electronic brain surgery since 2001

Gathering DokuWiki Usage Data

One thing that always bugs software developers is that they never really know how their software is used in the end. How much data goes into the software? How many people are using it? On what systems does it run? All these questions are usually answered by guesswork only.

The plugin screen

We had the same problem with DokuWiki. For example we might change the minimum requirements of DokuWiki to PHP5 or we may want to use SQLite in the future. But we don't have any idea how this would affect the user base.

So I wondered how I could get some feedback from the users. One way would have been to run a user survey. But the problem is that most data we're interested in is very technical. Many users probably don't even know the answer to our questions.

An automated way for gathering information had to be found. Of course I couldn't just build this into DokuWiki and have it send back data without the user knowing. People can expect better from Open Source.

Instead I created the Popularity Feedback Plugin for DokuWiki. It is an admin plugin that allows users to manually send anonymous data directly from their wiki to my server. This includes information like the number and size of the pages and files, a list installed plugins, info about the used PHP version and some more data.

I'm currently just collecting the data, but will eventually make it available in a detailed analysis page. The collected plugin info will also later be used to show the popularity of plugins at the main plugin overview.

I haven't decided yet if this plugin will come preinstalled in future DokuWiki releases, but I guess that would make sense. Until then I encourage everyone to download and install the plugin to help me and the other developers with future decisions.

dokuwiki, statistics, feedback, plugin
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