[pmwiki-users] wiki farm terminology

Joachim Durchholz jo at durchholz.org
Sat Mar 18 09:24:53 CST 2006

Hans schrieb:
> I like to question the term
> "wiki engine" used in the documentation.
> Do we need to use it, as I don't think it helps?
> Instead of "how to install the PmWiki engine" I would rather say
> "how to install PmWiki", and instead of
> "Installing the pmwiki engine outside the web document tree"
> rather "Installing PmWiki outside the web document tree".

I think the term "PmWiki" usually covers the standard installation, i.e. 
the code plus one wiki.
The "engine" terminology just distinguishes the code part.

> And what further complicates some descriptions is that there is no
> name for "the PmWiki installation directory".
> This is not a friendly term, and possibly confusing.
 > [...]
> It is potentially confusing, apart from a mouthful, as pmwiki
> installs into several directories: the "Base" for pmwiki.php and its
> subdirectories scripts/ cookbook/ wikilib.d/ pub/

These are all part of the installation directory, so I don't see much 
potential for confusion here.

> In fact it may be more helpful to call the "pmwiki installation
> directory" simply the "Farm directory", abbreviated as var $FarmD.

I'd find that more confusing, actually. I agree that a "wiki farm" is a 
series of wikis (that terminology is indeed well-established, as several 
have already remarked), but I'd also say "let the analogy end here". 
It's entirely unclear what a "farm directory" might be; there's no 
established terminology here: it could be the directory that holds just 
the configuration of a farm, or a directory that holds the code, or a 
directory that holds code and wikis.

Established standard terminology is:

"Installation directory" - wherever administrator unpacked the archive 
to. I know it's a mouthful (too many syllables, word count is actually 
the same), so many people say "install directory" instead (but then 
that's getting "too geeky" for a tool like PmWiki that wishes to appeal 
to newbies).

"Engine" - whatever makes the software work. It think that term actually 
covers quite nicely the non-wiki components of PmWiki - it's somewhat 
fuzzy, in just the same way as there's a certain fuzziness about the 
exact border between a "local wiki" and "PmWiki code & configuration 
data". It's a term that invokes wheels and cylinders, not grass and 
flowers, and as such it's somewhat less "friendly", but then computers 
are more machine than biology either.

Yes, I'm all for sticking with standard terminology. Priorities on 
terminology are:
1) Make it clear.
2) Make it nice.
Sorry, but there's really no alternative to that. In my varied 
professional career, I have done a few years of documentation, and 
getting "too ornate" invariably created documents that were fun to read 
but didn't fulfill their purpose: teach the reader to deal with the 
contraptions in question.

> And call it that even if there are not several wikis or fields in the
> setup. Then we have simply  a single wiki small farm.

It's also a PmWiki installation. No difficulties with that.


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