How to build a Tiddlywiki website

This will be a step-by-step instruction on how to swap your WordPress website to Tiddlywiki.

Tiddlywiki is a non-linear personal web notebook. It can be used for many purposes, a place to keep writing notes/research, a database, a personal diary and an organiser for any event you can think of. For over a decade, I’ve used Tiddlywiki for planning my novels, for keeping my writing research in one place and as a database to keep track of that super secret side of my personality — gaming. Recently, I decided to start using it to build a new responsive website and transfer this website over to it.


For two main reasons. The first is that I’ve used WordPress for many, many years and I know it well. It’s been a “learn as you go” experience. And that learning experience was great. However, over recent years I have come to the opinion that WordPress is too bloated for what I use it for. And then late last year, my website crashed and burned. Apart from the fact it was hacked, WordPress has advanced so much that my internet provider couldn’t keep up and, because I had other things on my mind, the plugins no longer worked as I hadn’t updated them, leaving a website that was of no use to me. It was totally broken. Yes, ignoring the hacking part of this story, the website was easily fixed, but it made me wonder why I have a website with so many plugins to make it do what I wanted.

At that time, I received an email from a Tiddlywiki group that I’ve been a member of for over a decade about using Tiddlywiki as a website and that got me thinking. Here was a chance for another “learn as you go” experience. But the thing I liked best, and the second reason I am chosing to do this, is that “Tiddlywiki lets you choose where to keep your data, guaranteeing that in the decades to come you will still be able to use the notes you take today”.

The version of Tiddlywiki that I use to create the website will remain usable forever. It will only need updating to the latest version if I chose to do so. And I like that thought. Tiddlywiki is open source and all the versions work, even the old classic version that I started using in 2005. Yes, I have upgraded all my Tiddlywiki projects to the latest version, because I wanted to, not because I had to.

That’s the plan. I will swap my WordPress website over to a Tiddlywiki website. I’m not saying it will be easy. In fact, I know that it will be difficult for me as I am not IT minded. But I love Tiddlywiki and I love the thought of the challenge to achieve the end result. And I intend to document the process as I go so that other non-technical minded website owners can follow suit, if they want.

So, the first step in the journey is to head over to the Tiddlywiki website and download an empty wiki.

I recommend playing around in the empty wiki to get used to it first. There are lots of hints and tips to go through on the official website. This will give you a good understanding on how the software works prior to starting your website project.

Once you have a general idea how the software works, there are two options:

  1. You can change the file from empty.html to index.html and create a one file website. This is fine if your website isn’t too big.
  2. Use a command line to create a “pages” website.

More on both of these options later.

Time for a Change

I’ve used WordPress for many years now, but find myself feeling that as it becomes more advanced, it’s becoming too big for what I want it for. There are so many plugins. Everything is so bloated. And I don’t want all that, but I do need certain elements.

Over the years, I’ve mentioned Tiddlywiki multiple times. I have several wikis that I use for my writing. Some hold writing resources and tips, more are used for individual book and/or series research and I even have one dedicated to publishing. Then there’s the more personal wikis – gaming, genealogy, and a (sort of) diary.

Since I’ve started rebuilding this website after that hacking issue, I’ve turned my attention to Tiddlywiki once again. My question was “can it be used to build a website” and the answer is yes. Now that is something worth looking into.

You’ll notice that I stopped “fixing” the website some weeks ago, yet I have been working on it behind the scenes this entire time. I feel it’s time to change from WordPress to something with staying power. You may feel WordPress has that, but after the hacking issue was fixed, my website still didn’t work because the base was upgraded and the plugins no longer worked. This left me with a webspace that did nothing. I believe that having a working Tiddlywiki site will remove that issue…permanently.

It’s a learning curve though. But one step at a time…

I might document the journey. Yes, that is a good idea. Stay tuned.