just a tiddler

Yesterday one of my colleagues asked me about putting a wiki on a standalone pc – he helps run a business on the side and he’s heard me rant about having procedure manuals on a wiki. I was initially thinking how this was all too hard – we’d need to set up an apache/mysql/php (amp) wiki and just no – who’d do it, maintain it, p a y for it, and more. There had to be a better way…someone must’ve solved this already.

After some searching, TiddlyWiki by London-based technologist, Jeremy Ruston of Osmosoft floated up. TiddlyWiki met all of the criteria – free to use, fits on a standalone pc/mac/linux box – in fact anything pretty much from a shoe box with a couple of toilet roll cores on up – and doesn’t need the amp setup to work. Yay for Jeremy.

But I’ve downloaded plenty of free (and worth every penny) software before – exactly how usable is a TiddlyWiki? So far it’s pretty damn fine, actually. I’ve spent about half an hour getting acquainted with the incantations – and already managed to change the stylesheet so my wiki looks more how I want it, and I’ve learned how to add an image, add a link to a document on my harddrive, to a document on the net, and to external web sites. I’ve also managed to sort out bulleting, and formatting. Nice.

In original request was for a wiki to use as an engine for a procedures manual. Wierdly, some would say, I have a strong interest in good manuals – I think born from the frustration at some of the appalling software documentation. If you have no procedures document at present, TiddlyWiki would be helpful as a framework to build on. If you have good documentation then TiddlyWiki would really lift the game no end. Using material from our exisiting work manual I was able to ‘wiki-fy’ the content in moments – and most of the time was spent obsessing about the formating rather than any difficulty with the content.

I’m now planning on using TiddlyWiki to explore business planning – not something than lends itself immediately to a lineal process – the wiki/web concept is more useful in this kind of concept mapping process. I can see me and Tiddles spend quite a lot of time together – from all appearances it might be a tiddler in size, but not in performance. Yay again.

Update: (14 April) TiddlyWiki seems to work just fine for business planning – there’s a learning curve (gentle, not a learning wall) and a very good help service available at tiddlyspot.com.

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