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Mish-mash of heavily customised DokuWiki with a dedicated Etherpad running for each new wiki article.

Commissioned by Workshop Project for FREE, A DESIGN EDUCATORS WORKSHOP. Design by Anja Groten.


DokuWiki plugins:

  • PDF.js → to embed pdf files
  • Gallery → to create galleries of pictures from a folder
  • iframe → to embed different iframes, such as YouTube and Vimeo videos, soundcloud tracks, GoogleDocs files, etc
  • imagebox → to add a caption to an image
  • move → to rename a page
  • smtp → to send emails, eg. when an admin makes a new user account, a new confirmation email will be sent to the specified email address of that account
  • wrap → to add html tags inside the textbox of a page; useful when you want to wrap a portion of text inside a div with a specific class (to manipulate it in css)


Note: the wiki runs on a digital ocean server, and I extensively followed the documentation present on the digital ocean website to set things up. For the most part though, it’s a matter of working on a unix environment with Ubuntu (in this case, but interchangeable with some other distros if you want).

The setup consists of Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS and nginx (as it seems to work better with node.js). Let's Encrypt for the SSL certificate.

Install DokuWiki

As stated above, I presume you already have a vps set up, and running a unix-flavored distro. Often times, many hosting providers offer the option of a one-click installation of popular software, and DokuWiki is usually one of them.

In that case, jump to 2. Otherwise:

  1. follow this guide to have tips on how to install DokuWiki (don't bother that the guide is marked as deprecated, start reading from the section Install and Configure DokuWiki)
  2. add custom theme: copy the free folder (here) inside /lib/tpl/ (check this article as a reference) (note: you have to manually copy the folder inside /lib/tpl/, as this custom template is not available on the DokuWiki’s Extension Manager)
  3. install composer on your vps, see this article
  4. run composer install from the same directory where composer.json sits, and wait for all packages to be downloaded and installed
  5. replace template.php with custom version that you find in /inc (ref)
  6. replace lang.php with custom version in /inc/lang/en (ref) (some labels are different, for example: Old Revisions → History, etc — change them as you need)
  7. replace page.js with custom version in /lib/scripts (the TOC button works differently) (ref)
  8. for nice urls, first set some options in the panel config and update the .htaccess file in /wiki accordingly (see this, and double check this section), then update nginx config file

TODO: figure how to keep customised copies of the files in 5., 6. and 7. so when dokuwiki has to be upgraded there's not need to manually replace them (DW lets you make local copies of config files, but it seems to be a bit harder when you need to manipulate core files).

UPDATE: apparently no way to make a local copy of core files (clearly). Need to use diff when update the wiki software.

Install Etherpad

We need to install node.js to be able to run etherpad (which is why we opted to setup a linux server from scratch).

  • install node.js with nvm (in case you need to install Ubuntu software to build the nvm package, do sudo apt-get update and then sudo apt-get install build-essential libssl-dev) (ref)
  • install etherpad-lite
  • switch to etherpad user, su - etherpad (if it does not exist, make one)
  • make new subdomain,
  • set reading access to let’s encrypt certificates for etherhpad user and eth group (make new group): sudo chgrp -h group folder / file + sudo chgown -h user folder / file from /etc/ all the way down to the live folder and also the /archive folder inside /letsencrypt
  • set ssl paths to etherpad’s settings.json
  • set pad to be accessible from sub domain (change proxy pass under location/ from http to http)
  • use subdomain url when calling the iframe from the wiki’s main.php file
  • set iframed etherpad to be accessible from the same server (ref)

start Etherpad Lite instance managed by pm2

pm2 keeps the etherpad running also we we log out from the server and in case we update the server, pm2 restart the etherpad as well.

  • install pm2
  • to start the etherpad, from your root server folder do:
cd /var/www/pad
pm2 start bin/ --name='Etherpad-Lite'

This will start the Etherpad server. You can check it is correctly running by doing pm2 list: you will see a table with Etherpad-Lite and the status online.

You’ll get a new APIKEY.txt in the same folder, copy that text on line 100 of main.php (inside lib/tpl/free/):

$instance = new EtherpadLite\Client('APIKEY', $baseUrl);

If you are working locally, you can simply do


to start the Etherpad. Of course you can install pm2 as well and use it on your local environment.

Etherpad API

This is handy table to show some of the options you can use to interact with Etherpad, in case you want to extend and or add other functionalities to it.

As of now, I set it to create a common pad group, and for each article created, to make a new pad instance inside the common pad group.

You can read more about it here. See also this.

action syntax
create pad
create group
create group pad
get text$samplePad
list all pads in group

DokuWiki plugin-specific syntax

Once you setup all the dokuwiki plugins listed above, you can use them by following these tips and syntax.

Add a PDF

  1. upload the pdf through the file manager and add it to the page. you’ll get something like this {{file.pdf}}

  2. add the following syntax to make the pdf browsable once the article will be saved:

    pdfjs>, so you'll have


    notice the colon after the major sign and before the filename



Add an iframe


for vimeo, click on the share button, then iframe and copy only the url after iframe src=, eg

<iframe src="" width="640" height="270" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
<p><a href="">Mouse</a> from <a href="">ELO films</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>

for youtube, click on embed, then copy only the url after src=, eg

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Add an image gallery

  • Open the file uploader (click Edit this page on any article)

  • Select, or drag and drop a file over the 'Select File’ / Upload area

    Before clicking on Upload, prepend to the filename a ’namespace’ in the form of:


    A namespace is a folder in the wiki parlance.

    Since we need a namespace to create a gallery, I suggest to choose a name for the above namespace that makes semantically sense, or that is a clear reminder to the image gallery you want to create, etc.

  • Once you have uploaded the first file, the prepended namespace will be visible on the tree menu in the Media File column (eg, playground, test, etc)

  • Now click on the newly created namespace, then drag and drop all the rest of pictures you want to upload. check if they are all correctly uploaded inside that namespace/folder

  • Close the File Manager window and create the image gallery like this


    Notice again the colon before the namespace

Add a googledoc

For example, the following code:


will embed a google slides document. To get the link, either for a google slides or google docs, go to File > Publish to the web and select the Embed tag. From there, you will have a link like this

<iframe src=""></iframe>

Copy only the actual link within src=“”, eg

and put it like so


Dev note

Dokuwiki is still dependant on an old version of the css preprocessor less. This caused me some problem syntax wise. Also, it heavily uses jQuery, which can be a burden or a relief depending on your approach and background.