For keeping track of notes, wiki systems like DokuWiki or MediaWiki are potentially extremely useful, especially for the ability to easily browse previous versions of notes, if I feel that some information is missing, which I might have accidentially deleted.

My notes however are very equation-heavy and I often want to write the equations directly in my note-taking software, rather than drafting them on paper first (especially when I also want to archive the derivation). DokuWiki's MathJax plugin is nice in that regard, insofar as MathJax allows defining macros with \newcommand -- a strict necessity for the type of lengthy equations I am working with, but for doing derivations right there it is still insufficient. Notably I would need to see a preview of the equation.

I was thus wondering if there are any wiki systems out there that are more accomodating to equation-heavy note-taking, preferably including a visual equation editor or side-by-side preview, while maintaining integrated file-versioning (as opposed e.g. to TiddlyWiki).

Some clarifications:

I would most likely need read/write access to such a solution from Linux, Windows and maybe in the future MacOS. Hosting a server in a virtual machine would be viable, if the solution is sufficiently good to justify the overhead. Plain-text storage (e.g. DokuWiki as opposed to MediaWiki) would be preferred for robustness and easy backups.

The main features that I want from the "Wiki" side of things are

  • Quick GUI access to a formatted form of prior page versions.
  • Search, preferably indexed for performance.
  • Interlinking of pages and the ability to place several fully functional pages at once on the screen (typical browser based wiki: By opening the links in new tabs/windows).
  • Easy creation of new pages, making the creation of quick snippets easier. Wikis typically accomplish this by allowing the creation of new pages by creating a link to a non-existent page.
  • A global "history of changes" view for browsing my work chronologically.

Regarding the term live preview, I mean literally "format-as-you-type". Consider e.g. the preview for answers/questions when writing here on stackexchange, though that one suffers from being positioned below instead of side-by-side with the editing field (a problem for longer texts).

  • 2
    What device/s and operating system/s are you using?
    – Alpar
    Nov 12, 2014 at 11:11

5 Answers 5


I don't know much about wiki-systems and how do they work, but I suppose that you want something wich features:

  • subversioning of your files
  • instantly preview of what you are typing
  • easy projects managing

How about ShareLaTeX? It provides all you need, plus is open source (there's a public repository with sources on Github). Else, if you don't mind sharing your work for free, you can do your versioning using Github.

  • Among the features of wiki systems that I want are crosslinking to other pages, and viewing them in webbrowser simply by clicking the reference (allows approximating a "spreading out the paper on the desk" workflow by opening multiple windows/tabs; Desktop wikis typically fail to provide such views.), and indexed search. I don't think ShareLaTeX gives any of these capabilities better than offline LaTeX software would.
    – kdb
    Nov 14, 2014 at 13:49
  • Oh, ok. I've never considered this approach. :-)
    – user8786
    Nov 14, 2014 at 14:08
  • Well, I'm also only experimenting after all ;) So far I haven't seen anything that can really beat handwriting and the ocassional LaTeX summary, though wikis would beat it in a highly collaborative use-case (where the overhead of less convenient math editing becomes secondary).
    – kdb
    Nov 14, 2014 at 14:20

It's not exactly a wiki, but you might want to consider IPython notebooks. They actually support a number of different languages, as well as rudimentary versioning. I actually came across them because I was following the development of the Julia language.

You're probably interested in their notation conventions, which is also MathJax.


You can try out gitit.

Gitit is a wiki backed by a git, darcs, or mercurial filestore. Pages and uploaded files can be modified either directly via the VCS’s command-line tools or through the wiki’s web interface. Pandoc is used for markup processing, so pages may be written in (extended) markdown, reStructuredText, LaTeX, HTML, or literate Haskell, and exported in ten different formats, including LaTeX, ConTeXt, DocBook, RTF, OpenOffice ODT, and MediaWiki markup.

You can type documents in LaTeX on an editor of your choice (most LaTeX editors provides live preview.) If you want lighter syntax, you may compose articles in org-mode instead.


This is just a suggestion (and the live preview works only if you are fine with writing in vim):

For the file versioning use a git based approach. I'd recommend gitlab. Making your own gitlab server is a task of 5min with gitlab omnibus.

Each repository comes with a wiki (which is a repository as well, hence the versioning and your 5th point). If you want to create pages, write a documentation etc. you can use your browser to do so (3th and 4th point). Gitlab also has a search function that should cover the 1st piont. As the wiki is a git repository you can access older versions directly in the browser (1st point).

Now, when you are writing equations and want to have a live preview this does not work in the browser. But what you can do is (as it is a git) edit the page on your local branch with Vim using the live preview plugin. Screenshot Once you are done with the equations, push to the server and continue editing in the browser. Of course you can continue to edit the wiki locally as well. ;)

This is not a perfect solution as the live preview part is kinda stitched to the rest. But I'm not aware of a software that would incorporate all the features you'd like to have.


If you have an IPad with an Apple Pencil,you can use the Nebo App note-taking app, and optionally their formula editor extension. It allows to export as Latex (there is a brief tutorial on their site). It might be good enough for your needs. Maybe similar, more powerful apps exist, check the App Store for yourself. I think Nebo is also available for Android.

For the Wiki part, just export to some Cloud Service with the IPad "Share" feature

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