Sunday, June 23, 2013

Zim, Again

I wrote rather critically about Zim some time ago. Recently, I looked at it again more thoroughly, and I must say that I am more impressed.

  1. It installed easily; and it worked "right out of the box," so to speak.
  2. It has wysiwyg markup, that is, all you see when you write is the bold, italic or whatever text. You do not see the markup.
  3. Linking is fairly easy, though not as easy as I would have wished. There is a popup into which you enter the name and alias, and this appears not optimal.
  4. It allows name spaces, like [[Journal:20130623]] to organize pages into groups.
  5. It has a fairly sophisticated template system.
And there are other things I like.

However, what I liked most was that on opening the source files of the wiki pages with notepad I discovered that Zim's underlying markup is almost exactly the same as ConnectedText's markup: **bold** and //Italics//, and __underline__ (though it shows up like a marker highlight in yellow). ~~Strikethrough~~ is different, as is the command for headings which uses the same convention of surrounding the text with "=" but requires a space before and after the words for the heading. There are other small differences.

What really surprised me, however, was that Zim actually uses free links to point to other wiki spaces. Yet, surrounding text with brackets like this [[new page]] in the edit window does not seem to work. You seem to have to go through the pop up route—annoying!

But you'd be wrong to think so (as I did): If you add the links by enclosing them in in double square brackets, close Zim, and then re-open the program, they do show up correctly as links. The same thing for all the other wiki markup (**, //, __). In fact, it gets even better (at least as far as I am concerned. If you edit the text as you normally would in a Wiki and the hit CTRL-R for reload (the command is also hidden under the View menu item), the links and the formatting show up just as they would show up if they had entered with the popup or the menu.

So free links work in Zim after all. It's just that you have to hit CTRL-R after having entered them manually.

Zim won't replace ConnectedText for me, but it is an interesting program that I want to explore further especially since you can store the pages also in DropBox.

The Zim pages import easily into ConnectedText (using text import).


Angry Thinker said...

Do you know if they actively develop this app? The reason I ask is because they have this comment on their home page: *Although zim now exists for over 3 years there is no "1.0" version yet*.
This comment has been there for a long time, probably as long as the site exists.

MK said...

It seems there is development, though it also seems slow: Zim