What should I use to create an internal manual for my department?
December 29, 2011 10:43 AM   Subscribe

What is the best (Mac compatible) program/thing to use to write an internal manual for my department at work?

I’m trying to write a manual for my department at work, and I’m having a hard time figuring out the best way to do it.
My original idea was a wiki, but it looks like the vast majority of them require it to be run through a server with MySql, which… I really don't know how to do, and also I don't know if my boss would approve it. It has to be something that I can write on my desktop, and then, once it’s approved, move it into a public folder on the shared server.

Right now I’m working with TiddlyWiki, which is okay for me, but because it’s so easy to edit by accident, I don’t know if I can let it loose on the world. (whoops, I double clicked- oh god what did I do now everything is gone) Plus, adding images is a little tedious.

What I need:
• Will run on a desktop (Mac OSX), not through a server.
• Ability to interlink pages in the way Wikipedia does. (well, I guess any website, really) and display images.
• Can be restricted to one or two users, or at least isn’t immediately and obviously open to everyone.
• Can be taught to minimally-technically savvy people in the event that I leave the job/am trampled by an elephant/flee the country.
• Free or very cheap (this is my pet project; I’m unlikely to get authority to spend hundreds of dollars. Although if there’s really good, easy manual writing software that is that expensive, maybe I can keep it in my back pocket for if they want to do this for other departments.)

What I’d like:
• Ability for people without editing access to leave comments
• Ability to tag pages
• Search feature
• Backup of multiple versions or an edit history

I’ve been thinking of ditching the wiki idea, and just writing a damn website. Not super secure, but I don’t think people will maliciously change things- I’m more worried about accidental edits. (For now, anyway.)
The problem is teaching it to other people (plus, while I can write HTML from scratch all day, I don’t really want to for this).

So, can I do this? What is there that’s out there that I can use?
posted by insufficient data to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
You can make a TiddlyWiki read-only. If it's ultimately to be served over the web, "The chkHttpReadOnly
option (checked by default) hides all editing options when your wiki
is viewed over an HTTP link. This means you can put in on your server
(FTP, etc.) and users who see it over the web will get a read-only

If it's served on a network mounted filesystem, you can just make the file permissions read-only.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:53 AM on December 29, 2011

You don't want to run a web app or a web page on your desktop. Get a dedicated server. You can get a linux one so very cheap.

Otherwise, just write the documentation in word and drop it on the shared folder and save everyone a bunch of hassle.
posted by empath at 10:54 AM on December 29, 2011

So, three weeks by writing a standard manual in a word processor, vs. three months of implementing software that needs to be learned? There's a bit of X-Y here where you're not actually describing the purpose or use of the manual, just the after effects you'd like you see.

And don't worry about any hit-by-bus functionality, 99% of that concern is alleviated by just having the stuff written down somewhere.
posted by rhizome at 12:10 PM on December 29, 2011

Wordpress/Typepad or other similar free, hosted blog platform? Use a super plain template. Tag your entries to your hearts content, leave comments on for your non-editing staff, share the login (and thus the ability to add posts) with a couple other people. If you can type in a word processor, you can blog.
posted by donnagirl at 12:45 PM on December 29, 2011

Best answer: I have recently installed DokuWiki which saves contents on the file system as plain text -- no database, editable with usual text editors. It's awesome.
posted by knz at 4:42 PM on December 29, 2011

2nding knz re. DokuWiki. IMHO its biggest advantages are: 1) if your users are familiar with Wikipedia, then they'll have no problem with DokuWiki; 2) as knz says, it's plain text, which unlike Wikipedia's MediaWiki, means no database. More direct comparisons here.
posted by webhund at 3:53 PM on January 2, 2012

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