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TabbedSinglePageMode for TiddlyWiki

with 6 comments

SinglePageMode” is a typically neat little TiddlyWiki plugin created by Eric Shulman. It restores the more conventional wiki behaviour of having a single page open at once, so that clicking on a link replaces the current page, rather than inserting it below, as TiddlyWiki usually does.

Eric’s plugin has been deservedly highly popular. It seems that for a significant proportion of situations/users, the default TiddlyWiki behaviour of having multiple tiddlers at once is just too complicated. Having a community plugin to ‘fix’ this is a great solution, allowing TiddlyWiki users to choose which behaviour they prefer.

But, from an interface perspective, one of the things I find troubling about the current implementation of SinglePageMode is that it rather takes away the whole point of TiddlyWiki: after all, it started out as an experiment in having multiple wiki pages at once, with a view to making it easier to refactor content between pages. It’s also frustrating to have to have two separate modes of operation, with slightly inconsistent behaviour.

I’ve given quite a lot of thought to how one might somehow unify these two modes, to give the clarity of single page mode without giving up on the ability to quickly flick between multiple open tiddlers. I just came across some sketches buried in an old virtual machine from 2006 that show one approach that still looks like it might be interesting.

When a single tiddler is displayed, it looks much like an ordinary TiddlyWiki screen:

with a single tiddler open

When a tiddler link is clicked on, the new tiddler opens in front of the previous one, building up breadcrumbs as a sort of rolodex of tabs:


Then the idea was that by riffling the mouse over the breadcrumbs you’d get a popup that allowed you flick back and refer to an earlier tiddler:


I’m not sure why I drew the popup at a reduced size, I’m not sure that that’s a good idea. I’d also intended to draw a frame showing a similar popup when hovering over any tiddler link.

I took some care to try to make it possible to implement this design with minimal changes to the TiddlyWiki internal Story object, it should be possible to do most of the work with CSS. I was imagining that there might be an ‘expand’ button over near the breadcrumbs that floops the various tiddlers out to their fully expanded size, looking like an ordinary TiddlyWiki.

Although I never implemented this design, I’ve not stopped thinking about these issues, and am exploring some of them in Project Cecily.

UPDATE: There’s some further discussion on the TiddlyWiki developers group.


Written by jermolene

November 14, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Posted in development, tiddlywiki

6 Responses

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  1. That looks really cool – I’d love to see a proof of concept for that…
    Even so, it still only gives you control over a single tiddler at a time. So instead of having the rolodex as an additional feature on the side, why not integrate it directly into the story?

    FWIW, there are a few different approaches to this, namely Pascal’s TiddlersBarPlugin and Phil’s Pagemap proof of concept.


    November 14, 2008 at 2:25 pm

  2. Jeremy,
    as a newbie to TiddlyWiki I find it often strange that when opening a new Tiddler it’s hard to find _where_ the new Tiddler begins, because it is opend at the bottom of the page instead at the top of the page. Depending on the length of the new tiddler the beginning of the new tiddler will be at different positions (vertical) of the screen. So this will need time to locate the new tiddler.
    I can think of two ideas right now:
    1) Position the new tiddler always at the top of the screen
    2) to be able to see more tiddler a two coloumn layout springs to mind — especially when considering the increasing use of widescreen displays.

    Best regards


    April 19, 2009 at 6:16 pm

  3. Hi Peter – Yes, getting the behaviour right is tricky. I experimented with opening new tiddlers at the top; it kind of makes sense when the link to the tiddler is in a menu or other sidebar, but doesn’t feel right when you’re clicking on a link within an existing tiddler. I’ve more recently been experimenting with multi-columnar displays via Cecily (


    April 19, 2009 at 6:57 pm

  4. Hi Jeremy,
    I tried the ZUI experiment, but struggled to use it (zoom in/out) and to find out how to navigate. Some years ago I tried Photomesa, which I thoght was pretty interesting from the concept. If the software would offer more options (like Adobe Bridge for example) I’d use Photomesa today to view/search my photos. For such an application I find ZUI really great. For text-based docs like a (personal) wiki I’m not sure about it. Interesting concept in any case. For my use of TW I now added TiddlersBarPlugin. This works great for me most of the time. I can switch to the tiddlers I want/need fast or close “others” with a click. Regardless of the tabbed/ZUI or traditional TW-concept adding a back/forward function is useful always IMO.


    April 26, 2009 at 7:12 pm

  5. I really like this idea, because it ties in with one of my own, which I cannot believe is entirely original but I haven’t seen anywhere else.

    TiddlyWiki as an eBook format: maybe call it “TiddlyBook”?

    The idea would be that each chapter existed as a tiddler, and thus clicking through to the next chapter would need to hide the just-read chapter.

    This added wrinkle of being able to keep some other tiddlers visible lends itself to display of footnotes and the like rather nicely.

    I hope 😉


    May 8, 2009 at 3:27 pm

  6. Thanks @NotACat – I think Eric’s single page mode plugin pretty much does what you want (see You might also be interested in our work on TiddlyDocs (, which is also somewhat about presenting long narrative content a chunk at a time…


    May 8, 2009 at 3:35 pm

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