Wiki tools, Vivtek style
2008-05-31 wiki perl

So a week or two ago I suddenly was seized by the desire to Wiki-ize my venerable old site. I know, I know. There are pages here I hand-coded in 1996. There's stuff I tweaked into magnetic core memory using tweezers and a small rare-earth magnet in 1948. And we felt lucky to have that cardboard box!

But, well, I love vi. But lately, I've been feeling the need to stray from my first love, and the ability to whack content into a simple form, click a button, and have it published with no further ado, with all the sidebars and stuff in place, well, I needed that.

So I did it. And as everything else in my life, I did it with an idiosyncratic blend of Perl for the guts and AOLserver Tcl for the Web presentation and input parsing. Eventually I will present the code. But in the meantime, I'll note two things. First: it works, and works well, and works extremely efficiently, because Wiki pages are published once when changed, and are then available as flat HTML files when requested. Contrast this with MediaWiki, which hangs interminably on the database every damned time it generates the sidebar menu. Bad design, if you ask me (but of course, nobody did.)

Secondly: it integrates the beginnings of a pretty efficient data management tool. I'm using it for to-do lists right now, but I'm looking at various other applications as well. And it will probably feed right back into workflow, if all goes well. The most exciting thing about this aspect of the system is that organized data can be anchored and commented upon in the Wiki system. I'll be putting this to much more extensive use in the analysis of spam over at, but even in the context of my to-do list management it's proving a powerful tool for data organization.

Other extensions I hope to explore are a CodeWiki (which will allow the literate commentating of program code and other textual resources), a document management tool for the management of binary objects like images, and, more immediately, the replacement of this blog tool with Wiki-based code to do the same thing.

This last month has been quite productive in terms of the code I use in my everyday life, and the Wiki tool has been a big part of that. So I hope this burst of momentum continues.

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