Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thoughts on Tiddly Wiki

I mentioned last week that I was trying out Tiddly Wiki.

Pros:
Thns is a really neat application and implementation. It turns out that there are several variations on the theme on the web. I like that it's easy to save two copies, one for a daily journal, and one for a simple notes and todo list. I like keeping the two separate, it's easier for me to find my todo items itf I don't have to search through any journal entries that I'm making. I like that I can modify the source code. I haven't, but I like that control. I can look at it to learn as well as use it to play with new things that I learn. The entire application is a single .html file, making it portable, it can reside easily on even the smallest thumb drives. The editing is pretty standard, using the "standar" wiki editing format, that is used by many other wiki tools, including Media Wiki. Finally, there are a few keyboard shortcuts to prevent me from having to use my mouse.


Cons:
There aren't enough keyboard shortcuts. I like to be able to do as much as possible without having to use my mouse. It's a local wiki, which is great for my own todo lists, but I can't share it with anyone, at least without some additional effort. It may be possible to host the .html file on a service that allows me to share documents and have multiple people using it, but I think we are more often going to be overwriting what the other person does, if that's the case. Mostly though I just want to be able to share a read-only version of things. Being able to send the html for the visible tiddlers to the clipboard would be interesting, then I could just paste that into another application, it wouldn't be ideal, but it would make sharing my list easier. The default behavior is to make a backup copy of each change (just like a normal wiki), but to do that, the entire .html document is saved with a date-time stamp. Not an issue at first with a 160KB file, but what happens a year from now when I have a 5 MB document that is being backed up 3-4 times a day. I don't like the prospects of space that it can use. Too bad there is no built-in keep archive for 10 days type of function. Maybe I can write it.

My view:
There are more things that I like about this than I dislike. I'm planning to keep using it for a while longer to see if it continues to satisfy my needs. I haven't done much with JavaScript in the past, so I'm interested in looking at the source to learn new things, but It starts as a 51,000+ line file with nothing in it. I'd like the backups to only be the backups of html and not the entire javascript, but that will require some work on my part to understand how the code is curerntly working and to learn how to change it. The original site also mentioned several "plugins" for this application. I'm not sure what a plugin for an html file is, but I will look at them to see how they enhance the existing wiki structure. One of my biggest positives with this is that I can take just my thumb drive with me and be able to keep my notes no matter where I go. All new computers have a USB drive that I can plug into. There are a few places that I go that have old enough computers that they don't have a USB drive, but I'll just have to know that and take my laptop with me to those.

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