I’m thinking about writing another computer book, which will require me to organize my thoughts in some kind of cohesive manner. I’ve gone through this process before, and I’ve become something of an expert on what works and what doesn’t work for me. For example, when I jot down notes, I either loose the paper, or I forget what the notes mean. I do a little better with Microsoft Word documents, but I’ve been known to accidentally overlay those. However, I think I’ve finally found a way to organize my thoughts.

For the last two years or so, I’ve been working with XML a great deal, discovering new, interesting, and slightly bizarre ways to accomplish tasks. And because human memory is what it is (i.e., fallible), I’ve been using the open source tool Wiki on a Stick to document my mental wanderings… I mean, work accomplishments.

Wiki on a Stick is a download consisting of a zipped folder full of files and more folders that extracts to what’s shown in Figure A (woas-0.12.0.html is the important one). Figure B shows the semi-blank slate that one is presented with when first using Wiki on a Stick.
Figure A

The files (Click the image to enlarge.)

Figure B

A blank slate (Click the image to enlarge.)

The thing I like about Wiki on a Stick is that, unlike Wikipedia, unless you’re doing tables and links, there’s really no need to remember the various formatting commands. The reason for this sanity is because the editor (Figure C) has a number of Wiki Code buttons and XHTML Code buttons. So, creating new content is a matter of click and type.
Figure C

Wiki on a Stick page editor (Click the image to enlarge.)

To create a new page, you click the New Page link on the menu (which prompts for the page title and if it should be added to the main menu) before displaying the editor. At this point, you’re pretty much on your own — it’s your Wiki, so you can document whatever you want.

Wiki on a Stick’s Help feature is a lifesaver; you might want to read Help before getting started in order to keep out of trouble. There’s help for the following:

  • Aliases
  • CSS
  • Create a page
  • Delete a page
  • Deprecated syntax
  • Edit a page
  • Edit the menu
  • Editor
  • Erase all pages
  • Export
  • General usage
  • Headers
  • Hotkeys
  • Images
  • Import
  • Include text file
  • Include web page
  • Include wiki page
  • Index
  • JavaScript
  • Join lines of text
  • Links
  • Lists
  • Macros
  • Namespaces
  • Nowiki text
  • Page scrolling
  • Plugins
  • Publish wiki online
  • Rename a page
  • Requirements
  • Rulers
  • Run wiki on a webserver
  • Security
  • Special Advanced
  • Special Dead Pages
  • Special Erase Wiki
  • Special ExportWSIF
  • Special ImportWSIF
  • Special Options
  • Syntax
  • Table of Contents
  • Tables
  • Tags
  • Text formatting
  • Transclusion
  • WSIF
  • Wiki is read-only

With that much help, if you get stuck on an issue it is at most temporary. But if (like me) you’re able to injure yourself on a paper bag, there are also forums and a mailing list.


I’m using Wiki on a Stick to organize my thoughts for a book and to document some items for my job, but there are many other uses for the tool; for example, it can also be used to document entire software development projects or monsters for a role playing campaign. The sky is the limit. So how would you use Wiki on a Stick?