Relative links in PNotes

In the last big change to my no-server wiki system—which I now call PNotes—I added the ability to categorize notes by subdirectory. This made PNotes more organized, but because I took some shortcuts in the programming I lost some of the portability of the system. In the last few days I’ve fixed the code to get portability back and uploaded the fixes to the PNotes GitHub repository.

One of my goals with PNotes was to create a wiki-like system that was self-contained within a folder—no reliance on a database system. I wanted to be able to move the PNotes folder anywhere—from place to place on my main computer, to my notebook, to someone else’s computer, to a CDROM or DVD, to my iPhone—and still have it work. When I added the ability to have notes in subdirectories, I decided to use a <base> tag in the <head> of each note to make it easier to generate the list of links in the sidebar.

The <base> tag made all the sidebar links absolute instead of relative, and this broke the portability I wanted. I could still move a PNotes folder anywhere on any of my computers because my computers have all the utility programs needed to regenerate the HTML files in their new location—all I had to do was reset the <base> and run make clean; make in the new directory. But I couldn’t zip up a copy of a PNotes folder and send it someone else, nor could I put it on my iPhone; the <base> would be wrong and screw up all the links.

Now, through a combination of Python and JavaScript, PNotes portability has been restored. You’ll need one line in the file,

dirname = notes

to tell the system the name of the PNotes folder. I’ve always just used “notes,” but you can use any name as long as you set the dirname option accordingly. (I strongly suggest you stick to alphanumeric characters; the folder name is used in a regular expression, so special characters like parentheses and hyphens could mess things up)

Strictly speaking, the new PNotes isn’t perfectly portable. For example, the two “Edit” links in the sidebar won’t work unless the computer understands the txmt:// URL scheme for opening a file in TextMate (or BBEdit). And the contacts links won’t work unless it understands the addressbook:// scheme and has the same list of contacts with the same Address Book IDs. But all the links to notes should work on any computer.

The latest changes have made the GitHub README for PNotes a little out of date. I’ll be fixing it up in the next few days.