SoyWiki turns Vim into a powerful, lean, and fast wiki. It's got all the protein of a more conventional wiki, but less saturated fat and no cholesterol.
A quick overview of SoyWiki's characteristics and features:
- flat text files
- maximum data portability
- high interoperability with Unix tools
- Vim text editing power
- super-efficient modes of wiki traversal
- Git for versioning, distributed workflows, and blaming
- CamelCase wiki words
- namespaced wiki words
- autocompletion of wiki words
- automated global renaming of wiki words
- syntax colored wiki words
- can open web hyperlinks in external browser or inside Vim
- outliner-like capability with expansion commands
- operates on all POSIX systems (e.g. OS X, Linux, FreeBSD)
SoyWiki builds on Vim's strengths as a text editor and interface to the Unix operating system, SoyWiki's primary goal is to make it possible to create, navigate, and refactor wiki content at the speed of thought.
SoyWiki is good for tracking projects, contacts, ideas, and collecting and organizing research. SoyWiki combines the affordances of notebooks, index cards, and Post-it notes, and adds to them the power of hyperlinks, search, revision history, automated refactoring, and more.
SoyWiki makes a good writing aid, especially if you do your writing in
Vim. You can have SoyWiki open in multiple Vim windows, tabs, and
buffers, alongside any number of regular Vim windows. Throw in a bunch
of Vim abbreviations (
:help abbreviations), a large monitor, and a
teapot, and you'll have a powerful toolkit for writing your paper, essay,
book, or screenplay.
SoyWiki is free and open source.
- a recent version of Vim (SoyWiki is developed against Vim 7.2 and 7.3)
- a recent version of Ruby: Ruby 1.9.2 is recommended
- RubyGems (if Ruby version is older than 1.9)
- a recent version of Git (18.104.22.168 or above to be safe)
The current version of SoyWiki assumes a Unix environment.
To use SoyWiki you should be fairly good at using Vim.
To install Ruby 1.9.2, I recommend using the RVM Version Manager.
Most of SoyWiki's commands should work even if you don't have Git installed. But the revision history commands will not.
gem install soywiki
Test your installation by typing
soywiki -h. You should see SoyWiki's help.
If you run into any PATH errors, try the following: Install the RVM
Version Manager, then install Ruby 1.9.2 through RVM, and then run
gem install soywiki. This should solve any installation issues.
If you ever want to uninstall SoyWiki from your system, execute this command:
gem uninstall soywiki
... and all traces of SoyWiki will removed.
New and improved versions of SoyWiki will be released over time. To install the
latest version, just type
gem install soywiki again.
Before you start SoyWiki, create a directory that will hold your wiki
cd into it. Then you can start SoyWiki with
You can make as many SoyWiki wikis on your system as you want just by creating directories for them. It's not a good idea however to nest SoyWiki wiki directories within each other, for reasons that will become clear below.
To use MacVim as your SoyWiki Vim engine, you can run soywiki like this
or you can
export SOYWIKI_VIM=mvim in your
~/.bash_profile and then
You can start SoyWiki from within a running Vim session. To set this up, first install or update SoyWiki, and then run
Please note that you will need to run this command after each time you update SoyWiki to a newer version.
Assuming the plugin is installed, you can start SoyWiki from within a running Vim session by typing the command
Make sure when you do this that Vim's working directory is the root of
your wiki directory. You can change the working directory for the
current Vim window with
:help lcd for more info.
For basic use, SoyWiki works exactly like a typical wiki.
You write text, and when you want to create a new wiki page, you come up with a WikiWord for it and format it in CamelCase. Whenever you type a valid WikiLink, it will automatically be syntax-highlighted, and pressing ENTER on it will take you to the new page.
Creating WikiWords and pressing ENTER on them is how you create wiki pages and link them together. You'll be surprised at how powerful this simple mechanism is for organizing your notes.
