This article is a pre-release chapter in the upcoming “Take Control of OS X Server,” by Charles Edge, scheduled for public release later in 2014. Apart from, and , these chapters are available only to ; see  for details.
A wiki is a Web application that allows people to add, modify, and delete content. Wikipedia is the most popular example of a wiki, but wikis can be used for knowledge management, documentation, shared process lists, note taking, and more. Unlike blogs, which tend to use a chronological posting approach, wikis have little implicit structure, allowing users to organize the site in any way they want.
Wikis are tremendously flexible, and how you use them is limited only by your imagination. Since wikis are easily accessible from any device that can browse the Web, users can access them from anywhere, at any time.
In an educational setting, because wikis work well even from iOS devices, and since wiki pages include many basic formatting options, a wiki might be the best way for students to collaborate on projects. Plus, because files can be uploaded to a wiki and accessed via WebDAV, I’ve helped a variety of schools set up wiki pages for different classes, enabling students to submit projects for each class and teachers to comment on the work right within the wiki.
In the business world, I’ve seen companies store human resources documents, employee manuals, and more on company-wide wikis, relying on the wiki’s text processing capabilities for quick edits so the documents don’t go out of date. One company I’ve worked with even creates a wiki page for each employee, storing a wide variety of information about that employee on the page. And plenty of tech firms (including mine) use wikis to track information about the systems they manage.
In essence, a wiki is the world’s simplest database, accessible to anyone, using any device, from anywhere. That’s hard to beat.
To begin setting up the Wiki service, open the Server app and select Wiki in the sidebar. Because a setting on the Wiki pane involves permissions, we’ll run through the basic configuration before clicking the ON button:
An Edit button appears to the right of the Permissions pop-up menu; click it if you later want to adjust the permissions list.
With your access and WebDAV options set, click the ON button at the upper right. A green Status light in the Wiki pane (Figure 2) indicates that all systems are go.
That’s all there is to do in Server; the rest of the wiki configuration takes place in a Web browser.
Once the Wiki service has started, click the View Wiki link at the bottom of the Wiki pane. Or, if you want to work on another computer, connect to the server in a Web browser, appending
wiki to the URL. So if the hostname of your server is
mavserver.pretendco.lan, connect to
You should now be looking at the portal for the wiki service (Figure 3).
Now that you’re on the wiki portal page, you can create a wiki:
Use the Permissions field to add the name of any user or group on your server, but only if you aren’t already covered by the default built-in groups: All Logged In Users (people with accounts on your server) and All Unauthenticated Users (everyone who lacks an account). To delete a user or a group, hover over the blue lozenge, and click the blue Xbutton that appears to the left of the name.
For each user or group, you can choose from four levels of access using the pop-up menu to the right:
When you’re done, click Continue.
When you’re done (Figure 6), click Create.
Now that you’ve created a wiki, you can set more options. If you’re not already looking at the Home page for your new wiki, click the wiki in the All Wikis screen. From here, you need to do two things:
Click the gearbutton, and click Wiki Settings. The Wiki Settings dialog contains three panes, allowing you to modify the options you set while creating the wiki and giving you additional options:
If you select one of these checkboxes, you’ll find a corresponding top-level link in the wiki’s navigation bar, alongside Home, Activity, Documents, and Tags.
If you choose Nobody for who can make comments, the feature is turned off entirely. Otherwise, how you configure these depends largely on how public your wiki is—the more open you make it, the more you may wish to exert some control over commenting.
Make sure to click the Save button after making your changes in the Wiki Settings dialog.
On the right side of the Home page, in the Notifications area, notice that “Include in All Activity” is selected by default, so all changes to the Home page will appear in the Activity page accessible by clicking Activity in the navigation bar. If you want to be alerted via email as well whenever a change is made to the Home page, select “Email me when updated.”
In the colored navigation bar at the top of every wiki page, there are a number of important buttons (Figure 8).
Here’s a quick run-down of what you should know about each of the pages to which these buttons take you:
Now that you’ve created and customized your overall wiki, it’s time to work with individual pages. In this topic, you’ll learn how to add and edit a page (just below),, , , and—in case a page doesn’t work out as you’d intended— .
There are two basic ways to create wiki pages, either from the menu that appears when you click the plusbutton or by creating a new page as a destination for a link. Both work, but I generally recommend the link destination approach, because then you’re less likely to end up with pages without links leading to them.
