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ALERT! NOTE: This is a HistoricalDocument topic. It used to be distributed in an earlier TWiki release, but is no longer part of the official TWiki distribution. Post questions, error notes, and suggestions concerning the documentation of this topic in the comments section below! Use the Support web for problems you are having using TWiki.

Note: This is a historical documented, duplicate of TWikiTopics

A WikiTopic is one unit of information in a TWiki web. It is more or less a universal term in the world of Wikis. Each WikiTopic is displayed as one Web page in your browser. While debate swirls in high circles of TWiki development as to whether a topic should simply be called a page, there is a good case for the distinction:

  • a WikiTopic has a distinct WikiWord title that defines it; a Web page doesn't
  • a topic's content is self-contained, doesn't spill over onto other topics; a Web page can continue a subject, book-like, across many pages
  • particularly in TWiki, a topic has an array of features that make it distinct - attachments, relationships to other topics, classification data, independent revision control, and so on; a Web page has none of that

A topic is used by TWiki to generate a regular Web page.



Comments & Questions about this Historical Document Topic

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A WikiTopic is one unit of information in a T/Wiki web. It is more or less a universal term in the world of Wikis. Each WikiTopic is displayed as one Web page in your browser. While debate swirls in high circles of TWiki development as to whether a topic should simply be called a page, there is a good case for the distinction:

  • a WikiTopic has a distinct WikiWord title that defines it; a Web page doesn't -- Then call it a WikiPage. People will be able to easily relate to the page half of the term, and recognize that there is something more to understand because of the conjunction with Wiki. If you want, in private, say (as you do below) that a WikiTopic generates a WikiPage, but let the public have a decent shot at understanding by using the term WikiPage in public. Yes, that argument only works with the whole thing WikiPage, where the (tentative) changes here were to get at the formal root of the ABBREVIATION, ie: topic on its own... page on its own suggests WebPage. At least, that was the thinking here.

  • a topic's content is self-contained [under its title], doesn't spill over onto other topics; a Web page can continue a subject, book-like, across many pages -- Not necessarily true, not the intention in my case, and I think the fact that a WikiWord automatically creates a link implies it is "systematically" not the intention. I intend to have concise (wiki) pages of information that cover specific "subjects" (to avoid use of the word topic), with essential or unessential details on other pages, referenced by the use of WikiWords (in other words, "spilled over" on to other pages). I added "under its title" to emphasize. I simply meant that an article in an online magazine, to cram more ads or meet page load specs or whatever, may continue on a second and even third page. The one unit of info, the article, has nothing to do with the pages, they're probably arbitrary database-generated strings that don't even relate permanently to each "page" generated. I wonder how different groups of Web browsers conceptual Web pages these days - at one point, there was static entity, a physical file. But now, between seeing database URI's in the browser address field, and kids using PHP to build sites, where they KNOW the mechanism, part-static part-dynamic includes, what's "Web page"? It's only a page when displayed. In that context, the concept of a TWiki topic may be...soothing <g> as well as accurately setting up the new user for delving deeper into the features pool, where the topic unit makes sense of all the rest???? Or not...

  • particularly in TWiki, a topic has an array of features that make it distinct - attachments, relationships to other topics, classification data, independent revision control, and so on; a Web page has none of that -- Web pages can have attachments, just like some wiki pages (TWiki, for example) can have attachments. Web pages can be under revision control, either visible by the user, or under a private RCS for use by the author/owner. To me, the essential feature of a wiki is that it is editable by the reader. TWiki certainly has more features than that, but not all wikis do. All three points, as far as Wikis particularly, seem to hand on the title mostly, so maybe they can be combined into one or two sentences. Here, TWiki was singled out as having more topic-specific features, but simply the title tied to the freeform content I think is unique, a Web page can be anything that renders in a browser, a Flash page, or a directly called image file; a WikiTopic is always a title and its freeform data. Take some data from Topic 1, put it in Topic 2, and you still have distinct topics with changed contents. A simple Web page barely has a filename, give it a default directory name like index.html, and you can display it without knowing for sure what it's called. My feeling was that a Web page is a transient display as often as not; a topic is a basic solid unit. Hmmmmm

For now, a topic is used by TWiki to generate a regular Web page. OK, a nice phrasing which reserves an opening for a change in the long term to having a topic generate something other than a web page. But what?? Do you have anything particular in mind? When it does generate something other than a web page, people will see (or hear, or have holographic images induced in their brain, or whatever) some manifestation of a wiki "topic". For now, that is a web page, and I suggest we call it that. I need a name for the thing that people see, and I prefer a name that others already understand. Likewise for web vs. site and directory. Ahh, you noticed - I admit I was looking...ahead. No, in fact, I wasn't thinking that at all, consciously, but flexibility of content/rendering is inherent in the topic idea anyhow. A container! Meanwhile, in posted comments, there seemed to be a genuine (?) agreement, arrrived at in different spots, that web is the difficult one. Can we have a TWiki (Web) Site, comprising...TWiki Web (Sites)? Pages follow from sites, I mean, webs. Lose the web (web within a web), and the natural progression to page goes. I first thought page made for sense to the end user at least, but now, I see it like: Browse a TWiki site, and you're looking at pages. No problem. "It was on the that last page" you don't correct - "you mean, last topic". But the minute editing kicks in, topic makes sense. Like the survey says, 95% of people have a hard time just thinking about editing a Web page - maybe filling in a Web form to place structured content, or opening an HTML editor, uploading, etc - not opening up a whole page in a browser window!!! So in TWiki, enter edit and you're shifting paradigms, leaping out of the box, dealing in toptic titles and WikiWords, and then, it make sense to have a distinct name for what you're working on. IMHO._

PS: This is also being discussed (along with web vs. site and directory) on some other page -- we should include a link to that other page. TWikiGlossary, another murky enterprise, for one.

-- MikeMannix - 12 May 2002
-- Main.RandyKramer - 12 May 2002
-- Main.MikeMannix - 14 May 2002

I agree with PeterMasiar's well-stated comments re page vs. topic on the TWikiGlossary page.

Also, I think my leap into a distinction between a wiki topic and a wiki page as a rendering or instantiation of a wiki topic was misleading and beside the point. (See the third bullet, above.)

-- RandyKramer - 14 May 2002

I retired this topic since it is covered by the TWikiTopics topic.

-- PeterThoeny - 09 Jan 2007

Please use the Support forum if you have questions about TWiki features. This comment section is about the documentation of this topic.
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Topic revision: r15 - 2007-01-09 - PeterThoeny
 
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