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TiddlyWiki resurgent

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Posted by MadaboutDana
Oct 13, 2017 at 08:17 AM

 

I’ve just installed TiddlyWiki 5 and I’m loving it! I was looking for something to take down lots of fragments of thoughts, ideas, drafts etc. for a book I’m thinking of writing, and had been experimenting with all kinds of relatively unsatisfactory things - Scrivener, Ulysses, Outlinely, Bear, Gingko, Workflowy, OmniOutliner etc. etc. What I wanted was something that would allow me to produce something along the lines of index cards (yes, I know there are loads of those around, too), but very flexible, so you can close cards, open new ones, fold them (yes, the new TiddlyWiki allows you to keep notes onscreen but fold them down to the title), link them, and manage them.

I had totally forgotten TiddlyWiki until I stumbled across it following an irritating session with Gingko (don’t get me wrong, I think Gingko is AMAZING! and will undoubtedly be investing in the desktop version once that appears - in its current beta form, however, it’s far from finished). The new version 5 (dating from June 2016, I believe) is astonishing. Within a couple of hours I had a structure I liked (full hierarchical, folding table of hierarchical based on tags, various shortcut cards to key sections in that table of contents etc. etc. Sad and obsessive? Guilty as charged!) I had forgotten just how immensely customisable TiddlyWiki is; the new version has many much-improved macros, plugins and system-level elements that work amazingly well.

As you probably all know, TiddlyWiki is effectively a single web page, with all the goodness built into it. While this makes it incredibly efficient and portable, it also makes it a bit of a pain to use, in the sense that saving directly to the file from a browser is a little complicated. Unless you use Firefox + TiddlyFox, that is: TiddlyFox is an extension that allows you to enable precisely that functionality, so that rather than downloading the file from the browser every time you change it (which is what happens in Safari, Chrome, etc. etc.), it actually saves the changed file directly to disk.

On iOS, things are much pleasanter. Here you will find the gorgeous Quine, a brand new app (but with a good pedigree) that acts as a container for TiddlyWiki and links you up to Dropbox or iCloud, as you prefer (note that the behaviour in each case is slightly different; iCloud syncs automatically, Dropbox has to be instructed). Once you’ve got these things set up, using TiddlyWiki becomes simplicity itself.

TiddlyWiki could/should be described as an outliner, really - it has all the necessary functionality, including folding, tags, search function and so on. I thoroughly recommend! The latest version can be found at http://www.tiddlywiki.com

Cheers,
Bill

 


Posted by Paul Korm
Oct 13, 2017 at 11:27 AM

 

Thanks for the tips Bill.  I think I’m misunderstanding a few things.  The new tiddlers added to a document are not saved in the document but you have to periodically export a new instance of the document in order to save the work?  Is that the case—seems odd.

Quine is a bit of a mess.  I gave it a try and deleted it.  The Dropbox app is actually a better choice on iOS I think.

 


Posted by MadaboutDana
Oct 13, 2017 at 03:03 PM

 

Ah, before appreciating the amazing Quine, you’ve got to appreciate TiddlyWiki.

TiddlyWiki is just a single HTML file. As you save “tiddlers” (notes), they are saved directly into the HTML file itself, so you only ever have one single file. That is the true beauty of TiddlyWiki - no separate notes, no complex of files, just a single, ever-growing HTML file. All the programming that makes it so powerful is built into that single file. And all the notes you take are also saved into that single file.

The problem is, most browsers won’t save edited HTML files directly to disk, for a variety of security-related reasons (well, they will, but only when saving web pages; this is a file loaded from disk, remember, not a web page from a server). The way around that is to use Tiddlyfox, which allows FireFox to save files (like the single TiddlyWiki file) to disk without any problems (a little notice appears to let you know your file has been saved).

Quine on iOS performs the same magic, i.e. allows you to save an edited HTML file to disk, which you can’t do from Safari. Now, I’m having difficulty making it work with iCloud (it creates an iCloud folder on my iOS devices, but the latter doesn’t seem to sync with my various Macs, or even with iCloud online. Probably an early version glitch). But it works very well with Dropbox, which means you also benefit from Dropbox’s versioning and backups (always a good thing when you’re taking notes in a single file). Quine’s sole function is to act as a container for TiddlyWiki. Once it’s created an \Apps\Quine folder in Dropbox, you can put any number of TiddlyWiki files in there and sync them with your iOS devices. I only use a single file at the moment, but that may change.

The only downside of syncing TiddlyWiki using Dropbox (via Quine) is that you have to explicitly sync the file one way and the other. So it’s important to remember which machine you were last using to edit your TiddlyWiki file! Quine helps you, by telling you that a particular file either needs to be uploaded (to Dropbox) or downloaded (from Dropbox), so it’s clearly keeping track of updates, but it sometimes takes it a few seconds to “register” which version of TiddlyWiki (local or remote) is the most up-to-date one.

But experiment with TiddlyWiki first, before playing with Quine. Only once you’ve discovered the true glory of TiddlyWiki will you find you want it with you everywhere…

The Quine share extension also allows you to save images and other files to your TiddlyWiki, in which case I assume it probably creates a subfolder (this is a good way of using external resources with TiddlyWiki).

There are versions of TiddlyWiki that work from servers; the tiddlywiki.com website has plenty of interesting links to hacks people have come up with. But I love the ultra-simple single file concept.

All the best,
Bill

 


Posted by Paul Korm
Oct 13, 2017 at 05:45 PM

 

I’ve been using TiddlyWiki for years—so I know all about its “wonders”—but had abandoned it because of the saving issue.  V5 does nothing to fix it the problem I suppose.  I get the point about Firefox, but I don’t use Firefox.

The problem with Quine is you have to uninstall it and reinstall it to change clouds.  Soon as I have to use a hammer like that, I never bother to reinstall.

I’d like to have a good desktop wiki.  So after playing with TiddlyWiki 5, I took my bi-annual nostalgia trip over to Plausible Labs to check whether VoodooPad v6 is anywhere near reality—four years after they bought the app and then let it die. (Why would anyone do that?)  PL doesn’t even bother anymore to post their fantasies about “v6 is just a month away”—at least nothing in the past 12 months.  Good news is that VoodooPad 5 ticks away on High Sierra, so it still has good bones.

 


Posted by MadaboutDana
Oct 17, 2017 at 07:55 AM

 

Hm, odd about your Quine issues: I’ve happily swapped between Dropbox and iCloud without any problems.

But it’s still an early version!

 


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