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The JOMA Developers' Area Wiki - How to Use a Wiki

Daniel H. Steinberg

Wikis come in lots of flavors. In this article we'll use the JOMA Developers' Area Wiki as our example and point out some of the differences of other wikis. Start by clicking the link in the preceding sentence -- this will open another browser window, and you can alternate between that window and this one. You can navigate around the wiki just as you would any other web site. To follow a link, just click on it as you would on any other site.

When using a web site with many pages, it is often hard to know what has changed since your last visit. In a commercial web site there is often a front page that flags new content. At the top of each page in our wiki, you'll see a link labeled RecentChanges. (In other wikis, this may appear at the bottom and/or have a different name.) If you click on RecentChanges, you'll get a listing from most to least recent of all wiki pages that have changed in the last 30 days. On a web site where visitors can add content, this helps you check to see where people have been making changes. It's usually the first place I visit on a wiki on which I've been active. Our wiki also allows you to view what's changed on a page by clicking on diff, which you will find near the bottom of the page, next to the last revision date. Notice that access to earlier revisions means that you can recover from changes made by malicious users. Other wikis allow you to lock part of the page.

 The following steps will take you through key features of the wiki.

  1. Click on MathletDevelopersArea to return to the home page. This link is also at the top of each page. You'll notice that many of the links have a funny appearance. They are words strung together with an uppercase letter at the beginning of each word. This is how you create a new web page. We'll try that in a moment.


  2. Click on WhatIsThis. An alternative way to navigate to a page is to use the URL. Notice that the URL is [Ed: This link has been disabled.] The name of the web page follows the question mark. If you know the name of your page, you can just type it after the question mark to navigate directly to the page. The Index also provides you with a listing of the pages, and Search (at the bottom of the page) allows you to search for a page.


  3. After looking around a bit, try the second navigation method by typing the address You're taken to a page -- in a different wiki -- with links that explain how to use a wiki. It's useful to be able to look at these hints while first playing with our wiki.


  4. Still in the MathForum wiki, open up the page SandBox in a separate browser window. At the bottom of the Sandbox page is a link called Edit text of this page. Click on it. Enter text, and click the Preview button. This is a particularly nice feature of this flavor of wiki. You can see what the page is going to look like before you commit the changes. Experiment with various inputs, and see what they look like.


  5. Enter the following text: Link back to the HowToUseThis page. Now press the Preview button. You'll notice that HowToUseThis appears as a link. Move your cursor over it and you can see that it navigates to the HowToUseThis page. It's that easy to add hyperlinks within the wiki.


  6. For external links, try entering the text: Link to the [ MAA home page]. Click on the Preview button and you will see that you've created a hyperlink on the words [MAA home page] that links to .


  7. For your final trick, you'll create a new page. Enter the text: WikiArticle. Now press the Preview button. This time you should see the text WikiArticle followed by a question mark that is hyperlinked. If you click on that question mark (don't), you are taken to a page similar to the one you are on. You can create the text that will go on this page and press the Save button. At that point, if you returned to the Sandbox, you would see that the text is now WikiArticle without the question mark and WikiArticle is a hyperlink to your newly created page. When you are ready to create a page, that's all there is to it. Just choose a name that follows the naming convention of at least two words joined together, with each word beginning with an uppercase letter followed by lower case letters. For example, if you wanted to create a JOMA page, you could not call it JOMAPage but would have to call it JomaPage. In general, if you decide to create a new page, you should place a link on the new page back to the page you are linking from. This helps to knit your site together and makes your wiki more usable.

Daniel H. Steinberg, "The JOMA Developers' Area Wiki - How to Use a Wiki," Convergence (November 2004)


Journal of Online Mathematics and its Applications