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I have some other stuff about askSam on my home TWiki -- it's time to start moving some of it here. Summarizing some of that -- askSam is a free format database with excellent search capabilities (and some scripting capabilities, and other stuff I won't mention (like structured data) -- I used askSam (and zyIndex) for a long time in dos / Windows -- when I decided to migrate to Linux I needed to find a replacement. The closest I could find at the time was the wiki concept, and eventually I settled on TWiki.

<update> UPDATE 27 April 2003: I just have to say that after about 2 years of using TWiki (and probably any wiki), I still like askSam better. I think the two key factors are:

  • askSam is much faster to edit — IIRC, you don't switch to a special mode to edit (or it is a very fast switch, maybe because it's a local program), saving is a one step process (no preview) and also very fast
  • searching is much better with all the boolean, near, ... searches and very fast results
I guess the latency on the Internet is a big factor, especially with my dial up line. I'll have to refresh my memory about how fast it works when I'm on a high speed line (like at NCACC). Maybe I want a solution where I have a local mirror of my TWiki stuff, just for increased searching speed. Editing is the problem — do I edit locally and rsync (for example) periodically, or do I use the local mirror for reading and searching, and edit on the "main site" (twiki.org currently). I guess even the latter would be a significant speedup. I guess this is a ToDo. </update>

Now someone has mentioned eXist, an open source XML database which could be an alternate. I looked briefly at it, and recognize that it could be an alternate, especially for better structuring and searching of data, but I don't have a pressing need to switch from TWiki at this time (and, in fact, I think TWiki better meets my current goal of a collaborative learning notebook). (There are ways to make the content accessible and changable from the Internet, some of the demos show at least access via the Internet, but, I think I'll stick to TWiki for the time being. (And TWiki is evolving (has evolved) to XHTML, and includes structured data via its forms, and search has been improved with the addition of "and" (;), and could be improved further with a dedicated Web search engine like Namazu (??) or htDig.

eXist apparently uses Java which doesn't thrill me at first glance (I'm concerned about the speed of Java and the lack of "built in" Java support in all browsers / distros -- Mozilla, at least on Mandrake 9.0 and earlier does not come preconfigured with Java support AFAIK).

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  • () RandyKramer - 22 Dec 2002
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