Ever since it was released, I’ve been impressed with Alex Bosworth’s project SWiK. The goal – to collect and assemble information on open source projects – was certainly laudable and worthwhile. As time went by, however, I became more and more enamored of the technical underpinnings of project. Compared to other offerings, SWiK seemed at once better looking (Ajax, don’t you know?) and more sophisticated (simple consumption of feeds as well as production). It would, I thought, be an excellent solution for our now defunct library – and potentially wiki as well.
The catch was that the project was not open source. Or more accurately, I should say that the problem was that the project was not freely available and configurable to a community. It’s not, after all, as if I’m likely to improve the code myself.
Thus it was that I was very happy to get an email from Alex yesterday pointing to the announcement here: SWiK is now open sourced (GPLv2) under the project name SWiK-Source. This is great news, and if all goes well I’d expect SWiK to be the basis for our library – completing our opening of all of our old content (the value of which is debatable at this point, but still) – not to mention providing a wiki that allows for the easy incorporation and authoring of multiple content types.
If all of this sounds too good to be true, there is a catch. SWiK’s sophistication comes at a price; it’s not an easy project to build, as Alex and the gang freely admit. You can get started installing the dependencies here, and if any of you are Ubuntu folks take a look at the package matches list I’ve created on that page to see if you can improve on it. If necessary, I’ll eventually take a crawl through the CentOS packages to see what’s actually being installed to determine what the Ubuntu equivalent is, but I hope it doesn’t come to that.  I’m hoping that some of the package experts out there will simply know the answers, and figure out what the mappings are from CentOS to Ubuntu. 
Interestingly – in the context of some of the hybrid application claims I’ve been making recently – SWiK relies not just on Java and PHP, but Ruby as well. Maybe, like we’ve seen with TiddlyWiki, we’ll single language versions emerge, but for the time being SWiK’s going to rely on a multi-language foundation.
As we get further along the build and installation process, I’ll let you know how we make out. But in the meantime, my thanks to Alex and SourceLabs – this is great news for anyone looking for a high end wiki solution.
Disclaimer: SourceLabs is a RedMonk customer.
 I could, of course, simply install the dependencies outside of the package management facility, but my (and therefore RedMonk’s) rule is to strictly avoid that.
 This is another example of how the difference in packaging from distribution to distribution is both inefficient and problematic for users.