About TiddlyWiki

I was listening to one of Scott Hansleman’s podcasts the other day,and in it he mentioned the open source TiddlyWiki so I decided to check it out.  For those of you not familiar with wikis yet, have you been living under a rock?  (Sorry, just kidding, you can read up on Wikis over at Wikipedia.)

But for those of you who are already familiar with Wiki’s, especially from a technical perspective, you know that you need to web server to host a wiki so in order to implement that interactive part of the wiki. Or do you? Well that’s the convention wisdom that TiddlyWiki shatters! Unlike a server based Wiki, TiddlyWiki does everything using Javascript within the browser. I’m now sure how it works exactly because I haven’t dived into the code yet, but it does it and it does it well. And working with it is pretty awesome! Though not a long term benefit, I especially like how the download section on the TiddlyWiki web site says “You’ve already downloaded it!” because TiddlyWiki’s web site, of course, is implemented using TiddlyWiki!

That said, let me talk about the history of my own personal home page and how it relates to TiddlyWiki. For a long time I’d looked for a new personal home page for my browser that would let me easily add/edit/delete/reorganize the common links I use, and TiddlyWiki is now my new favorite in their aspect.

Back in the late 1990’s, after using the web a few years, I moved to a hand edited HTML page on my C: drive for my browser’s “home page” where I stored my favorite links. I would periodically edit that page when I wanted to add or remove links, but I didn’t edit it nearly as often as I would have liked because it always seemed like a bit too much a of PITA.  Later I changed my HOSTS file running on my machine to point www.myhomepage.com to a webserver running at localhost which made for a cleaner URL, but it didn’t change the difficulty of editing. This of course masked the real www.myhomepage.com site on the web, but as I didn’t use it I didn’t care! I stuck with that setup for years.

Then came along Google’s Personalized Home Page, and I was overjoyed. I used it for several months, configuring and reconfiguring. I even wished for enhancements to my Google Personalized Home Page, but over time it’s slowness to load just got to be too much for me.  I returned back to my custom HTML page at my locally customed domain “www.myhomepage.com.”

I even added a “text” field with the full file name of the local file so I could quickly cut and paste the filename into a file open dialog and edit the file. This improved things. But it’s nothng like TiddlyWiki!

I “installed” TiddlyWiki (i.e. copied the “empty” TiddlyWiki .HTML file) into a directory that is FolderShare‘d with my laptop (FolderShare is another of my favorite utilities) so that I can access the most updated verson do matter if I’m on my home computer or my laptop; this was a suggestion Scott Hanselman made, but I’m sure I would have figured it out too! :)

In a similar vein, one thing that makes a TiddlyWiki so cool is it can be stored on a USB key and then accessed from any computer!

How TiddlyWiki works is it uses a collection of “Tiddlers” which are page sections that TiddlyWiki dynamically displays on your page using some useful animations. A Tiddler is analogous to a “Topic Page” on a server-based wiki, but unlike topic page on a server based wiki you can and usually do have many Tiddlers open at the same time.

There are a few things I don’t like about it; nits really such as you can’t rename Tiddlers (or at least I haven’t been able to figure out how.)

I even started thinking about using TiddlyWiki for the home page of a websites I wanted to set up as it allows the disabling of editing over all but localhost.  However, after looking into this concept, I realized that it wouldn’t be useful unless editable on another machine besides localhost. And I believe, by it’s very nature, TiddlyWiki could not lockout someone from editing it because all of code for the TiddlyWiki is stored in the HTML file itself! I guess a hybrid could work, and I would like to see that, but then it wouldn’t be a portable single-file solution.

Check it out. I bet you’ll love it too.



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