[R-wiki] Summary of the discussion before creation of R-sig-wiki

Gabor Grothendieck ggrothendieck at gmail.com
Thu Jan 19 15:00:00 CET 2006

Not sure if you can assess this but the other item is the
roadmap, activity and community since its not just where
the wiki is now but where it will be as time goes on.

On 1/19/06, Philippe Grosjean <phgrosjean at sciviews.org> wrote:
> Jonathan Baron wrote:
> > On 01/18/06 11:33, Gabor Grothendieck wrote:
> >
> >>Not sure if this changes anything but the version 4.0 beta of twiki claims
> >>that it has "much simpler" installation:
> >>
> >>http://freshmeat.net/projects/twiki/?branch_id=46424&release_id=217318
> >
> >
> > I believe that this was the version I installed.  I can help
> > anyone who wants to try it.  But if this is "simpler" I hate to
> > see what it was before.  Really it IS simple, but there are just
> > a few minor things that they don't tell you.  Like once it is
> > actually alive, you do everything through TWiki itself.  The
> > configuration page is just like any other page, and you edit it.
> > Neat idea.  If they only told you!
> >
> > Jon
> Well, it seems that we have two contenders here: DokuWiki versus TWiki
> as possible engines for our R Wiki. So, I did a comparison of the two
> engines. Here is a summary, and the details come hereunder:
> TWiki offers certainly more features than DokuWiki. Among those that are
> important in our context:
> - Statistics: Twiki offers statistics about orphaned pages, most/least
> visited pages, recent visitors, etc., while DokuWiki offers only a list
> of recent changes. Note that there is a "stats" plugin in development
> for DokuWiki that tends to fill the gap (see:
> http://wiki.splitbrain.org/plugin:stats). Twiki wins.
> - Formatting: Twiki allows for row spanning in table and for defining
> custom styles. However, DokuWiki allows right-to-left writting and
> footnotes that Twiki does not (all the rest could be added through
> plugins in one of the two engines, if needed). So, no clear winner here.
> - Media revision/editing: DokuWiki allows only to add final versions of
> images and other media. TWiki is more flexible *but* what about the
> explosion of disk space used on the server with these additional
> features??? [personally, I think this is a point *against* Twiki, unless
> one can disable it!]. Twiki looses because of too much features?!
> - Interface and style: DokuWiki is neat, intuitive and easier to use, in
> comparison to TWiki (well, this is a personal rating). This is a crucial
> point: remember that we want a maximum number of R users on the Wiki. If
> navigation or page edition is too difficult, it will discourage many
> potential users. DokuWiki wins (but is it really impartial?)
> - Ease of installation: DokuWiki appears simpler (only need Apache +
> PHP). Whatever the installer, TWiki requires to install a lot more
> stuff. Not much a concern for the server (because this is done once and
> we have at least one knowledgeable people in the group), but what about
> packaging local versions of the Wiki that everyone could run on its own
> computer, deconnected from the Internet? DokuWiki wins, thus.
> - The rest is, I think, details (PHP versus Perl, RCS or custom revision
> handling, links to sisterwiki, export in PDF, WYSIWYG edition, revision
>   diffs between any version, etc...).
> So, my own conclusion: despite TWiki is a very powerful Wiki engine, I
> still prefer Dokuwiki. I will continue to work on my customized DokuWiki
> engine as a prototype for our R Wiki site. If someone else wants to
> start experiments with TWiki, I would be fine to reconsider the
> comparison on the basis of the two prototypes (but remember that you
> need to customize Twiki in order to offer something like R syntax
> coloring, nice equation rendering from the LaTeX definition in the .Rd
> files, etc. I am already two week ahead with the customization I have
> already done on DokuWiki ;-).
> Best,
> Philippe Grosjean
> === Here is the detailed comparison ================================
> A comparison between DokuWiki and TWiki, using http://www.wikimatrix.org
> gives (I outline only the differences):
>   * Engine: DokuWiki = PHP, TWiki = Perl
>     Comment: this is personal, but I find PHP very intuitive... and can
> hardly read any perl code
>   * Page storage: DokuWiki = plain text files, TWiki = RCS/Plain text
> files.
>    Comment: I think plain text files is better than using a database,
> because it is easier to access from, let's say, an external R (recall
> that one idea is to change a little bit the Wikik syntax to embed it is
> R comments, so that a Wiki page could be sourced directly using
> source(). So, both are fine here. Twiki uses a regular RCS for saving
> versions of documents, while DokuWiki uses its own mechanism.
>   * Requirements: DokuWiki = Apache + PHP, TWiki = a lot more.
>     Comment: installation seems to be simplified in TWiki 0.4, and at
