MediaWiki vs DokuWiki

Given the intended audience, DokuWiki could be considered the small brother of MediaWiki. Wiki functionality is similar. Both open-source applications are written in PHP, have a solid developer community and have existed for many years. Creating content for both of these platforms is simple, text-based and the syntax is comparable.

When I searched for a documentation-tool for procedures and technical stuff in 2009, I considered serveral PHP1) ones and finally opted for DokuWiki instead of MediaWiki, which had a far bigger user base. The 3 main reasons for me were:

  1. DokuWiki stores user content in simple, readable text files which could also be created through a “feed” from external systems
  2. DokuWiki uses layout-templates which could be customized relatively easy and some good ones were available at
  3. DokuWiki already had quite a lot of solid plugins to extend its functionality, also directly available from the source site

MediaWiki uses a database to store texts, navigational elements and meta data. Most MediaWiki “skins” are more than just the outer layout layer as the name suggests. Some contain added functionality which some purists would have placed in a plugin/addon to the core software2). Both skins and plugins cannot always be found easily through the MediaWiki site. Security and authorization are quite similar, by the way.

Of the above 3 reasons to pick DokuWiki, the first was most important to me: textual data, media, navigational elements and programming code are all contained under 1 main directory and several subs. This feature became a key element of the SVP-DokuWiki enviroment I set up in 2009 and is still being used today. SVP stands for Source - Verification - Production and is meant for wikis with a big read-only audience and a small writer base. Most of the wiki business cases are like this: few writers, many readers.

Wiki software Latest version
MediaWiki logo
1.34.2 - stable - 15 October 2019 3)
1.31.8 - long-term support (LTS) - 17 April 2018 4)
DokuWiki logo
2020-07-29 “Hogfather” - Stable (Recommended) 5)

Version information obtained on 26 August 2020

I already developed some software in PHP and wanted to be able to change the code, if I saw the need to.
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  • Last modified: 2020/08/27 13:09