where the template is edited as a page and then it's content is autoincluded (possibly with parameters) in pages that reference the template?

Answer: There is a CdmlInsert command that dynamically inserts a wiki page, but without expanding complicated syntax structures. The ProWiki strategy is a bit different than the MediaWiki strategy: tables and other layout elements are simple. Probably that's the reason why no-one ever asked to have replacement parameters for CdmlInsert (which could be added easily if there is a need).