November 5, 2007

Connect Firefox to TiddlyWiki with TiddlySnip

Author: Dmitri Popov

If you're using TiddlyWiki as your note-taking tool, you ought to give TiddlySnip a try. The idea behind this Firefox extension is simple: it allows you to add the currently viewed Web page or selected text snippet to your TiddlyWiki as a new tiddler. But TiddlySnip adds a few clever twists to this basic idea, which turn the Firefox/TiddlyWiki combo into a powerful and extremely useful tool.

TiddlySnip installs as a conventional Firefox extension, but you need to point it to your TiddlyWiki file to make it work. To do this, choose Tools -> TiddlySnip Preferences. In the Preferences dialog window, switch to the General tab and enter the path to the TiddlyWiki file in the File Location field.

The Preferences window contains a few useful settings you might want to specify right from the start: for example, you can define tags for new tiddlers, which will allow you to quickly identify tiddlers created with TiddlySnip in your TiddlyWiki. You can use the Backup option section to enable or disable backups and specify a separate directory for them. Keep in mind, though, that TiddlySnip creates a backup copy every time you add a new tiddler, so you could end up with a lot of backup files. One possible solution is to turn the backup feature off and put the TiddlyWiki file into the Firefox profile folder in your home directory (e.g. /home/user/.mozilla/firefox). You can then use your favorite backup software to back up the entire Firefox profile, including TiddlyWiki.

Under the View TW options tab, you can enable the Open TW after saving option, which opens TiddlyWiki right after a new tiddler has been created. This can be useful if you want to edit the created tiddler, or to make sure that it has been added successfully. When creating a new tiddler with TiddlySnip, you must choose a category. If the default categories in TiddlySnip are not enough for your needs, you can easily add new ones in the Categories section of the Preferences window.

Once installed and configured, TiddlySnip adds three commands to the context menu in Firefox: TiddlySnip Page, TiddlySnip Clipboard, and TiddlySnip Selection. The first two commands are active when you right-click on a page without selecting any text. They allow you to create a new tiddler for the entire page or the contents of the Clipboard. If you select a text fragment in the current Web page, you can use TiddlySnip to create a new tiddler out of the selection. No matter what command you choose, TiddlySnip opens the Preview window, containing the Title, Tags, and Text fields filled out with the relevant information from the page. All the fields are editable, and you can even use TiddlyWiki markup in the Text field. Press the Save button, and TiddlySnip adds the new tiddler to TiddlyWiki.

TiddlySnip also has a feature that can handle identical tiddlers, which can help you to avoid duplicates in your TiddlyWiki. When you try to add a new tiddler with a title that already exists in TiddlyWiki, TiddlySnip offers to either rename the new tiddler, append it to the existing one, or overwrite it.

TiddlySnip also supports the TiddlySpot service, which offers a hosted version of TiddlyWiki. This means that TiddlySnip can create tiddlers in a TiddlyWiki on the Web, which effectively turns the TiddlySnip/TiddlyWiki combo into a powerful Web-based note-taking tool. If you have a TiddlySpot account, enter the link to your hosted TiddlyWiki (for instance, in the File Location field in the Preferences window. This automatically activates the Uploads option tab. Switch to it, enter your TiddlySpot user name and password, and you are ready to go. Now you can use TiddlySnip to save new tiddlers to the remote TiddlyWiki.

TiddlyWiki is a flexible and innovative application by its own, but with the TiddlySnip extenstion, you can extend its functionality even further. If you use TiddlyWiki regularly, TiddlySnip is a must-have addition to your productivity toolbox.

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