In SoyWiki, a wiki page is a simple text file that has a WikiWord title on the first line. Beyond that, you can append any text you want. (You may alter the title line at the top, but it helps you see what wiki page you're on.) SoyWiki will create stub WikiPages for you automatically as you traverse WikiLinks that don't yet reference any content.
That's all you need to know to get started.
Every WikiWord in SoyWiki is implicitly or explicitly namespaced. SoyWiki's namespaced WikiWords help organize your wiki space conceptually. They also help reduce clutter in your wiki directory.
An explicitly namespaced WikiWord looks like this:
The implicitly namespaced form looks just like a conventional WikiWord:
A namespace must start with a lower-case letter and consist only of letters, numbers, and underscore characters.
Within a WikiWord namespace you can use unqualified WikiWords to link
pages within that namespace together. For example, if you are editing a
recipes.SoyMacaroni and you want to link to a page called
recipes.SoyRaspberrySmoothie, you can type a link called
SoyRaspberrySmoothie. SoyWiki will treat this link as an implicitly
namespaced link to another page in the
SoyWiki wiki pages are stored as text files named by WikiWord within
subdirectories named after their namespace. So
recipes.SoyRaspberrySmoothie would be written to
You can't chain namespace words together. The maximum nesting level is 1. More nesting would imply hierarchical relationships, and permitting hierarchical nesting goes against the grain of what a wiki is, which is an undirected graph. SoyWiki namespaces are not supposed to represent hierarchies, but domains (e.g., personal, work, project1, project2, etc.). You can easily represent hierarchical relationships within a wiki page. See "Expanding a wiki page" below to see how you can use SoyWiki like an outliner program.
When you start SoyWiki for the first time, the active namespace is the default
main.HomePage is the first page you will see.
You can navigate a SoyWiki wiki very quickly with the following commands:
CTRL-kmove the cursor directly to the next or previous WikiLink on the page
ENTERfollows the WikiLink under the cursor
,ffollows the first WikiLink after the cursor
CTRL-lopens a WikiLink in a vertical split window; press
CTRL-lagain while the cursor is on the top line to close the new window
CTRL-hdoes the same, but in a regular split window
qcloses a split window
,htakes you to the
HomePageof the current namespace
,Htakes you to
These key mappings may not be very mnemonic, but they are easy to memorize through muscle memory and were chosen to keep the hands stationary and the fingers near home position on a QWERTY keyboard while navigating the wiki.
You can also use Vim's jump motions
CTRL-i to move back
and forth in your jump history. See
:help jump-motions for more on
this. You can press
CTRL-^ to toggle between the current page and the
last page you looked at.
,mopens the page list
,nopens the namespace list
,Mopens the inbound links page list
You can view all the pages in your wiki, most recently modified first,
,m. This opens both a page list and autocompletion window.
You can use the standard Vim autocompletion commands here to find the
page you want and call it up. See Vim's
:help ins-completion-menu for
When you're on a wiki page and you want to see all the other wiki pages
that link in to it, press
,M. If there is only one page that links in,
you'll be taken there automatically.
,n lets you select from your namespaces. Choosing one will take you to
HomePage of that namespace.
Opening web hyperlinks
,oopens the first web hyperlink under or after the cursor in the default external web browser
ENTERopens the web hyperlink under the cursor in the default external web browser
,Oopens the web hyperlink under the cursor in a vertical split window
CTRL-w fopens the web hyperlink under the cursor in a normal split window
gfopens the web hyperlink under the cursor in the same Vim window
,o opens the next web hyperlink on or after the cursor in your default
external web browser. Web hyperlinks are the URLs that begin with
http:// or https://. You can also use
ENTER when the cursor is over a
Under the covers, SoyWiki uses the command
launch your external web browser. This should cover Linux Gnome desktop
and OS X users. You can change the command SoyWiki uses to open a
hyperlink by adding this to your
let g:SoyWiki#browser_command = "your browser command here"
If your Vim has
netrw installed, you can open a hyperlink directly in
Vim by putting the cursor on a web hyperlink and typing
,O (capital O). All these commands open the webpage inside your Vim
elinks or whatever browser you set as your
:help netrw for more information.
