09:20 Fri 05 Jan 2007
[, , , ]

I’ve been using TiddlyWiki over the last few months, and love it. It’s essentially a wiki-in-a-file, but the difference between a server-side wiki and the extremely lightweight TiddlyWiki is profound.

I like server-side wikis, and they’re great for many things. However, when I’ve experimented with them in the past for personal, rather than collaborative, use they’ve been too clunky. This despite the fact that I run my own server, am very familiar with the technologies involved, etc. It didn’t matter, the server-side model just wasn’t working.

I also experimented with things like FreeMind, but they didn’t quite suit what I had in mind. Mind-mapping is great, but somehow a little unwieldy for me. For what I was doing, the visual stuff seemed to get in the way.

I can’t remember their names, but I also played with text editors that had hypertextual features built into them. These also didn’t quite do it for me.

Then I stumbled across TiddlyWiki, which has a lot of advantages. First, it’s extremely lightweight, because it’s just a page of HTML. Second, it’s plain text, which I appreciate a great deal. Third, it’s essentially just HTML, which I’m extremely familiar with. Fourth, because it’s just a single file, it’s really easy to organize, put into version control, etc. Fifth, it’s almost always convenient for me because I almost always have a browser open when I’m at a machine.

Also, I’m impressed with the fact that it’s all JavaScript. I’m into JavaScript development anyway, and this is a fantastic JavaScript application, one that really shows the potential of what can be done with scriptable HTML/CSS.

I use a lot of it for lists, but it’s proven ‘stickier’ than my other list ‘formats’ (usually just plain text files) because it’s very easy to jam other notes or instructions in there—because it’s hypertext. If you kind-of complete a task on the list and need to put instructions on how you did it, or what to do next, with that list item, you just create a new node and link to it. And all of that is contained within the file. It works very well for me.

So, if you need a notebook application that includes hyperlinks and doesn’t require anything beyond a modern browser to work, and which uses a completely standard format (HTML), you should definitely take a look at TiddlyWiki.

(I’ve never used HyperCard, but something makes me think that people who liked HyperCard might appreciate TiddlyWiki)

Leave a Reply