Technically speaking, this site is a Wiki. Pages are written in (near) clear text -- not HTML. A software runs on the web server and translates them to HTML, adding decoration (headers, footers, side bar, buttons, images etc).

A wiki also allows to edit each page online, keeping history and providing some form of version management. Wherever I am, be it at home or at work, I'm able to edit my pages and update the site.

Generally, a wiki is open to writing by anyone. Since this is my personal site, I protected editing by a password, so that I'm the only one able to edit.

To be able to manage files remotely, I added a web-based file manager. Using it, I can create, edit, copy, move, rename files and directories with a web browser. The software I selected is also able to create and extract compressed archives directly on the web server, so I can upload a new version of the wiki engine in a single file and deploy it in a few clicks.

Software selection

The web hoster I use offers PHP, MySql and PostgreSQL support. This restricts to wiki software implemented with PHP. Additionnally I'm not fond of storing pages of the site in a database, so I looked after a software that would work from bare files.

Eventually after many search hours, little choice was left. First, most wiki software depends on a database. What is left is not very nice: look was poor, some functionality missed, was too big, or the markup was too complicated.

Then I stumbled over PmWiki. It has rich functionality, has quite simple markup, is light and simple to install, doesn't depend on anything. Thanks to its themability, it's also nice looking -- though it's a matter of taste and chosen "skin".

From try to deployment

As I'm a PHP newbie, I first gave it a try by installing on my local web server. This way I could see how simple it was to install: just expand the archive, then copy & edit the configuration file, reading a bit of documentation, and it's done.

After a few learning days, I deployed as is on the definitive host (which you are reading from). I had some difficulty with the PHP version installed by the host, since it bugged some pages (but not all). I solved it by forcing the whole site to PHP 5 (the buggy one was a heavily patched 4.3). Now it runs perfectly.

I must advise to install some kind of web-based file manager on your host. This is nearly mandatory if you want to edit the configuration file sometimes.

And now...

Still not knowing much about PHP, but just enough about it and web servers to install PHP software and setup my own wiki. Not bad, I think ;-)

Later on, I had to get a little bit into PHP programming, because the file manager I choosed, phpFileManager, has bugs when it comes to archive building and extraction. Finally, I downloaded and installed some PEAR modules, and hacked the file manager to use them instead of the builtin crappy archive management code.

Another promising file manager, phpXplorer, must be monitored. It's too buggy for now, but looks very nice and powerful, and I may change to it when it has matured.