Wiki on your thumb

Yesterday I began getting irritated with my Instiki install on my PC at home. Don’t get me wrong, I like Instiki itself, but having to start it from the command line was getting annoying and I haven’t yet had time to figure out how to set it up as a Windows service. Add to that the fact that I want to have access to my Wiki from other computers and yet not open up my home network to the world, and you’ll see the dilemma I was facing.

The ideal thing for me would be to store my Wiki on my USB thumb drive. Instiki’s data files could theoretically be stored there I suppose, but where would that leave me if I wanted to update my Wiki on a different computer which didn’t have Instiki installed? My thumb drive is too small to host a copy of Ruby/Rails on it. In desperation, I ran a Google search for “wiki on usb drive” and, behold, TiddlyWiki appeared.

TiddlyWiki is an experimental “micro-content” Wiki designed by Jeremy Ruston. It’s written in HTML, CSS, JavaScript… and that’s it. No web server whatsoever is required to run this thing. It’s basically a self-updating HTML file. Clever! And useful. I can store the HTML page on my thumb drive and access it from any computer with a reasonably up-to-date browser. Theoretically, I could even go a step further and embed the Firefox browser itself on my thumb drive, complete with a custom profile and bookmarks.

I highly recommend you check out TiddlyWiki if only for the novelty. The install is dead-easy (just save a file to disk) and I found the non-linear navigation structure based on “tiddles” (small chunks of information) to be quite logical. I haven’t seen something this cool since I was first exposed to AJAX!