Zim is a free, open source, text editor with wiki like features

One unusual text editor which I came across a while ago, was Zim.  This isn’t your average text editor. If you have used hierarchical text editors  like AllMyNotes Organizer or Tree Notes (commercial), it is sort of similar.

Zim can be used to create pages, and link to those pages, kind of like a wiki functions, hence the tagline, A Desktop Wiki. The application which is written in Python, is available for Windows and Linux. Both versions are identical in usage and features, though the PC version is a few builds behind.

Zim is a free, open source, text editor with wiki like features

When you first run the app, you will be asked to create a new notebook, which consists of giving it a name and selecting a folder to store it in. This notebook will save your pages which contain your notes; all pages are saved in the TXT format.

The interface of Zim is a bit old-school, with a minimalistic design. Don’t be put-off by it, because it is very easy to get used to. The GUI consists of a menu-bar, a toolbar and 2 panes.The main screen is the Home page, the left pane is the tree view which you can use to navigate to the sub-pages in the notebook. The right-pane in the program is your editor, where you will be typing, editing, formatting the notes, etc.

This is where the application’s unique features come in to play. You aren’t limited to text content, Zim lets you add images, hyperlinks to URLs and local files too. You can drag and drop the content to the interface to add them to the page.

Tip: You can use Zim as a text-editor and use it to edit TXT files using the import option. The export options can be used to save the documents to other formats like HTML, MHTML, Latex, Markdown and RST.

The toolbar has a few navigation options, some formatting styles, and the attach files option. Opening the Calendar option creates a Journal notebook which has automatically categorized sub-pages for the selected year, month and date. The format menu has a lot more options including headings, list styles (numbered, bulleted, checkbox list), scripts, etc. This means can use the program for anything, like keeping a journal, maintaining a record of your expenses, a collection of notes, use it for note-taking in class or meetings, to-do lists, etc. It’s up to you.

Tip: Though the toolbar says Strong, Emphasis, etc., the program supports universal keyboard shortcuts for Bold, Italics, Underline etc.

Creating sub-pages and linking

Right-click anywhere on the left-pane to create a new page or sub-page, and choose between the Journal and the default templates. To link to the newly created page, open another page and place the cursor where you want the hyperlink to appear, or just highlight a word and click the Link button (can also use Ctrl + L, or the Insert menu). Links to images and websites will be added as URLs, which will open in your browser. Links to other pages open as a text file in the default editor (e.g. Notepad).  Zim also supports backlinks, which are searchable, and lets you see which page links to where.

You can use Zim to build a fully offline Wiki, complete with a working Index page quite easily. And since it can be published as a HTML file, you can even create a website using the application.

Tip: Though there is a Save option, Zim auto-saves your notes. I’d still manually save the notes though, just in case.

Zim Wiki is also available in a portable version, that can be extracted to any folder on your PC or removable drives. I have merely described the basics of the application, there are a ton of advanced features which you can find

Now you: Which hierarchical text-editor do you use?

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