TIP: I personally prefer using
netrw (configured to use elinks) to
launching URLs in an external web browser. This lets me keep all my URL
bookmarks in regular text files and open, clip, and annotate them all in
SoyWiki and Vim. Using
netrw helps your text editor rather than your
web browser dominate your workflow. And you tend to stay focused on
your task rather than going down the rabbit hole of internet
When you're writing a wiki page and you want to link to another page,
SoyWiki can help you autocomplete your WikiLink. Press
in Vim insert mode to invoke it.
You can delete the current page with
:SWRenameTo [new name] renames the current page. Make sure the new name
is valid CamelCase. You can put a namespace in front of the new name
namespace/. If you omit the namespace, the current
namespace is assumed.
When you rename a page, SoyWiki will update all the links on other pages in your wiki that need to be updated in light of the change. (You'll see the other links that were updated in the output.)
To create a wiki page directly, without first typing a WikiWord and
traversing it, type
:SWCreate followed by the full path to the new
page. The form of the argument here should be
may use command line file path autocomplete to fill out the namespace
subdirectory if it already exists.
TIP: I recommend not using :SWCreate to create wiki pages. Prefer the method of writing a WikiLink and then traversing it. This will make your wiki more interlinked, better organized, and easier to traverse in an organic way.
Beyond the standard cut and paste, SoyWiki gives you four fast ways of shuttling text from one wiki page to another.
First, highlight the text you want to move with Vim's visual mode. (See
:help visual-mode for more info)
:SWInsert [target]to move the text to the top of target page
:SWAppend [target]to move the text to the bottom of the target page
:SWInsertand replaces the text with a WikiWord link
:SWAppendand replaces the text with a WikiWord link
[target] is the name of the file that contains the wiki page you're
These four commands will open the target page (if it isn't open already) in a split window and insert or append the selected text into it. If the target page doesn't exist, it will be created.
You can use these shortcuts:
:SWLinkAppend you can use Vim's command line
:help cmdline-completion) to avoid typing out the whole command name.
Also, you can use Vim's command line history (
and command line window (
:help cmdline-window) to save keystrokes when
you want to repeatedly execute an insert or append command targeting the
same wiki page.
These commands search your SoyWiki wiki.
your search to the current namespace.
Vim will load any matches in the quickfix list window. If there are
matches, you can use
:cp to go from match to match,
list the matches, and
:cc [item number] to see a particular match ln
the list. See
:help quickfix or more QuickFix commands.
:SWSearch gnu :SWNamespaceSearch gnu
You can use
:SWS as a shortcut for
:SWSearch. You can also
Searches are case-insensitve.
Under the hood,
:SWSearch is just a thin wrapper around the
:vimgrep directly if you want to do anything more
TIP: You can flag important notes in your wiki content by typing flags
like TODO or IMPORTANT! on the same line, and then use
:cl to see all instances of them across your entire wiki.
Revision history and distributed workflows
SoyWiki delegates revision-tracking, syncing, and collaboration workflows to Git. SoyWiki automatically creates a Git repository in your wiki directory and automatically commits all the edits you make to it. You can sync a SoyWiki wiki between two computers using the standard Git push and pull commands. Collaborators can also edit a common wiki this way, in peer to peer fashion.
SoyWiki provides a few convenient key mappings to view the revision history of a wiki page:
git-log -pview of the revision history of the current page
git log --statview of the current page's revision history
git-blameview of the current page, which shows when each line was added and by whom.
You can always bypass Vim and SoyWiki altogether and use Git directly to inspect your revision history. The Git repo for your SoyWiki wiki will be located in the same directory as your wiki files.
To sync your SoyWiki wiki between two personal computers, you can follow the instructions here and set up an bare Git repository on some server for all your computers to push to and pull from.
If you want something simpler, you could also try keeping your wiki folder in a Dropbox folder.
