Brandon's Notepad

January 12, 2012

TiddlyWiki: My Experience

Filed under: Computer Software,Online Tools,TiddlyWiki — Brandon @ 5:55 pm

Home > My Lists > Technical Notes > TiddlyWiki > TiddlyWiki: My Experience

I have fallen in and out of love with TiddlyWiki several times since August 2006. It started with this ‘blog post by “euicho” written almost exactly one year earlier. I’ve used it successfully for several small projects, though more often than not, what began with a TiddlyWiki blossomed into a ‘blog, a website, or a full-blown application. So, if anything, it’s good for working out a design for what I really want to do. It’s extremely versatile and addictive too! Here are some highlights from my TiddlyWiki experience.

Notepad. Believe it or not, this ‘blog began as a TiddlyWiki…sort of. I wanted to publish my notes on a number of topics on a free “personal” page. Cobbling pages together by hand was too labor-intensive, especially when I wanted to change the look-and-feel of the whole site at one time. I wasn’t learned in CSS at the time and I tried automating the compilation of a site using flat data files, HTML templates, make, and a few other scripting utilities. All of it was taking up way too much time. TiddlyWiki was the answer. For a very good reason (which now escapes me), I decided to use ‘blog technology instead, which has worked out far better in the long run; however, I might not have made that leap without TiddlyWiki in the middle.

School Notes. I finally broke down and bought a laptop while I was in graduate school. This allowed me to take all of my notes electronically, at least for the last couple of years in the program. I really wanted to go paperless, so I relied on scans, downloads, and other methods for keeping it all digital. I even recorded lectures on occasion. TiddlyWiki was my notebook of choice. With a wiki mindset, I would create Tiddlers for topics and then referenced them from Tiddlers containing basic outlines of both textbook chapters and lectures. Doing most of the work before hand allowed me to take minimal notes during class, which meant that I could pay more attention to the professor and participate in the discussion more fully.

Big Finish. The proverbial icing on the cake came in my capstone course. The professor (who happened to be the department chair) believed heavily in the power of organization. A student who keeps an organized and complete notebook will always do well, he would tell us often. As such, we had to turn in our class notebooks to the professor at the end of the semester – for a grade! I hadn’t done that since, oh let’s see, high school! It was degrading, but admittedly, a very wise requirement on his part. I had one little problem. I told him that I could print out the contents of my “notebook”, but with his permission I’d rather turn in a 100%-electonic copy. He agreed, so long as it was easily viewed on his PC with little effort. Everything was linked in the TiddlyWiki. I just burned the CD and wrote the instrucitons on the label: “insert into CD-ROM drive and open notebook.html”. I guess it worked, because I aced the course. He retired the next year.

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