Follow these steps, starting on the Home page for now, but they’ll work on any wiki page:
A new link and a new page are created, linking the text you’d selected to a new page. You see the old page, but the previously selected text now has the formatting of a link.
In fact, what you’ve done here is classic wiki work—you edited a page by adding text that you turned into a link to a new page. In the real world, you’d probably put more work into writing and formatting the text on each page, but the process is the same: click the pencilbutton in the toolbar, edit the page, and click the Save button to save your changes.
To format a page, navigate to it in the wiki and then click the pencilbutton in the toolbar. Make sure the text you want to format is selected (or the insertion point is in the relevant paragraph), and then click a button on the editing toolbar (Figure 11). When you finish, click Save (or click Cancel to toss out your changes).
In case a button on the editing toolbar isn’t immediately obvious to you, let’s take a closer look at what they do. From left to right:
For pages that you add, the Document Info sidebar appears on the right (Figure 12), with expandable sections:
planning. All tags you enter here appear in the Tags page accessible by clicking Tags in the navigation bar; click a tag on that page to see a linked list of all the pages marked with that tag.
If you’ve enabled the wiki’s blog feature, clicking the plusbutton displays a New Blog Post In “Wiki” command in the menu. Click it to create a new blog post.
Apart from how you create it and where it appears, a blog post is otherwise essentially identical to any other wiki page in terms of how you edit it and what you can put on it.
Blog posts are collected in the Blog page accessible by clicking the Blog link in the navigation bar. They don’t appear in the Documents page.
To delete any page on the wiki, navigate to it, click the gearbutton, and click Delete Page. Be aware that deleting a page will cause links to that page to stop working, which may cause confusion to users. It may be better to edit the page to indicate that its content is obsolete.
Also available in the menu that appears when you click the gearbutton is a Move to Wiki command that enables you to move a page to another wiki on the server.
So far we’ve created pages that contain text, graphics, links, and attachments. However, there’s another way to store files within a wiki, assuming that you selected the “Enable WebDAV access to Wiki files” checkbox in the Wiki pane in Server (see, earlier).
Files uploaded this way aren’t attached to any particular wiki page, but they still appear in the Activity, Documents, and Tags lists, and they have a Document Info sidebar that enables you to tag them, add related pages, make comments, sign up for email notifications, and see the file’s history (which does not include download activity, unfortunately).
I’ve found that people tend to store files in a wiki for two main purposes:
Uploading a file is easy. Click the plusbutton and click Upload File to “Wiki” (Figure 13).
In the Upload File dialog, click Choose File, navigate to the file you want to upload, and click Choose. The filename appears in the File field (Figure 14). Click Upload.
Once the file uploads, it appears much like a new wiki page, complete with a preview if it’s the sort of file that a Web browser can display usefully (Figure 15).
Although you can’t add text to the page containing the file, you can add tags, related pages, and comments in the Document Info sidebar.
If you uploaded the wrong file, or want to upload a new version of a file, click the gearbutton and then click Replace File. You can also click Delete File there, to remove the file from the wiki entirely.
There are two main ways to access files that have been uploaded to a wiki, either directly in the wiki or in a WebDAV-enabled program like the iOS versions of Apple’s Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
The most obvious way to download a file from a wiki is to navigate to the file’s page, and then click the downloadbutton in the toolbar. The file downloads instantly to the browser’s default Downloads folder, just like any other file you’d download with a Web browser.
In a WebDAV-enabled app like Pages in iOS, open the document manager, tap the Add Document
http://, along with your user credentials (Figure 16). Tap Sign In when you’re ready.
In the document picker that appears, navigate into Wikis, and then into the name of the wiki that holds the files you want. Tap the filename to copy it into Pages (Figure 17).
Once that’s done, you can work with the file as you would any other in Pages.
Although you can’t save your changes back to the original file on the wiki, back in the document manager you can tap the Sharebutton, tap Send a Copy, and tap the WebDAV icon (Figure 18). Enter the server address and your credentials, if necessary, choose a format for the file, navigate to the desired wiki, and tap the Send button to save it.
You can also upload a new file from Pages to the wiki using the Sharebutton; the file doesn’t have to originate on the wiki.
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