20-Minutes TWiki Tutorial

This step-by-step, hands-on tutorial gets you up to speed with all the TWikiSite basics, in mere minutes...

1. Get set...

Open two browser windows, so that you can follow these steps in one window, while trying things out in the other.

2. Take a quick tour...

A TWikiSite is divided into webs; each one usually represents one area of collaboration. You can navigate the webs from the navigation menu.
  • Each web has hyperlinked topics, displayed as pages in your browser.
  • The home page in each web is the WebHome topic.
  • To browse a TWiki web, just click on any highlighted link. These links are called WikiWords and comprise two or more words with initial capitals, run together.
  • Follow the WikiWord link and learn what it is.
  • If you know the name of a topic, you can jump directly to it by typing its name into the Search field on the top of the page. Type WebSearch to jump to the search page.
  • You can search each TWiki web. Enter a search string into the Search field.
  • Note, that you can use the Search field for a topic search as well as for a content search. When you enter a string looking like a WikiWord it is first taken to be a topic search. If that fails a content search is tried. To prevent the topic search try an all lowercase search string.
  • Tip: Try a search for content where a set of strings occure together. You might have noticed, that in case of a unique hit you are redirected directly to that topic. Experiment with the following examples and see the difference:
    • WikiWord: go to the topic WikiWord
    • wiki word: search the topic where wiki & word are in there
    • wiki: search for all ocurrences of the word wiki
    • formattedsearch
    • formatted search

3. Open a private account...

To edit topics, you need to have a TWiki account.
  • Go to the TWikiRegistration page to create your TWiki account. Fill in a couple of lines and you're set!

4. Check out TWiki users, groups, offices...

  • Go to the WikiUsers topic in the TWiki.User web; it has a list of all users of TWiki. Your WikiName will be in this list after you register.
  • Go to the TWikiGroups? topic in the TWiki.User web; it has a list of groups which can be used to define fine grained TWikiAccessControl in TWiki.
  • Go to the SiteMap? topic to get an overview on all webs.

ALERT! Caution: up to here, things are rewritten to match the NatsWiki? site. From here on the text merily referes to the standard TWiki site. Although the described functionallity is there, it is found in different places with the NatSkin? and NatSkinPlugin?. Contact your %TWIKIWEBADMIN% to do a rewrite of that stuff, or feel free to improve this tutorial if you are in the NatsGroup?.

5. Test the page controls...

Go to the bottom of the page to see what you can do. The color-coded control strip has a collection of action links:
  • [Edit] - add to or edit the topic (discussed later)
  • [Attach] - attach files to a topic (discussed later)
  • [Ref-By] - find out what other topics link to this topic (reverse link)
  • [Printable] - goes to a stripped down version of the page, good for printing
  • [Diffs] - topics are under revision control - [Diffs] shows you the complete change history of the topic, ex: who changed what and when.
  • [r1.3 | > | r1.2 | > | r1.1] - view a previous version of the topic or the difference between two versions.
  • [More] - additional controls, like [Rename/move], version control and setting the topic's parent.

6. Change a page, and create a new one...

Go to the Sandbox. This is the sandbox web, where you can make changes and try it all out at will.
  • Click the [Edit] link. You are now in edit mode and you can see the source of the page. (Go to a different topic like TestTopic3 in case you see a "Topic is locked by an other user" warning.)
  • Look at the text in edit mode and compare it with the rendered page (move back and forth in your browser.)
  • Notice how WikiWords are linked automatically; there is no link if you look at the text in edit mode.
  • Now, create a new topic - your own test page:
    1. In edit mode, enter a new text with a WikiWord, ex:
      This is YourOwnSandBox topic.
    2. Preview and save the topic. The name appears, highlighted, with a linked question mark at the end. This means that the topic doesn't exist yet.
    3. Click on the question mark. Now you're in edit mode of the new topic.
    4. Type some text, basically, like you write an email.
    5. A signature with your name is already entered by default. NOTE: The User. in front of your name means that you have a link from the current web to your personal topic located in the User web.
    6. Preview and save the topic...
  • Learn about text formatting. You can enter text in TWikiShorthand, a very simple markup language. Follow the TWikiShorthand link to see how, then:
    1. Go back to your sandbox topic end edit it.
    2. Enter some text in TWikiShorthand: bold text, italic text, bold italic text, a bullet list, tables, paragraphs, etc. Hint: If you need help, click on the TextFormattingRules link located below the text box in edit mode.
    3. Preview and save the topic.

7. Use your browser to upload files as page attachments...

You can attach any type of file to a topic - documents, images, programs, whatever - where they can be opened, viewed, or downloaded.
  • Attaching files is just like including a file with an email.
    1. Go back to your sandbox topic and click on the [Attach] link at the bottom.
    2. Click [Browse] to find a file on your PC that you'd like to attach; enter an optional comment; leave everything else unchecked.
    3. Click [Upload file], then scroll to the end of the page to see the new attachment listing.
  • Do this again - this time, upload a GIF, JPG or PNG image file.
    • Check the [Link:] box to Create a link to the attached file at the end of the topic. The image will show up at the bottom of the topic.
    • To move the image, edit the topic and place the last line (containing %ATTACHURL%) anywhere on the page.
  • If you have a GIF, JPG or PNG image of yourself, your cat, your sprawling family estate...why not upload it now to personalize your account page: User.guest?

8. Get email alerts whenever pages are changed...

WebNotify is a subscription service that automatically notifies you by email when topics change in a TWiki web. This is a convenience service - for many people, checking email is easier than checking the Web.
  • If you're using TWiki to collaborate on a project, it's important to know when anyone on your team posts an update. If you're following a specific discussion, it's convenient to know when there's new input.
  • Alerts are emailed as links to individual topics that've been changed in a set period: each day, every hour, whatever is configured for your system.
  • It's strongly recommended that you try out the service by subscribing to each TWiki web that's relevant to you. You can subscribe and unsubscribe instantly, on a per web basis using WebNotify.

That's it! You're now equipped with all the TWiki essentials. You are ready to roll.

NOTE: When first using TWiki, it will probably seem strange to be able to change other people's postings - we're used to separating individual messages, with email, message boards, non-Wiki collaboration platforms. Don't worry about it. You can't accidentally delete important stuff - you can always check previous versions, and copy-and-paste from them if you want to undo any changes. After a short while, TWiki-style free-form communication becomes second-nature. You'll expect it everywhere!

-- MikeMannix - 01 Dec 2001
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