First a brief introduction. If you're not familiar with TiddlyWiki, it's essentially an implementation of a full-featured wiki in a single file. That means you can carry it around on a USB stick or email it with ease. The file contains not only the content you create, but all the tools required to edit and update that content. The exceptions to the one file structure are images and external files, which are treated as external links (more on that in a bit).
Getting a copy of the empty file is easy. Simply visit the download page here or here and save locally. Once you have the file downloaded you can move it around using the standard tools provided by your operating system (i.e. drag and drop or copy commands). The basic unit of information in TiddlyWiki is a tiddler, which corresponds to an article in standard wiki-speak. Each tiddler is referenced by a name either written as a WikiWord, or, if you like spaces in your titles, [[Surrounded by Double Square Brackets]]. My personal preference is to use spaces and double square brackets, but either method works.
If you're going to make use of TiddlyWiki, it's probably worth bookmarking the TiddlyWiki wiki site. There's a ton of useful information there. Here's the link: http://tiddlywiki.org/wiki/Main_Page
Now that you have TiddlyWiki in hand, let's do something with it.
- Create a new folder somewhere in your documents tree, and copy the TiddlyWiki file there. A separate folder isn't necessary, but it'll help keep linked images organized (remember they're not part of the base file).
- Open the TiddlyWiki file with your web browser. This is probably as simple as double-clicking it, but you may have to use the File/Open menu in your browser. You should see something like the image here.
- Across the top is the backstage bar, tools to deal with plugins and imports. We'll ignore that for now.
- Below the backstage bar is the title area, defined by two editable tiddlers that allow you to set the name of your wiki.
- On the left is the MainMenu, an editable sidebar which you can modify to suit your needs.
- In the center is the main content area. Tiddlers you create/open show up here. Each tiddler has the following features arranged around it:
- Top right - the tiddler interaction links. These allow you to edit, close or check references on the current tiddler.
- Right side - the tags box will show any tags that apply to this tiddler. More on tags later.
- Top left - the tiddler title.
- On the right is the sidebar, providing access to basic editing and navigation features.
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Let's do a bit of customization to make this TiddlyWiki ours. Once you're familiar with how things work you can set up a default TiddlyWiki with most of this stuff already done to save time. The default TiddlyWiki configuration automatically opens a tiddler called GettingStarted, and it's a good place to begin. You'll see several links in this tiddler. Note that they're in italics, indicating the content they link to isn't yet defined. These happen to be special shadow tiddlers, meaning the system has a default tiddler it uses if they're not yet defined. Let's change a few things.
Repeat this process for the SiteSubTitle. I'll use [[RPG dumping ground|http://rpgdump.blogspot.com/]] which is a fancy way of applying a name to a link (more on that later).
Click on the MainMenu link and edit. I'm going to set this up to provide a link to itself, to my content, and label the sections with a couple headers. Here's what I'm going to type (includes some basic markup for headers):
!! Content [[Introduction]] [[The Village]] [[The Dungeon]] !! Tools [[GettingStarted]] [[MainMenu]]
Once you're happy with your edits, hit done in the tiddler interaction links. Note how the left menu has updated. You can click on any of these links to open the associated tiddlers (note that most of them are empty, ready for you to add content).
Click on the DefaultTiddlers link and edit. This tiddler contains a list of tiddlers that are automatically opened when you first open the TiddlyWiki file. The default content is GettingStarted, but I'm going to change this to read:
Last step: Fill in your user name in the box at the bottom of the GettingStarted tiddler. It doesn't really matter if you're the only person writing in this wiki, but it does let you track changes if multiple people use it.
Before I close let me run down the sidebar options quickly. That will let me focus on content next time. Most of these are pretty straightforward, but can be confusing if you're not used to wikis. From the top:
- Search - This is a simple search box that will find any text you type and automatically open the tiddlers that contain it. Note that searching on something like ''the'' in a big TiddlyWiki can take some time.
- Close All - Closes all currently open tiddlers. Basically cleanup the display. Tiddlers stay open until you close them so it's possible to have quite a few open.
- Permaview - Updates your browser URL window with a link to the currently active tiddler.
- New Tiddler - Opens a fresh tiddler in edit mode, ready for input. You can also create new tiddlers by clicking on any link that names a non-existent tiddler.
- New Journal - Journals are special tiddlers labeled with the current date and time. Useful if you're writing a diary or session log.
- Save Changes - Saves the entire TiddlyWiki.
- Options - Provides access to additional configuration options, including auto-save, backups, and search controls. There's also a link here to AdvancedOptions, which allows you to tweak even more stuff.
This section of the sidebar changes dynamically as you add tiddlers to your TiddlyWiki. Here's what the tabs contain:
- Timeline - A tiddler listing organized by last edit time, newest first. Handy for finding what you just changed.
- All - An alphabetic listing of every tiddler.
- Tags - An alphabetic listing of every tag.
- More - Several tiddler lists that might need attention:
- Missing - Tiddlers that are linked to, but don't exist.
- Orphans - Tiddlers that exist but aren't linked to.
- Shadowed - Tiddlers that have default system values, generally built-in to TiddlyWiki.
OK, that should do it for today. At this point you should have a ready to use TiddlyWiki configured for your own project. In the next article I'll write about:
- Basic markup - How to do headers, formatted text, lists and links.
- Tags - How to organize tiddlers with the built in tag system.
- Transclusion - A handy way to include one tiddler within another.
- Organization - Some thoughts on organizing your notes.
Here's a link to part two.