Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Have You Tiddled Your Wiki Today?

I've mentioned creating your own Wiki several times in the past and wonder how many of you are actually using one. I love my various Wiki's and use them constantly. I've found that I use my TiddlyWiki the most. It is simple to use and doesn't take any special programming or coding knowledge. If you use any coding in your Word documents, you can use a wiki.

My Wiki's contain my 'cheat sheets' among other things. The 'cheat sheets' are lists of instructions that I don't want to memorize, but need to reference frequently. One example is instructions on how to record information for source types that I don't use very often. Another example is a list of links to family history resource pages that are only used on occasion but that I want at my fingertips, neatly organized and searchable. You know the resource links that I'm talking about. They are in these posts frequently.

TiddlyWiki lets you add a new Tiddler (entry) with one click. How hard is that? Additionally, you may also want to add a journal entry. It is just as easy to create as a wiki entry. Just click on 'New Journal' and there you are, a blank formatted page already dated and attributed to you.

You can link all journal and wiki entries by just referencing their titles in the tag field at the bottom of the entries. My entries / articles are all interlinked by subject and the 'thread' (topic, conversation, etc.) is easy to follow throughout all of them.

Additionally, you can do a keyword search for any specific word or words of interest. As an example, I tried to remember how many times I've written about using acid-free paper and sheet protectors and ran a search. One second later all of my entries containing 'acid-free' were listed on my screen and the words 'acid-free' were highlighted in all of them.

I also use my TiddlyWiki for research notes. When I create research notes in my Legacy database, I copy them and make an entry in my wiki. In Legacy, the notes are tied to a specific individual, event or place and I typically look them up that way. In my wiki, I can search them by topic, location, year, names, etc., covering all the entries at once.

How easy is it to install TiddlyWiki? It is simple. Just click on the "download software" on the left side of the page and then right click on the link "this link to empty html" and save it to your desktop or to a folder on your hard drive. If you saved it to a folder, make a shortcut to your desktop and/or to your Start menu.

TiddlyWiki is really just a big long web page. There are many links on the TiddlyWiki page to help 'beginners' and 'experts' alike.

After you save the TiddlyWiki page and start using it, remember to hit 'save' after each of your entries and to 'BACK IT UP' often. You'll quickly find that your wiki will become an 'enhanced' extension of your memory and you know how it feels to loose your memory, so back it up - often.

I'm frequently asked how often to back up your family history records or by extension, your wiki. I back mine up daily using Mozy. When you make your back up timing decision, you'll have to determine your threshold of pain. Once you've lost your files because you didn't back them up, you'll know how far you've crossed the threshold.

Download the wiki code and a it a try. Tiddle your Wiki today.