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Presenting TiddlyWiki to the W3C

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Today, my colleague Paul Downey has made an impressive contribution to Osmosoft’s mission to explain by preparing a paper about TiddlyWiki for submission to the W3C Workshop on Security for Access to Device APIs from the Web. It gives an overview of TiddlyWiki for technical audiences that already know and understand the mainstream web and its underlying technologies.

Paul’s paper can be found here:

I’m loving it in lots of different ways. It’s a really solid example of what I call a “manifesto-style TiddlyWiki”, a tightly knit mesh of content that together communicates a system of belief. I like his tone, too, nicely sober and authoritative.


The challenge that Paul has taken on isn’t to be under-estimated. I’ve had the chance to talk about TiddlyWiki to many different audiences around the world, but the most unexpected reaction I encounter is from people in that same, technical audience and it is, bizarrely, outright disbelief. Picking it up in the middle of a demo, the conversation goes something like this:

Jeremy at OpenTech

Jeremy: Here I am clicking the ‘save changes’ button, and now watch as I refresh the page in the browser, and you can see that the changes that I made have been persisted to disc

Expert: Right, that’s very interesting. What serverside technology are you using? I bet it’s Java, isn’t it?

Jeremy: No, actually, as I said at the beginning, TiddlyWiki is a standalone HTML file, with the application logic written in JavaScript

Expert: Ah, I see, so you’re using something like Rhino to run the JavaScript on the server?

Jeremy: No, not at all. TiddlyWiki runs entirely on the client browser, and takes advantage of special privileges accorded to HTML files loaded from “file://” URIs to be able to save itself directly to disc

Expert: That’s neat. So do you use Google Gears to handle going offline?

Jeremy: Sigh, no, not quite.

And so it goes, on and on. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s happened too many times or me to avoid thinking about it. It’s seems that the idea of a standalone HTML file is sufficiently far away from many people’s experience of the web for it to be invisible to them.

The frustration for me is because it feels as though TiddlyWiki has something important to say about the different things that happen if you let people hack the web without needing server infrastructure. My experience is that you can foster some intense innovation by radically lowering the barriers to the Copy/Modify/Share cycle that is at the heart of community innovation.


Written by jermolene

November 18, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Decaffeinating the Tea in Hamburg

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The organisers have posted the video from the talk that I gave at the Next08 conference in Hamburg earlier this month. It doesn’t seem to be possible to link directly to the video; you’ll need to scroll down until you find “Jeremy Ruston”:

I was a bit more nervous than usual because I was standing in at short-ish notice for my boss. I added some laconicity, but the material is essentially his, as you can see in this video of JP giving the talk last December at LeWeb 3 in Paris. Osmosoft helped out with the slides, using RippleRap and TiddlyWiki to maintain my strict PowerPoint quarantine.

Happily at least one person liked it.

Written by jermolene

May 28, 2008 at 9:01 am

TiddlyWiki at OpenTech 2008

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Along with several of my Osmonaught colleagues, I will be attending OpenTech 2008 in London on Saturday July 5th 2008. It’s a very low cost event (£5 to get in!), and is focussed nicely on the hacker community. I went to the last one in 2005 and had a great time.

This time, I’m giving a talk entitled “TiddlyWiki Tales” which will be a round-up the latest TW developments, both from Osmosoft and the wider community. Later on in the day, my colleague Paul Downey is talking about “The Web as Agreement“.

We’re also holding a competition with a TiddlyWiki flavour and some interesting prizes:

The TiddlyWiki OpenTech competition gives you the chance to win a BUG (plus four modules)! The BUG base station and modules use open source software and snap together to create whatever device you want. There’s also a great second prize of a GP2X Linux powered handheld games console. A stack of O’Reilly books will be the third prize.

For your chance to win one of these great prizes, all you have to do is show us your TiddlyWiki skills. TiddlyWiki is written entirely in javascript, and has a great plugin architecture, so just like the BUG you can twist it to do whatever you want. It can pull in RSS feeds, and because it can be a local file (and you don’t have to worry about same domain policies), it’s great for mashups. There are already 400+ plugins you can use, but don’t let that stop you from writing your own new ones!

