open source hypertext writer for world building

I’ve been playing with the idea of starting up an open source hypertext writer developed using Cocoa for Mac and VisualC++ for XP. The idea stems from several years of developing constructed worlds for fantasy and sci-fi novels.

I’m finding Scrivener is fantastic for writing projects (thanks Keith you’re an inspiration to all indie developers) but I don’t think it was ever intended as a design tool for worldbuilding.

Is anyone interested in helping?
Failing that, can any suggest features or usuge scenarios for such a program?

I found a plain wiki worked very well for those purposes. I tried out voodoopad, since it acts much like a wiki only in RTF, but I found I preferred the actual structure of html, with headings and so on. Also, I apparently made more extensive use of tables than voodoopad (and the OS X text system) could handle.

The great thing about the wiki is that you can create a link to a page that doesn’t exist yet, and it’ll sit there and patiently remind you every time you read the page that it’s missing more information. The extensive cross-referencing is a much bigger advantage than I had known before I started using wikis.

If you can, take a look at the old old HyperCard application that used to be on Mac. That was one sweet app - I wish it hadn’t bitten the dust. Not exactly what you’re talking about, but still, it may give you some useful ideas.

Thanks for the feed back guys.

Janra, I’m presently using Mediawiki, which is what gave me the idea. I love wikiML cos it’s very quick to write and it seems to capture exactly what hypertext should be. Since I’ve got it running on my powerbook’s webserver I can also get feed back from my wife when i’m on our home network which is also nice. I’ve been developing with PHP and MySQL for a while so I did think of editing the source to suit my needs but when I looked at it I would have needed a pretty substantial rewrite.

I guess I wanted to try a desktop version of a wiki to see if it would give me (and others) what I’m after. Might be trying to reinvent the wheel though…

Khadrelt, I’ve heard of hypercard but have never seen it in the flesh. I’m relatively new to Mac and being only 27 it sounds like it was long before my development days! It does however sound really good and it’s a pity its dead - I guess html and the web killed it off.

Anyway, thanks again for your input - this is such a friendly forum! I don’t know if this idea of mine will bare any fruit (it’s a lot of time i could be writing) but will keep posting for as long as I keep musing

PS will look into voodoopad - thanks for the tip :smiley: Though like you i prefer the structure of html/wikiML

I’ve been making a dictionary for a fictional language I’m constructing, in DevonThink Pro, using DTPro’s table database function (which it calls “sheets”). DTPro also has wiki-style linking and allows you to export documents as webpages. If you’re looking for ideas for features to build into your project, you could do worse than to download DTPro’s free trial.


Thanks AJ

I’ve heard a lot of people plugging DTP so I finally managed to give the trial a spin. It’s not a bad program and it’s got some features that I like though I had something a bit more tailored in mind. Thanks for the tip.


A powerful app you might look at is Storyspace. It is published by Eastgate (the makers of Tinderbox) and is available for Mac OS and Windows. The demo looks good but its price has kept me from buying it: $295


Thanks Franz, it’s quite a good program and is almost what I imagined. Like you I reckon the price is a little steep though!



Bit late to be adding this in, I know, but I think you might want to check out Twine since it has not been mentioned. There is a GUI for Windows and Mac that you can get the Source for through the Twine Project.

The same project also spawned Twee, which is the command line version of Twine – better for things like writing Interactive Fiction, where the user is presented with a prompt like “What do you do?” And has an open ended response options.

Crikey I forgot about this thread a long, long time ago.

I never bothered with the original intention of the thread. For years since, I’ve used VoodooPad and have slowly migrated to using multimarkdown and a bunch of shell scripts for automation.

I know I am also late to this game, but I’ve found a MediaWiki is excellent for world building.
Also it is fairly painless to set up on a Mac or PC, with AMP packages.
Take one older PC, load a flavor of Linux (Free), once linux is loaded install LAMP, then add MediaWiki and presto you have a Wiki server. OR If you have a Web site host, most of them have easy setups to add a wiki to your Web site.
You can lock the Wiki down so the administrator has to build you an account, even to view the site. The nice thing about an actually web hosted site, you can get to it from anywhere you happen to be and you can get several of your trusted friends can assist you with input, proof reading, and other tasks, while you are doing other tasks.

The nice thing which using MediaWiki, it is the engine behind Wikipedia, so it is active hive mind development. It is also Free, pretty robust, and linking is as easy as [[topic]].

I’ve actually used Scrivener to build the pages off line and then drop them onto the site.
They way I also have a backup incase everything goes to Hades in a hat basket. (No that never happens) This also gives me the ability to set up and use Scrivener’s Template Sheets, to make standard style sheets for Worlds, Place, People, and items.

Now there is an idea, and import/export tool from Scrivener to MediaWiki, so you can proto type in Scrivener and publish MediaWiki and the Scrivener links, become Wiki links.

Crikey, this thread won’t die.

Actually, MediaWiki was what I first experimented with before moving to VoodooPad. It left me cold despite being great software, I just though it was overkill for personal projects and I’ve never liked writing in a browser…

I loved VoodooPad because it was great software; a personal wiki with excellent markdown and scripting support. It’s died a death though with Gus selling to a company that’s done nothing with it since so I can’t bring myself to rely on it any more.

Since late 2013 I’ve tried (and perhaps failed) to move 100% to desktop Linux. In the move, I switched exclusively to MultiMarkdown for my world building files. I use Python for automation and to create simple UIs (with Tkinter) for entering text, much like creating Word VBA macros back in the day.

Even though I’m be drifting (fast) back to iOS and the Mac, turns out that this was the best choice because MultiMarkdown and Python work everywhere I care about including iOS (thanks to Editorial). I keep the files in Dropbox and can edit them using the apps I prefer on the device I happen to be using. Everything I create: characters, locations, organisations etc, is template based and stored in a directory structure. With some nerdish modelling (inspired by D&D rulebooks and historical data) I can even generate cities and towns and even whole countries on the fly that make for great starting points or as drop in scenery.

Because the content is all markdown it’s very easy to turn it into a website, PDF document or just drag what I need into Scrivener. Creating or using a dedicated app for it just wasn’t worth the effort when I could cobble together the guts of my workflow with the utilities built in to the OS.

I’m playing around with using OneNote. I know it’s neither open source, nor hyptertext, but I can use it locally or via OneDrive, on my mobile or desktop, across platforms, and just focus on writing the content instead of how it is constructed. So far, so good.

I know people who swear by OneNote and I like that you say it lets you just focus on the writing.

Do you use it for world building?

I’m experimenting with it now.