Despite its rather uninspiring name, which is likely to make you dismiss it as yet another wiki adaptation, Tiddlywiki is quite an amazing tool that may well alter the way that you structure your own personal writing and notes.

The truly innovative aspect of a tiddlywiki is that it appears to be a complete fully featured wiki installation, as you would expect to find hosted on a server, yet it is entirely contained within a single html page. Merely opening a Tiddlywiki document in any browser is equivalent to installing a whole complex program. It manages to blur the distinction between a document, an application and a database driven website installation, by behaving like all of them. Keeping the complex functions of an advanced wiki but existing as a simple document.

The thing itself was developed by Jeremy Ruston and a Community of independent developers. He describes it as: "A free micro content WikiWikiWeb. Written in HTML, CSS and Javascript to run on any modern browser without needing any Server side logic. It allows anyone to create personal self contained hypertext documents that can be posted to a webserver, sent by email or kept on a USB thumb drive to make a WikiOnAStick. Because it doesn't need to be installed and configured it makes a great GuerillaWiki'". At the time of writing Tiddlywiki is at revision 2.1.3 and is published under an open source license. It is fully W3C compliant.

Like most truly innovative things it can take a while for the possibilities of Tiddlywiki to sink in. But if you have already realised the phenomenal potential of hypertext (as you are on Everything2 I will assume that you have) it is like being given an extremely lean agile method of playing with crosslinked text, without losing the ability to control or customise the look and feel of the tool that you are using.

I find that I have to agree with the reviews on the Tiddlywiki site when they say:

"TiddlyWiki offers a glimpse of how things are changing in terms of how people think about software... a new beginning for simple software." — Jeremy Wagstaff,
"The original TiddlyWiki by Jeremy Ruston is, without a doubt, one of the most amazing dynamic web apps I've ever seen (sorry Gmail.)" — recommendation
"It's blowing my mind." — Evan Williams, founder of Blogger and Odeo, EvHead
"What I love most about Tiddlywiki is that it is quite easy to use but incredibly flexible." — Ed Sim of Dawntreader Ventures, BeyondVC
"TiddlyWiki is completely blowing my mind... Completely tripped out. Try it and you'll see what I mean." — Russell Beattie of Yahoo!, Russell Beattie's Notebook
"OK, this is the first wiki interface I’ve seen that has real potential. Dunno quite why exactly, but this blows my mind." — Jason Kottke, Kottke's Remaindered Links

Tiddlywiki will be familiar to E2 users in as much that it uses nodes (called tiddlers in Tiddlywiki) for both its content and control. Everything is editable as a node (tiddler), the content, the stylesheet, templates even the default startup view. It has a comprehensive tagging system that helps to cross reference nodes, of course it lacks the softlinks of E2 but even that could easily be added if you know a bit of Javascript.

The best thing about Tiddlywiki is that all you need to do to get it, is browse it and save the page, thats it, you have a fully functioning copy of the whole thing. To use it you simply add your writing and links like in E2 and save it. You can then distribute it as easily as you would an html file. It could be said that the major downside of Tiddlywiki is that it does too much, and as a result has options and controls that can be a bit daunting at first. If it seems to complex you can always just delete the nodes that contain the over complicated bits, if anything screws up you just get a new one.

I use it a lot, for different jobs, but where it excels is as an organiser and idea aggregator. Lifehack fanatics love it and there is a version specifically developed for GTD tasks. I have several on my hard drive that are bookmarked in my browser, whenever a thought occurs, or I see something that I want to record I add it to tiddlywiki then add hardlinks (using [[tiddlywiki link]] rather than [E2 link]). New nodeshells are automatically created when the hardlinks are clicked. I have also changed the template so that it looks just like E2. Every time that i use it I am always surprised just how elegant the code is, it does everything that you could wish for well, all of the controls behave intuitively and are well placed. My biggest criticism is one that I have for a lot of projects that are led by programers, I wish the aesthetics had been considered as much as its mechanics.


The Tiddlywiki homepage and source

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