WikiPad 1.0 is a free, lightweight, hyperlinked notepad application that is very usable. It is ideal for organizing groups of inter-related notes, but has one curious limitation.
WikiPad is a simple note taking application, similar to Memos or Memopad, but uses ‘WikiWord’ syntax to define links between pages. Much like a Web site, you can navigate from page to page by clicking on underlined hyperlinks. This means that you are not limited to a tree-structure to organize your information, as you would be in an outliner, but can have arbitrarily complex nets of pages.
Installing WikiPad is easy, it takes 40 Kbytes of RAM on the Palm and there is no associated PC application or conduit. When you start WikiPad for the first time it contains six pages that provide all the documentation for the application.
WikiPad 1.0 Default Pages
It starts in the HomePage which contains links to the other default pages:
WikiPad 1.0 HomePage
Hyperlinks to other pages are underlined with a solid line if the target page already exists and with a dotted underline if it is yet to be created. Tapping on the link with the stylus takes you to the linked pages, creating it if necessary.
PalmOS Wiki applications based on the Memopad database tend to use the first line of the page as the title. However, WikiPad uses its own database and so it can store the title separately from the page content, this makes the page display a little neater.
Along the bottom of the screen are four buttons.
- [Home] takes you back to the HomePage
- [Goto] allows you to select a page from the list of all pages
- [Today] links to a page named with today’s date
- [Edit] edits the current page
Since the HomePage is only ever one click away it’s the natural place to link your pages from. I’ve added links to the major sections of my notes, but kept the content of the original HomePage in place for reference. However there is no reason why you shouldn’t replace the HomePage entirely.
Links to major groups of notes
To edit a page just hit the [Edit] button. Only basic editing facilities are provided - there are no menus in the edit screen at all, just [Save] and [Cancel] buttons. However WikiPad uses the standard PalmOS text edit control and so can make use of editor enhancements like PaulComputing’s pEditTool, which gives comprehensive editing facilities.
Using pEditTool in WikiPad
WikiPad only supports one piece of Wiki syntax, the use of ‘WikiWords’ to indicate links to other pages. A WikiWord is a single word that contains a mixture of lowercase letters and more than one uppercase letter. When you save the page WikiPad displays each WikiWord as a link to a page with that name.
One minor annoyance is that when you hit [Edit] WikiPad doesn’t give focus to the text. So you have to click on the text to position the cursor. In other applications, such as Memos it is normal for the cursor to be initially positioned at the end of text so you can start appending deathless prose immediately.
Words that contain digits and hyphens are also treated as WikiWords, as shown in this screenshot:
WikiWords used as Hyperlinks
Note how WikiPad treats accented characters as ending WikiWords. In some languages this will prove very inconvenient.
By the way don’t try creating a link from a WikiWord longer than will fit on one screen line. WikiPad won’t break but it does get confused over whether to highlight the link with a solid or dotted underline.
Clicking the [Goto] button lists all the WikiPad pages. Selecting a page and hitting [Go] takes you to that page.
WikiPad 1.0 Goto Page
The [Today] button is really useful. It switches to a page named with the current date in the format YYYY-MM-DD, for example 2005-02-14. This makes creating daily journals in WikiPad very easy.
Using [Today] for a Daily Journal
Each WikiPad page can hold up to 32 Kbytes of text and WikiPad handles very large pages without any problems. Editing and saving are fast and it takes just under 2 seconds to display a 32 Kbyte page on a Tungsten E, small pages are displayed instantaneously.
I created at 32 Kbyte page that was purely WikiWord links to other pages. When I tried to save and display it WikiPad suffered a Fatal Exception and the Tungsten E needed a soft reset. Subsequent attempts to go back into WikiPad had the same result. Eventually I had to delete WikiPad’s database (WikiDb-PtWk) in order to get back into the application. Luckily, it was easy to restore the database from the previous night’s BackupMan automated backup.
It must be pointed out that this problem is very unlikely to happen in day to day use. I was testing to destruction and a 32 Kbyte page purely of WikiWords is not very likely in normally use. I’ve been using WikiPad for a couple of years and this was the first time I had managed to get it to reset. By the way a 15 Kbyte page containing 1600 hyperlinks worked fine - more than enough for most uses…
WikiPad doesn’t have a PC application and so there is no native method for exporting WikiPad pages to PC applications. However there are a number of options for extracting your data. If you just want to extract the text from one page you can cut and paste it to a Memo within the handheld. Unfortunately WikiPad doesn’t support ‘Select All’ text, but you can use an add-in such as pEditTool to make it easier.
If you need to export large quantities of text from WikiPad to a PC application the easiest way is to search the Palm backup directory on your PC for the WikiPad database (WikiDb-PtWk.pdb). Copy it to a new location and rename it with a .txt extension. You can then open it with a plain text editor, such as Notepad, and will find the text is easy to extract.
Spotted the curious limitation yet? There is no facility within WikiPad to delete pages. Even removing all of a page’s content still leaves an entry in the ‘Goto Page’ list. Add a page by mistake and it will be there for ever. Given the rapidly increasing memory sizes of PalmOS devices and the compact size of WikiPad pages this isn’t too much of a problem, but it is a very strange omission.
Wikipad is freeware.