(See the Osmosoft site for full details).



Written by jermolene

May 13, 2008 at 3:59 pm


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So, Google have finally stopped hinting and gone and launched Gears:

Google Gears (BETA) is an open source browser extension that enables web applications to provide offline functionality using following JavaScript APIs:

  • Store and serve application resources locally
  • Store data locally in a fully-searchable relational database
  • Run asynchronous Javascript to improve application responsiveness

Which is marvellous stuff. Several people have pointed out that the requirement for a client side installation will slow down adoption. I’m not so sure; for quite a few people, the ability to work offline is plenty valuable enough to prompt them to install. And don’t underestimate the lengths that Google will go to to try to get their Google Pack on as many PCs as possible.

I’d very much like to experiment with using Gears as backend for TiddlyWiki; one thing I’m particularly curious about is whether offline applications are tied to the browser on which they were last used online.

Written by jermolene

June 1, 2007 at 8:37 am

Posted in development, tiddlywiki, web

MiniWeb Rocks Hierarchically

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I’m late with this, but Dean Edwards: MiniWeb

MiniWeb models an entire web site in a single HTML page. All of the site files are stored in a JSON object which you can navigate with a UNIX-like shell or the system browser. It has a built-in templating system and has an approximate separation of client and server. It is in its infancy but is still kind of fun to play with. Parts of it are clearly unfinished but you will be able to get the idea.

This is rather glorious. Similar to TiddlyWiki, it’s an entire website in a single HTML page, but it takes a very different approach, packing a more or less conventional Unix file structure. Naturally I love anything that subverts the mainframe-isation of the web…

Written by jermolene

May 4, 2007 at 2:28 pm

Posted in development, web

Microsoft Silverlight: Light Up the Web with DRM?

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I was kind of surprised and pleased to read that Silverlight is being launched on both Windows and OS X; it seemed like an excessively generous olive branch to the MacBook Pro-toting webdev cadre. Because in every other field Microsoft is happy to blithely presume that Mac users are a rounding error on their Windows-led cash cows.

And Silverlight does look well thought through. The video performance looks terrific, and the fact that it installs on IE without even requiring the browser to be restarted is undeniably attractive.

Cramming in an implementation of the .NET CLR is genius and yet defiantly 1996-era Microsoft; if you remember that far back, the first rollout of ActiveX controls in Internet Explorer 4 and Visual Basic 5 offered very similar functionality in terms of building rich applications within the browser. It was excellent fun building demos with that stuff, and I’m sure it’ll be even more thrilling with the benefit of Silverlight’s several orders of magnitude increased complexity.

But the brightest bit of Silverlight is still the video delivery, and I think it’s what will drive the adoption of the plugin. I’m wondering if Silverlight supports DRM; if so, perhaps it’s a way for the BBC’s iPlayer to make the leap to OS X quicker than we might otherwise expect.

Oh, and I wonder if Silverlight will work on the iPhone, too.

Written by jermolene

May 1, 2007 at 11:53 pm

Posted in development, web

Why REST when you can Astoria?

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This is nice, potentially very nice indeed:

ADO.NET team blog : Project Codename “Astoria” – Announced at Mix 07

The goal of Microsoft Codename “Astoria” is to enable applications to expose data as a data service that can be consumed by web clients within a corporate network and across the internet. The data service is reachable over HTTP, and URIs are used to identify the various pieces of information available through the service. Interactions with the data service happens in terms of HTTP verbs such as GET, POST, PUT and DELETE, and the data exchanged in those interactions is represented in simple formats such as XML and JSON.

What I don’t get is why they don’t just say:

The goal of Microsoft “Astoria” is to expose ADO.NET data sources via a RESTful interface.

Anyhow, assuming that interpretation is correct, Astoria will make a nice bridge between TiddlyWiki, with it’s REST-friendly server adaptor architecture, and all that corporate data locked up in Microsoft Access and Microsoft SQL Server. More power to our corporate/public mashup elbows.

Written by jermolene

May 1, 2007 at 10:51 pm

Posted in development, web