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TiddlyWiki

// August 3rd, 2005 // Reviews, Software and Web Design // Print Article //

I just realized that in my absence I never posted about TiddlyWiki!

“What the heck is a TiddlyWiki,” you ask? Well duh! Its a reusable non-linear personal web notebook.

Please Read On…

“What does that mean?”

TiddlyWiki is a single, self-contained html file, like a web page. It is like a blog, but each entry is like a little index card, called a tiddler. Before I really lose you, this is what it looks like. Each entry in the center of the screen is a tiddler. Go play around with it, close and open some tiddlers. Your changes wont affect the website once you reload or leave it.

A TiddlyWiki is like a blog because it’s divided up into neat little chunks, but it encourages you to read it by hyperlinking rather than sequentially. So instead of reading one long page in a notebook to find something, you have a pile of index cards (tiddlers) that are searchable, tagged, and link to each other. Picture yourself selecting only the index cards you want to read, and laying them down in a column on the desk in front of you. That is what TiddlyWiki does with tiddlers on your browser. It’s like a wiki because anybody can edit it. Saving it is another topic.

“I’m still not quite following you.”

I know, its a difficult concept to grasp, but stick with me here! Once you get your brain around the concept, it’s so easy to use, and so versitile!

TiddlyWiki isn’t just a blog with short entries, because YOU customize it as you use it. As for what it actually is comprised of, its just one html file. So go to this tiddler and follow the simple one click instruction to save your own blank TiddlyWiki on your computer. Then you can save your changes. Some people use TiddlyWiki as a webpage. They can easily edit it on their computer, and upload it to the web where it can be viewed in it’s own wonderful fashion, but not edited by readers.

It’s written in HTML, CSS and JavaScript to run on any modern browser without needing any ServerSide logic. It allows anyone to create personal SelfContained hypertext documents that can be posted to any web server, sent by email or kept on a USB thumb drive to make a WikiOnAStick.

“So it’s a personal wiki then?”

Almost. Though TiddlyWiki tends to follow Wiki concepts, it diverges in one key area: Presentation. Most Wikis are page-oriented: They present content and WikiWord links, but when you click on a link, the Wiki opens a new page of content. You view content a page at a time. To go back to the calling page, you click the Back button on your browser. This is very useful for long articles. The Wikipedia is an excellent example of this concept.

TiddlyWiki, however, is more element-oriented. TiddlyWiki presents content and WikiWord links, but when you click a link, the content pops open in its own space on the same page. The huge advantage of this is that you are seeing the linked content in context along with the content of the calling link. It really makes working with the content more intuitive because you see not only the related information, but you see it with what it’s related to. This is especially useful when using TiddlyWiki for Notes and Documentation. The caveat to this is that it doesn’t work that well for long articles. TiddlyWiki is more suited to MicroContent or short, related chunks of information.

“Ah, I see! So what use is it?”

TiddlyWiki has almost limitless possibilities:

  • It works great as a documentation manager for products, software, etc.
  • Do you have a desktop full of tiny .txt file reminders and notes? It can store little bits of information, reminders, and notes like that with ease.
  • It makes a great FAQ page.
  • Turn it into a todo list, with items as tiddlers.
  • Some use it as a blog.
  • Some use it as a website.
  • Make it your own personal dictionary/encyclopedia.

Or, if you require more than TiddlyWiki can do, try one of the multitude of adaptations:

“Can I see some examples?”

Sure! Many people are using TiddlyWiki for many different reasons:

  • Christopher James has compiled a comprehensive guide to TabletPCs at http://www.tabletpcwiki.net/
  • Miguel Centellas has created an extensive guide to Bolivian politics at http://www.centellas.org/politics/politiddly.html
  • Bruno Tiago Rodrigues has created a geocaching community site in Portuguese at http://travelbugrace.geocaching-pt.net/
  • Charles Stross, a celebrated British ScienceFiction writer, has used TiddlyWiki for his ‘Tough Guide to the Rapture of the Nerds’ at http://www.antipope.org/charlie/toughguide.html
  • Kristoffer Nilaus Olsen, a member of the Danish Student Group of Amnesty International, has used TiddlyWiki to collate reports of breaches of human rights. His site is at http://www.resultat.dk/sg/tw/students.html
  • Elise Springer, a philospher at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, USA, is using TiddlyWiki for her homepage at http://espringer.web.wesleyan.edu/
  • Martin Silcock, an brand researcher working with Millward Brown, is using TiddlyWiki for his homepage at http://www.explorate.co.uk/
  • Many people are using the GTDTiddlyWiki variant for personal productivity, and there’s been some interesting experiments in TiddlyWikiFiction

Help, Tips, and Resources

If you still can’t get your head around TiddlyWiki, just download the html file and play with it! You’ll see its easy as pie.
I suggest you check the TiddlyWiki website first, as Jeremy has really streamlined the TiddlyWiki homepage.

There are many resources for Tiddlywiki, a lot more than when we first wrote about it anyway! A great beginner’s guide is at TiddlyWiki for the Rest of Us. For a good guide, check out the TiddlyWiki Guides wiki, or TW Help

If you have a specific question, check the TiddlyWikiFAQ by the Bairds, or drop me a comment! And if you’re looking for formatting help (embedding images, making text different colors, etc.) then check out the TiddlyWiki Cheat Sheat provided by Dmitri Popov, or the formatting guide at TwHelp.

For fun tips, check out Jim Barr’s TiddlyWikiTips.com site. And lastly for plugins, extensions, macros, and styles, see Jeremy’s list of content publishers.

I do hope you give TiddlyWiki a try. Its really fun to play around with, and has still, two years later, completely changed the way I save small bits of information on my computer.

PS: The Official Euicho.com Tiddlywiki is Here.

 

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14 Responses to “TiddlyWiki”

  1. A masterful and lucid explaination of a difficult concept. Easily the best TiddlyWiki description I’ve ever seen.

  2. euicho says:

    Wow, thanks! I had yet to read a good explaination since it is such an alien concept to grasp at first.

  3. Mike Flynn says:

    Here is my approach when explaining something like this. Rather than first describe the functions and capabilities of what you are providing it is better to help orient the reader by explaining “why” this specific “thing” was created. What did you not like about the current way to do something? How does providing what you have provided improve what was there before? Users can grasp what you have provided if they see the mental process you went through to create this new “thing”.

    I hope that helps…

  4. euicho says:

    Thanks, I’ll definately keep that in mind in future articles.

  5. Karis says:

    Thanks Euicho, you’re explanation was usefull & clarifed the subject

  6. marionxlx says:

    hi 2 all.
    hello world! It is nice site. Keep working!
    best regards
    i found you here http://google.com ^^

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I like it and the background and colors make it easy to read

  8. BMCaleb says:

    Excellent site, added to favorites!!
    adult

    I am sorry if it to you not interestingly.

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