A year ago, my good friend Casey Watson suggested that I try using a personal wiki to keep track of my programming knowledge. This turned out to be great advice, so I’ll be sharing how I use one and how to start your own.

Why would a personal wiki make you productive?

In a phrase: to keep a your web of knowledge accessible from one place. You need a place to put your meeting agenda, important project/server links, and even a to-do or waiting-for list. Not only can you store a lot, you can tag it, search it and otherwise customize the crap out of Tiddlywiki.

You are not going to be able to remember everything you need, keeping links and information in email folders just doesn’t cut it. You can easily keep track of your meeting notes, DB schema diagrams, bug lists, blah blah blah…

Roll your own… now!

It’s really stinkin’ easy! Just grab my favorite flavor of Tiddlywiki, d-cubed, and save it somewhere you can access easily. The first time you use it your browser will ask you to confirm that you can edit your HTML file through it (standard security check).

You will probably want to theme it so it fits you, and I found a bunch of nice themes at TiddlyThemes. It’s just CSS and JavaScript anyway, dowhatyouwant! whatyouwant!!

Once you have customized your wiki’s look-and-feel etc., it’s time to grab some slick plugins. Here are a couple I use and recommend:

To install a plugin, just make a new Tiddler (wiki page) with the same title, content, and tags. So easy!

Next steps

I recommend starting by creating tiddlers for all your projects and just putting links to other resources in there. After awhile, copy bits of emails you need to remember to relevant places so you can search it anytime. Baby steps, but stick to it. The setup cost will be returned in cases (as in the beer others will buy you for rocking)!

You’re now well on your way to wiki-fying yourself. Share your experiences and have fun!

Posted on .