Using Wikis & WebDAV in OS X Mountain Lion

A wiki is a repository of dynamically created and managed content, or content created or edited by multiple users collaboratively. This article is about using the wiki service in Mountain Lion. I reference file services with WebDAV because it is a very nice integration piece that I think a lot of people will find pretty beneficial.

To get started with the Wiki service, first turn it on. This one isn’t heavily dependent on host names (other than being able to access the server from a browser) or directory services (other than being able to authenticate users, but local accounts are perfectly functional) and it doesn’t require the Websites service to be running as well. One should always have good working directory services and host names, still…

To enable the service, open the Server app and click on Wiki in the list of SERVICES in the List Pane.

There are two configuration options. The first is to select who is able to create wikis. Use the “Wikis can be created by” drop-down list to select “all users” if anyone with an account on the server should be able to create a wiki or “only some users” to bring up the Wiki Creators screen.

If only some users can create new wikis, use the plus sign (“+”) at the Wiki Creators screen to add users and/or groups to the list of users that can create wikis. Click on OK when all users and groups that can create wikis are added. In a school I would imagine that only teachers or IT staff would be able to create wikis. Once a wiki is created, pages inside the wiki can still be created by non-wiki creators.

The other option available is the handy dandy WebDAV interface to the wikis. When you enable this option, you can connect to a server from OS X or iOS via WebDAV and access files in each wikis document repository. To be clear, this option doesn’t provide access to the user documents, but does provide access to the wiki documents. We’re going to check the box for “Enable WebDAV access to Wiki files” and then click the ON button.

Once the service starts, click on the View Wiki link in the Wiki workspace in Server app.

Here, click on the Log in button and enter a user with access to the server, preferably one who can create wikis.

At the Wikis page, you will then see a list of all wikis you have access to. Note that the previous screen showed one wiki and now we see two. That’s because one of the wikis has permissions that allow “All unauthenticated users” access to the wiki, which we’ll describe shortly.

The first thing most administrators will do is create a wiki. To do so, click on the plus sign (“+”) icon on the web page and at the resultant screen, click on New Wiki.

At the “Create a new wiki” prompt, provide a name for the wiki and a brief description for it.

Click on Continue.

At the Set permissions screen, enter each user or group to provide access to edit and view wiki pages. Here, you’ll have the options for Read & Write (users can view and edit pages in the wiki), Read only (users can only view the contents of your pages) and No access (users have no access to the wiki). There is a group for All logged in users, which includes every user with access to the server and another for All unauthorized users, which includes guests to the server. Once you’ve given the appropriate permissions, click on Continue.

Note: You don’t have to get this perfect now as you can always edit these later.

At the Set Appearance screen, you can choose an icon for the wiki (shown in the wiki list and when you open the wiki) as well as a color scheme for the wiki. Choose the appropriate appearance for your wiki (again, you can always change this later) and then click on the Create button.

Once you’ve created your first wiki, let’s edit it and customize the content. To do so, click on it from the list of available wikis. Click on the cog-wheel icon and then Wiki Settings… to bring up the Wiki Settings page.

Here, you’ll see the previously entered name and description as well as options to enable Calendar (only available if Calendar Server is running on the server) and Blog, which enables ¬†a blog service for the wiki (wiki administrators can post blog entries to the wiki). Click on Appearance.

Here, you will have the previous two options as well as the ability to upload a banner (which should be 62 pixels high) and background for each wiki.

Click on Permissions. Here, you’ll see the permissions previously configured as well as options to configure who can comment on articles (nobody disables comments completely) in the wiki and whether comments require approval (moderation).

Click on Save. Now, let’s edit the splash page. To do so, click the pencil icon in the top navigation bar.

At the edit screen, the top nav bar is replaced by a WYSIWIG editor for managing the page. Here you can justify, link, insert media and of course edit the text you see on the screen. I recommend spending some time embedding links, inserting tables, making text look like you want it to and editing the content to reflect the purpose of the wiki. Click Save when you’re done. Click the pencil again to edit it, and let’s create a new wiki page. Keep in mind that link wikipedia, each page should be linked to from other pages in the order they should be read. Unlike most wikis, there’s actually an index page of all the articles, which can come in handy.

From the edit page, to create a new page and link to it, enter some text (or lasso some) that you’ll use as the link to access the new page you’re creating. Then click on the arrow and select “New page.”

Note: Use Enter URL to link to an existing page or an external website.

At the New Page screen, provide a name for the new page (the lasso’d text automatically appears as the Page Title) and click on the Add button.

Click Save and then click on the newly created link. You can now edit the new page the same way you edited the previous pages. Click on the disclosure triangles in the right sidebar to Comment on articles, link articles to related articles, tag articles and view editing history.

Now for the fun part. Click on Documents. Here, you’ll see the pages you already created. Click on the plus sign and select the option to Upload File to the wiki.

At the Upload File dialog, click on Choose File and then select a file to upload. Click Upload when selected.

Then from the Finder of an OS X client, use the Go menu to select “Connect to Server”. Enter the name or IP of the server and then click on Connect.

Assuming you can access the server, you should then be prompted for a username and password. Enter it and click Connect.

Eventually, the file(s) will display. You can connect to this same screen through an iPad using a 3rd party WebDAV client or the build in options in Pages.

Managing wikis is as easy as its ever been, with the new options for appearance being a nice add-on. Active Directory integration is as easy as binding the server to Active Directory and using the accounts listed in Permissions of pages.¬†Overall, the ability to edit, upload and view documents from the Wiki is a great new feature in OS X Mountain Lion Server, worthy of checking out if you haven’t already!

3 Comments

  • Peter Glock
    August 25, 2012 - 3:34 am | Permalink

    I’ve been trying to upload documents to the wiki from the finder through webdav, but without any success because of permissions issues. Are there any additional setup steps?

    • August 27, 2012 - 8:15 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t seen any permission issues, provided the users have access to create content in the wiki itself. Mind attaching a screenshot (feel free to cut out your environments info)?

  • Peter Glock
    September 4, 2012 - 4:07 am | Permalink

    Charles,
    It’s taken me a while to generate a screenshot. This is what I get if I:

    1. create a test wiki – logged on as localadmin
    2. upload a document as localadmin (I used the default ‘About Stacks’ doc
    3. connect from a different client via the finder as webdav
    4. try to drag a doc in to the same location as the ‘About Stacks’ doc I get a challenge for userid/pass, then get a ‘you do not have permissions…’ notice.

    I can mail a screenshot if it would help.

    Can you drag/drop docs into your wiki?

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