JLiki 4: MainMenu, TiddlyWiki Formatting

Put the paint brushes and drop cloths away. The ancestors are coming for dinner. If you’ve finished setting the stage in JLiki 3, it’s time to start adding content.

Wikis are non-linear, just like our lives and the lives of our ancestors.  Using this simple document it’s possible to write and present history in the chaotic way it happened and have it make better sense than it does when we’re repeating ourselves in linear reports or searching through a PDF trying to remember how a segment on page 5 links to another segment on page 247. 

If you can imagine a large ball of interconnecting loops, that’s what we’ll be creating instead. We’ll still be fitting in our regular reports and other things we’re used to, but in a way that more closely resembles the tradition of good story-telling.  Twists and turns and flying trapeze-artists.

A wiki can be anything, so I’m just going to present one possibility as an example. This may be enough to keep you going for years. Or you may catch the general drift and come up with a better plan. I have several different lines of ancestors who were involved in the American Revolution so that by itself would make a great wiki (someday).

So, to start with, let’s try this. Go to GettingStarted again and click on MainMenu. Depending what your default font is, you might want to make your menu font bigger or smaller so you can start with @@font-size: x%; and then at the bottom of your list put a closing @@.

To make it simpler, just copy and paste this: (delete GettingStarted, you don’t need it anymore)

@@font-size: 100%;

and then decide if you need to alter the 100%. If not, you can delete the @@font-size: 100%; @@ part. And click ‘done’.

If you click on Intro in your index, that will start a new tiddler called Intro and this is your space to talk about yourself. Who you are and why you’re making this wiki and your hopes for the future of the human race and all that. Just a nice hello to whoever might read this later. You don’t have to call it Intro, you can call it whatever you like. If you don’t feel like doing that right now, you can come back to it anytime. All missing tiddlers are waiting for you in the right-side column under More/Missing.

On lines below “2nd” put the names of your parents like this:

*[[Mother's name]]
*[[Father's name]]

The “” around the generation numbers make them bold. The * makes a bullet point. The double-square brackets around a word or phrase makes it into a WikiWord, which means it automatically creates a tiddler title. A WikiWord is any word with two capital letters in it and doesn’t require double-square brackets.

Here’s a printable page of some basic TiddlyWiki formatting that you can use for reference until it becomes second nature.

Put your 4 grandparents under “3rd” in the same way, and your 8 great-grandparents under “4th”. If you don’t know who some of them are you can leave them out.

I have a situation, as many people probably do, of repeating names across the generations. You can’t have tiddlers with the same name so I would suggest using common names or nicknames where this is an issue if there’s a way to do that. Otherwise, you may have to put a date or other number to distinguish them. My paternal-grandfather is one of five in close proximity with the same name but he was called Gene so that’s easy. In writing tiddler content I can call him by his formal name or nickname, it doesn’t matter, but the tiddler titles have to be different.

The bullet points are optional, of course. I put mine next to the generation numbers instead so the names don’t take up so much space and fit on a single line and I put the font at 90% to provide some contrast with the main text.

Main Menu, TiddlyWiki
What you can also do there on the first line is add in a font-type and color. Something like this:

@@font-family: sylfaen;color: #FFDB6F;font-size: 115%;

to get this result:

Main Menu, TiddlyWiki

The font color of WikiWords is already defined so that’s why the font-color definition here only affects the generation numbers.

Note: pay attention to the placement of the semi-colons when you’re adding code. If you leave an extra space anywhere except after the last semi-colon in the string of directives it won’t translate properly.

Now, you’ve got some people to talk about. Not every tiddler you’ll make has to be in the MainMenu. If it were so it could be unwieldy to navigate. All tiddlers go to the box on the right under Timeline and various other categories. Having only the direct lines in the MainMenu gives a central focus and what closer family readers would immediately identify with best. Aunts, uncles and cousins are all still part of the story, of course.

If you close all your open tiddlers, you’ll have a MainMenu, a right-side menu and a big blank space in the middle. Every writer’s nightmare.


You’ll notice that when you open your wiki, it always begins with GettingStarted. This is what’s called DefaultTiddlers. Default tiddlers are what you choose to have open when you open your wiki. It can be one, several or none. If you click on DefaultTiddlers, you’ll see that GettingStarted is listed as the contents. You can open this tiddler and delete GettingStarted and put [[Intro]] there instead, (you know, the Intro you’re going to write someday) or just leave it blank for now.

Next: JLiki 5

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