If you want to edit a common SoyWiki with many other people, it's probably best to set up a common upstream Git repository (e.g. on GitHub, if the wiki content is for public consumption). This process may be intimidating for non-programmers, so a future version of SoyWiki may provide a more user-friendly interface for distributed collaboration workflows.
Expanding a wiki page
SoyWiki lets you "expand" a wiki page. What this does is expand all the wiki links in the page that appear alone on a line. Each of these links is replaced by the content of the wiki page the link points to. This expansion works recursively on all the expanded content. Don't worry. It can't fall into an infinite recursive loop because it will only expand each WikiWord it encounters once, leaving all subsequent references to the same WikiWord unexpanded.
The expanded version of the page will appear in a new Vim scratch buffer.
From there you can write it out to a new text file, pipe it to
print it, or whatever you like.
There are two forms of expansion: seamful and seamless. Seamful expansion expands wiki links into wiki pages and clearly marks where this has happened by including markers along with the WikiWord that was expanded. Seamless expansion does not mark a point of expansion with anything, and it erases the WikiWord that got expanded.
,xexpands a wiki page seamfully and opens on a vertical split
,Xexpands a wiki page seamlessly and opens on a vertical split
,xxexpands a wiki page seamfully and opens on normal split
,XXexpands a wiki page seamlessly and opens on a normal split
qcloses the expanded view window
Both modes of expansion are useful when you want to assemble a long piece of writing by using one page as a master outline that links to other wiki pages that include the real content. And since expansion is recursive, you can effectively nest outlines within outlines, like dreams within dreams.
Exporting to HTML
soywiki --html --markdown
Want to share your wiki with non-Vim-users? You can export your wiki
into a directory of HTML pages. Type
soywiki --html from the root
directory of your wiki.
Aside from WikiWords, SoyWiki uses no markup system whatsoever. You can write your content in whatever markup system you want, or no markup system at all.
Please note that you need
rdiscount install on your system to
export to HTML.
By default, the HTML export feature just wraps your content in
<pre> tags after turning your WikiWords into hyperlinks.
If instead you want to write your pages using Markdown, you can process
Markdown by adding the
SoyWiki adds a few convenient Vim macros.
\in normal mode reformats the current paragraph. It is equivalent to
,-inserts a long dashed line
,dinserts the current date and time
,Dinserts a long dashed line, followed by the current date and time
,? will open the help webpage in a browser.
CamelCase WikiLinks rule!
Some people don't like the CamelCase (a.k.a. WikiCase) wiki link pattern. But SoyWiki stands with CamelCase.
- Besides being the original, CamelCase is the most elegantly minimalist approach to linking wiki pages together -- "with no additional markup whatsoever," as Ward Cunningham put it.
- It encourages you more than other wiki link patterns to create wiki pages with succinctly descriptive names that are easy to remember.
- Because the link pattern is so minimal and succinct, writing wiki links interrupts your flow of thought less than other wiki link patterns.
- CamelCase wiki links are less noisy than other link patterns in raw plain text form. This also contributes to flow.
- The CamelCase link pattern is very conducive to storing wiki pages in plain text files: the page names can map directly to Unix file names without any awkward character escaping or munging.
No wiki link pattern is perfect! All involve trade-offs. The CamelCase pattern gives you a lot in return for its particular compromises.
There may come the time when you want to link to content, that
isn't part of your wiki. The common link-syntax will allow
you to refer to websites. But if you want to link
to something in your own filesystem you can
also use the
file:// schema. This schema
actually only allows absolute file paths. To circumvent
this problem we have added support for our own schema:
soyfile:// which allows to link to files relative
to the wiki root or, if you use vim's
autochdir option, relative to the current namespace.
Bug reports and feature requests
SoyWiki is very new, so there are kinks and bugs to iron out and lot of desirable features to add. If you have a bug to report or a good feature to suggest, please file it on the issue tracker. That will help a lot.
You can also join the Google Group and comment there.
The original version of Soywiki was created by Daniel Choi (email: dhchoi at gmail.com).
Soywiki is now being maintained and extended by Tim r. Reddehase (github: @0robustus1).