Peter Hajas

The Recursive Power of TiddlyWiki

June 2, 2022

I recently learned about TiddlyWiki. It's wiki software that you run on your computer.

There are lots of these "second brain" pieces of software - Notion, Obsidian, vimwiki. But TiddlyWiki has some special tricks up its sleeve that I think put it into a league of its own. There are two components of it that I find so intriguing.

It includes its own viewer and editor

If I were using vimwiki (which I used to, heavily!), I'd store all my files on my computer (like in ~/.vimwiki, which I had symlinked to my NextCloud instance). But I'd need a way to view and edit those files. I used vim and Marked 2. TiddlyWiki is a self-contained HTML file. It has everything in it - the editor, the viewer, a filesystem implementation, but it's all saved to one HTML file. This is very novel - it's the ultimate portability. I can sync one file to copy my entire database, viewing experience and all. I can make copies of to back it up or try new things.

It is built in itself

This TiddlyWiki's superpower. It is a tool that is built inside of itself. Besides a small kernel of core functionality, the rest of the system is represented as "tiddlers" - individual notes / files. The sidebar menu, the story list of tiddlers, the editor toolbar, all of this is represented as Tiddlers. This makes it very easy to add new functionality to these views. For example, I added an Emoji picker and indicator to all my Tiddlers in a few minutes. This can be done with the embedded powerful template language. TiddlyWiki supports key-value storage (called "fields") on tiddlers, enabling you to make your own taxonomy and relationships.

To help you wrap your mind around this concept, here are things that are just tiddlers in TiddlyWiki:

Much of this UI comes from use of tags, which is just another field on a tiddler. This lets you put things into the system easily. If you want a new item in the sidebar, just tag it with $:/tags/SideBarSegment. If you want something new in the view for each tiddler, tag it with $:/tags/ViewTemplate.

I found this software a few days ago, and I've already become enamored with it. I think this site might eventually become a TiddlyWiki.

As they say in their Discover page:

You've never seen anything like TiddlyWiki

I agree - I recommend you go play with it!