May 13, 2006

Wiki, wiki, wow!

I mentioned yesterday how I was looking for an new note-taker/information manager utility which had keywords. Well, since yesterday was my day off, I decided to devote the full day to my search :)

First, I went through page after page of Google searches and came up with a couple of possibilities – TexNotes Pro and TaoNotes 3D Pro. They both had keyword-based searching of notes but the UI of each app itself turned out to be the problem :p In the case of TexNotes Pro, each note is opened in a new tab and there is no easy way to close tabs quickly. So, given that I go through dozens of notes in a given work day, I’m going to end up with a really cluttered UI pretty soon with TexNotes. I believe TexNotes is meant for somebody who has multiple large notes. Not somebody like me, who has tons of tiny notes :) The issue with TaoNotes was similar – I didn’t like the UI or the way it was laid out. It seemed way too clunky :p

At this point, I had another idea. Keywords was what I had been looking for up till then but what about tags? Tagging has been pretty big lately and there had to be somebody who thought of combining information management and tagging? I found that there were a lot of people who talked about the "concept" (mostly with regards to web 2.0) but there didn’t appear to be any actual desktop apps around (at least ones that I could find via a Google search) that did what I wanted. Then I had another idea – what about a wiki? Or rather, a personal wiki?

This led me to a list of desktop Wiki software at Wikipedia which in turn led to several possible candidates. The most likely looking were Notebook, WikiPad and TiddlyWiki – though I actually found TiddlyWiki elsewhere and later saw it listed in the Wikipedia list under a different section :p Notebook was a straightforward note taking app which behaved like a wiki. WikiPad had an automatic treeview created from the wiki entries but it didn’t have tags and it used non-wiki syntax to format the entries, as did Notebook. So the sole contender left was TiddlyWiki. (Actually, that’s not quite how it went down – I found TiddlyWiki before I found the other two but it reads better this way :p)

Now TiddlyWiki deserves a paragraph to itself because it’s quite the marvel :) First of all, there is no installation. Secondly, it’s just one simple (OK, maybe not quite simple …) HTML file. Yes, that’s all there is to TiddlyWiki! You download the HTML file, load it in your browser and you have a wiki. I really like this solution. There is no complicated installation. No software to lug around. And no proprietary file formats to deal with. All my information is in one HTML file which lets me access the information I want, the way I want! And it supports tagging! What more could you ask for? (I don’t yet know what more I can ask for but for the moment, I’m using TiddlyWiki as my new information storage/management engine …)

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Tags: Software, Technology
Posted by Fahim at 7:15 am   Comments (6)