January 16, 2012 —

Something I've been meaning to do for quite a while now but never got around to setting up was to create a personal wiki. Essentially, this would be an electronic notebook with a few extra bells and whistles.

I keep a few paper notebooks on my desk to scribble stuff down and as a quick reference for various things and it's been quite handy. The major missing things from using pen and paper of course are:

  • no copy + paste
  • can't search quickly
  • version control / archiving

These are huge drawbacks in my opinion. A wiki will take care of all of that, and in addition will allow me to attach files, such as images which I guess would allow me to scan pen and paper sketches if I really wanted (except that I don't own a scanner… hmmm).

Having said that, the one thing that's kept me using pen and paper for so long to keep project notes has been that typically when I write electronic notes I find myself preoccupied with formatting and silly things like that. Sometimes, formatting is important, but very often just actually writing stuff down is more important. Basically, pen and paper notes has helped to keep me focused on writing notes and not fiddling with whitespace, colours or whatever else.

But now, given that I'll be starting my adventure into “indie life” in two weeks, I want to start keeping some more organized notes and perhaps start using some basic project management tools (todo lists, issue/bug tracking, timelines). Pen and paper could probably still work, but two of the drawbacks I mentioned above (searching and archiving) are items that I do not want to do without.

I initially took a look at DokuWiki. DokuWiki is simple to use and very easy to install. The web server this site is hosted on just uses your typical LAMP configuration, so dropping a bunch of PHP files into a directory is pretty easy. Keeping things like todo lists straight would just involve me editing a wiki page.

However, I'd heard good things about Redmine and after checking it out, decided to go with that. It contains more features then DokuWiki, as it's not just a wiki. This is kind of dangerous really, as I'm still trying to keep this simple and reduce the urge to tinker with stuff. However, Redmine works by organizing things into projects and in addition to having support for wikis, it supports issue/bug lists, files/documents, calendars, forums, and also integrating with a code repository (e.g. to track issue fixes to changesets). I anticipate that down the road I'll likely have multiple projects on the go, so having things organized that way out of the box makes sense. Some of the extra project management tools in Redmine seem like they'll be helpful if I were to start working with someone else in the future too. Tracking issues definitely would be helpful for when I have something released.

On the other hand, there are a lot of general, non-project-specific notes I keep. Things such as OpenGL rendering tips/tricks/references. For right now with Redmine, which is project based, I'm just going to keep some kind of “General” project which will only contain a Wiki. At least Redmine allows you to search through specific projects or through all projects so it shouldn't be that bad.

Now I shall go and copy some of my handwritten notes over into Redmine.