A plain text wiki for TextMate

by Giles Turnbull

Matt Webb, the thinking man’s geek (or perhaps the geek’s thinking man), has come up with something special.

Not special like one of his hugely entertaining and thought-provoking talks, nor special like his astonishing ideas for technology, chunks of short fiction, or early web projects exploring the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. No. More special than those.

Matt’s latest idea is to create a plain text wiki bundle for TextMate. Once installed, it allows you to specify a new, empty directory and to fill it with plain .txt files. Any JoinedUpWords you create in those files become clickable links to new files - an instant hypertext, with the emphasis on text.

Why did Matt do this? Because he likes the wiki way of thinking and is a fan of VoodooPad, but prefers to keep his data in a non-proprietary format:

I’ve had computers long enough to know that I want my data in a format used by many, many applications over many, many years. So I use VoodooPad for arranging and notes I don’t need to keep, and make sure my final presentation notes also exist as text files.

I think that’s a sentiment that a lot of experienced computer users will share. (No criticism of VoodooPad intended, by the way - it's a widely admired application and deservedly so. I'm sure Matt Webb feels the same way about it.)

So far his bundle is very light on features, but it does the bare minimum you would want or expect. It’s text, and it’s hyperlinked. Fantastic.


Aristotle Pagaltzis
2007-05-21 04:56:32

FWIW, the same concept is implemented in Vim by the Viki and potwiki scripts. Emacs has the emacs-wiki mode.

It is indeed a great idea.

2007-05-21 07:26:54
How does this differ from the Experimental Wiki that Alan wrote?
Jim Menard
2007-05-21 11:24:06
I've been doing this with Emacs for years, using EmacsWikiMode (which has been abandoned, but I have kept a copy). My work and private Wikis are checked in to source code control at work and home, respectively.

Like Matt, I want my personal information in a non-proprietary format. I've been an Emacs user for over 25 years, and I ain't stopping now.

Here's a hint: set up EmacsWikiMode so that files ending in "Secure" are encrypted. That way, you can store passwords and other sensitive information safely.

Jacob Rus
2007-05-21 16:52:12
He apparently didn't take a look at the "Experimental Wiki" bundle that's been in TM's SVN repository for quite a while now. Admittedly, I've meaning to make some big changes to that bundle for quite a while now, and never got around to it. :)
Matt Webb
2007-05-21 23:55:10
Thanks Giles!

I did have a look at Experimental Wiki. As far as I can tell, it gives you one wiki per machine, in the bundle support folder, and you use a separate HTML view to browse. I wanted something where I could browse in the same view as editing, where any of my text documents could use wiki links. It's not as easy to get running and play with though.

EmacsWikiMode looks exciting. I'll have to check that out.

Matt Webb
2007-05-22 00:01:33
(Oh, by "it" in my previous comment: I mean the Plain Text Edit isn't as easy to get going and use as the Experimental Wiki. Darn ambiguities.)
Bob Smith
2007-05-22 14:53:37
But VooDoo Pad documents are bundles, and inside it looks like the data is in an RTF-like format. So, I question the assumption that you're "locked in" with Voodoo Pad.
2007-05-23 19:20:49
I did something like this for myself. I found it useful to add a small script for the completion mode which just looks at existing WikiNames, and another to do a html preview of the page (extremely basic formatting, using regexps) for a nicer print out.

A reverse lookup would be pretty simple to implement as well, just grep for the current file's wikiname in the wiki directory, and do a html preview of the wikinames that get returned-- using textmates txmt:// url format so that clicking on the link opens it up in textmate.

2007-05-28 11:41:13
filenames can contain spaces.
why require camelcase at all?


p.s. as gus has pointed out,
voodoopad supports plain-text.

2007-06-08 12:54:31
Re: Jim Menard's post on EmacsWikiMode, there's also org-mode for emacs which allows you to easily link between files in a wiki style (and do incredibly much more, of course ;D )