Starting to use wikiCalc

The first time you run wikiCalc you need to set it up to publish to a web site. This can be a little tedious, much like setting up Blogger or similar systems. Once set up, though, it is very easy to use (I hope!).

If you just want to experiment a bit with editing in wikiCalc, you may want to have it automatically setup a simple demonstration environment so you can avoid all the tedium of entering the setup information. If wikiCalc determines that it is running for the first time, with no Hosts already defined, it will offer to do a Demonstration Setup. Choose that option and then follow the instructions there. For more information, see "Editing and Publishing" below.

If you want to do a full, manual setup, here are the instructions. Also, you might find these instructions helpful later to make changes to the demo setup so that you can use it to publish the pages you create to a web site.

wikiCalc has the concept of "Hosts" (a particular web server, or a particular place on your local machine) that will store the final web pages and their source files. On each host you have one or more "Sites" (groups of pages to edit and directory where the published HTML is stored for serving). You start by "Adding" the definition of a new site, which will then need you to first add the definition of a new host. Read the help text on the forms you fill out carefully. To edit these settings after you save them, use the Manage Sites and Manage Hosts commands on the Page tab.

As explained on the "wikiCalc Architecture" page, you can run wikiCalc either locally on your personal computer or on a remote server. When run on your personal computer, communications with the remote server where your published files will reside is accomplished through FTP. When you run wikiCalc as a CGI on the computer where your published files are to be stored there is no need for FTP. The FTP URL required for setting up a host is just the domain name used to login to the FTP server where you will publish. It is something like, or, etc., and does not have "/" or "ftp:" in it.

If you don't provide an FTP URL, then wikiCalc can be used to just create HTML files on your local machine when you "publish" (this is how the demo setup is structured). To learn about the product that is OK and it is also the way to run a hosted version of wikiCalc on a remote server. If you don't know where you can publish by FTP, you might want to check with your ISP. On the ListGarden "Storing RSS on inexpensive web server space" page you will find information that might be helpful.

After defining a host, you can define a site on that host. Again, read the help carefully. Make sure that Path for HTML exists. This may be tricky when doing local publishing on a remote server, as it may be a relative path from the program directory to the HTML directory (e.g., from cgi-bin/wikicalc to html/site1 using "../../html/site1). wikiCalc creates most other directories that it needs. [If you run into problems, you can always delete the "wkcdata" directory in the working directory where you run wikiCalc to start anew (this deletes all host and site definitions and all local copies of files being edited).]

Creating New Pages

Once you have a site defined, you can select it to see the files available for edit. If nobody else has created anything on the site with wikiCalc (the normal case) the list will be empty. Press the "Create New Page" button. Assign a page name (which will be the filename before the ".html" which you should not include) and a more descriptive name to see in filename lists, used by the publishing template, etc. (you will be able to change the Host Page Name later but not the Page Name). [Note: If you use the name "index" you can create the default page for that directory.] There are a few template pages you can use to speed the initial creation of a page. The Page Template "Use a shared template" radio button will show the options. When done press "Create".

Editing and Publishing

To edit the new page, click on the "Edit" button next to it to view an editable spreadsheet-like view. Follow instructions there (there is a Help button). You can change column widths, fonts, etc., with the Format tab and do some other things on the Tools tab.

You can publish the page to the server by using either the Publish button on the Publish tab or on the Page tab. The one on the Publish tab can leave the page "checked out" and ready for continued edit. The one on the Page tab deletes the editing copy of the page source on your local machine and just leaves a copy on the server. When you select "Edit" again it will download the most recently published copy. If someone else (using wikiCalc on, say, another computer) has started editing a page on that site and has not published it from the Page tab, their name will be listed. You can still edit it, too (this was a requested feature that may be changed). Whoever publishes last wins. If you have more than one person maintaining and editing a site, be careful and watch the indications of who is editing (and update it with the Restore button on the Page tab if you are not doing server-based editing)! In simple terms, editing a page "checks it out" and publishing from the Page tab (not the Preview tab) "checks it in". Currently that button is the only easy way to check something in. If you are doing "local" publishing (such as when wikiCalc runs on a remote server) there is no need to Restore -- the edit status of each page is updated each time the Page tab is displayed.

For more information about how wikiCalc uses files and directories, see the "wikiCalc Architecture" page.

Make sure to check out a list of some of the known bugs on the "wikiCalc Bug List" page. Check back periodically to see new ones that are found.
wikiCalc Beta Home Page