> least one knowledgeable people in our group (Jonathan Baron). So, not
> much of a problem?
>   * Host Blocking: with a plugin in TWiki, not in DokuWiki
>   * Revision diffs: DokuWiki = to current page, TWiki = between all
>     Comment: personally, I consider any revision diff to another page
> than the current one as a useless gadget.
>   * Right-to-Left support: Yes in DokuWiki, No in Twiki
>     Comment: should we propose sections in other languages, this could
> be important for our eastern friends!
>   * Page redirection: Yes in Twiki, No in DokuWiki
>     Comment: ??? Since page redirection can be programmed with two
> lines of HTML or JavaScript and since DokuWiki supports writting of HTML
> embedded in Wiki pages, I don't understand why this is not possible in
> DokuWiki (may be not built-in,... but still possible if needed!)
>   * Links to SisterWiki: Yes in Twiki, No in DokuWiki
>     Comment: a link to sisterwiki is an automatic link to a page with
> the same name in another wiki site!!!??? I really don't see how useful
> this could be in our context!
>   * Tables: Dokuwiki = simple, TWiki = simple + complex
>     Comment: after looking at the table syntax in both engines, it
> appears that the only difference is "row spanning": in TWiki, you can
> make a cell spanning on multiple table rows, while you cannot do it with
> DokuWiki (in both cases, you can span a cell on multiple columns, define
> header style, align left/center/right very easily, etc.).
>   * Footnotes: Yes in DokuWiki, No in TWiki
>   * Custom styles and FAQ tags: No in DokuWiki, Yes in Twiki
>   * WYSIWYG Editing: No in DokuWiki, optional in TWiki
>     Comment: usually very slow (not tested in this case). The wikiwyg
> program in development will allow WYSIWYG editing in any Wiki engine
> very soon. So, not much a key point, I think.
>   * Statistics: TWiki is more exhansitive: DokuWiki proposes only a
> list of recent changes. TWiki adds orphaned pages, most/least popular,
> recent visitors and analysis. This is a good point in favor of TWiki,
> certainly!
>   * PDF export: No in DokuWiki, Yes in TWiki
>     Comment: it is vital to export parts of our Wiki in PDF. DokuWiki
> proposes solutions (there is a page dedicated to this, but I don't
> remeber where). Also, I consider that existing feature in Wiki engines
> is not enough because they export one page at a time, with link to
> external wiki pages. We certainly want to export a whole namespace, or a
> given list of wiki pages into a compiled PDF manual with links inside
> the manual for related pages. As fas as I know, no Wiki engine does that
> yet. I don't know for TWiki, but I have already look at DokuWiki and it
> is rather flexible in the way exportations are defined. So, it is
> possible to program such a feature in the future if really needed.
>   * Media revisions/image editing/media search: No in DokuWiki, Yes in
> TWiki
>   Comment: personally, this is really a point *against* TWiki. Media
> (images, videos, sounds) take a lot of memory. I cannot imagine to keep
> the various versions of such media or other manipulation on large Wikis
> without exploding the disk space on the server required to store all the
> info (+ the backups). So, to summarize: saving an unlimited number of
> version for text documents: YES, doing the same for images: NO! Remember
> that our Wiki will start with: something like 3000+ pages of online help
> for all functions in CRAN & Bioconductor, 500+ pages for all packages,
> 1500+ pages from converting "Statistics for R" + "Rtips" + "R Tcltk
> examples" (Statistics for R is already 1058 pages in PDF format)! So,
> this is going to be a very large Wiki!
>   * Aligning text and text indentation: Yes in Twiki, No in DokuWiki
>   Comment: well, if needed, there are plugins for that in DokuWiki (not
> correct in the wikimatrix table).
>   * Ease of use (not in wikimatrix). This is something rather personal,
> but I have tried to navigate in TWiki and to figure out how I can find
> pages, create new pages, come back to previous ones, edit pages, etc.
> ... and I find all this much less intuitive than in DokuWiki. Where is
> the simple "search" form? I see only a "jump" one, and obviously, you
> must type the name of a page, not some text to serach for in all pages.
>  There is no indication of the previous pages I visited to come back
> rapidly to them (a feature called "breadcrumbs" in DokuWiki, see
> http://wiki.splitbrain.org/wiki:breadcrumbs), the table of content in
> TWiki in on top of the page, while it is conveniently in a box at right
> in DokuWiki. This is just to cite a few...
>   * Presentation: still very personal... but I really love the DokuWiki
> style. In comparison, TWiki one is too classical and boring. Of course,
> it is still possible to change the CSS file and customize the style.

More information about the R-sig-wiki mailing list