XWiki vs Mediawiki

MediaWiki and XWiki are both excellent wikis, although each one uses different programming languages. The significant difference between them is given by the "Enterprise" and business-oriented features.
Logo XWiki Open Source
Logo Mediawiki

What is a wiki?

A wiki is classically presented as a set of alterable web pages by all users with permissions. It allows the collaborative creation of content (including text, images, videos etc.), as well as the creation of links between different sets of content. Wikis have been made popular by the famous multilingual Wikipedia encyclopedia (created in 2001) that became one of the most visited websites in the world, with more than 17 million articles (beginning of 2011). However, some wikis, as is the case with XWiki, go a step further by proposing additional features meant to address professional needs.


MediaWiki is a free, Open Source wiki software written in PHP, originally for use on Wikipedia. It is now also used by several other projects of the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation and by many other wikis, including the mediawiki.org website. MediaWiki supports multilingual management, various extensions and media formats, providing also options to configure the wiki appearance.

In terms of features, Wikimedia offers the "historical" ones of wikis:

  • Page creation
  • Page modification: adding or suppressing content
  • Creation of links between information
  • Discussion: the creation of a page can generate exchanges between all contributors
  • Versioning: it is possible to follow the modifications made on a wiki page (What was modified? By whom? When?)
  • Rollback: it is always possible to rollback and choose the previous version of the wiki page
  • Rights management: each registered user on a wiki has rights that allow him to create, modify, consult or delete wiki pages


XWiki distinguishes itself from the other wikis by offering enterprise-oriented features such as:

  • Office documents import (i.e a Word document is transformed into a wiki page; XWiki retains the layout, images contained in the document and also the documents attached to the page)
  • The management of unstructured data (like Wikipedia), as well as structured data (forms, spreadsheets...)
  • Export of the data in many formats (PDF, HTML, XAR...)
  • An activity stream that allows an overview of all the wiki activities
  • The customization of the wiki (logo, colors, look and feel of menus)
  • Connection to the Enterprise Directory (data retrieval, SSO)
  • Fine rights management (by space, page, user groups)

XWiki's strengths rely on its flexibility and scalability. It is also a web application development platform, allowing the creation of dedicated applications (Meeting management application, Customer Relationship Management etc) in order to help users meet business requirements through unique solutions. Extensions, applications, and macros are available for free. Moreover, XWiki SAS provides data import services, making it possible to import data into XWiki with the available import modules.

Comparison between XWiki and MediaWiki

In terms of technology and features

Source: wikimatrix.org

In terms of needs

Although both are wiki-based software, MediaWiki and XWiki not only use different programming languages but have significantly different focuses. MediaWiki allows the creation of a basic wiki but lacks enterprise-oriented features which XWiki fully integrates on its platform. Some of these include, but are not limited to:

  • Users and groups rights management
  • Ergonomics enabling easy handling of tools
  • WYSIWYG Editor available as a plugin
  • "Save and Continue" function
  • Importing Office documents
  • Programming and structuration features
  • Industrial management of wiki farms

Therefore, the PHP architecture of MediaWiki does not seem to be adapted to the needs of large enterprises. On the other hand, XWiki is fit to meet the needs of enterprises of all sizes as a result of its ability to scale and adapt to each user's preference. While XWiki Enterprise allows the management of both unstructured and structured data, MediaWiki only supports unstructured data. Moreover, the XWiki livetables make for easier navigation through the whole information available on wiki pages. It is even possible to filter data, based on a particular field, and to search by tags. Users experience is also improved through the 3 available editors: CKEditor, WYSIWYG and wiki syntax, making it accessible to both basic and advanced users in terms of extensively editing a wiki page.

In terms of market positioning

The major difference in terms of market positioning is the fact that XWiki is aimed towards businesses, workgroups, and developers, while MediaWiki mainly targets Wikipedia and final users. Most of MediaWiki's developers work on the Wikipedia project, pointing towards a focus on Wikipedia issues that do not really respond to business needs, but which relate to performance and functional optimization management of the large volume of contributions.

Unlike MediaWiki, XWiki SAS offers the type of professional support that is sought inside companies. There are several providers offering services based on MediaWiki, but these companies lack the much-needed committers, as well as wiki specialization, aspects that everyone can find at XWiki. XWiki SAS covers all these aspects by providing a team of specialized developers, capable of managing complex business projects and bringing an informed perspective on the decisions to be taken. While MediaWiki uses the requirements from Wikipedia, XWiki has its Enterprise Roadmap, which is also used internally.

Why use XWiki rather than MediaWiki?

XWiki: more than a wiki

While MediaWiki addresses basic wiki needs, XWiki goes much further and is a complete development platform. It allows starting with a simple knowledge base, which can then be improved by adding more wikis to address other issues. It seeks to meet business needs such as Knowledge Base, Procedures Management, Extranet and Communities, Digital Workplace and Custom Projects. For that reason it makes available over 750 Apps and Extensions, encouraging extensibility and scalability. With XWiki, it is possible to create personalized applications by using the App Within Minutes wizard, an intuitive tool aimed at non-technical users to help them tackle issues through uniquely tailored solutions.

Fully customizable, XWiki is fit to becoming a real collaborative solution and meeting a company's IT needs, be it in the form of Intranet, Extranet or Website. Through innovative features and a team backed up by 15 years of experience and over 500 projects, XWiki offers the possibility to organize new or pre-existing information in a comprehensive manner, regardless of the format. With a strong belief that knowledge sharing is key to operational excellence, XWiki aims to create solutions which empower people by offering the means to foster and boost collaborative cultures within companies.

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