cliwiki: Needing attention

I try to be as honest as possible when I look over software. If it seems like I’m too-often enthusiastic about programs, it’s probably because the ones that were less than gratifying were cast aside out of frustration.

I’ll list cliwiki though, since I sense it has a little potential, and a tool that pulls pages from Wikipedia is worth pursuing.


I don’t recall where I got the link to cliwiki, but my assessment is that it needs more attention. Here’s why:

  • The few arguments cliwiki claims to support produce nothing. The home page suggests potd, featured and onthisday, but none of those generates any different results.
  • cliwiki requires you answer a prompt to trigger the search. You can’t tack on the topic as a command line argument.
  • cliwiki incorporates no pager, and because of the prompt, it’s exceedingly difficult to page or redirect the output of very long pages.
  • Because of those shortcomings, I’ve tried to funnel cliwiki into text files with the standard > mark or a pipe symbol, but the prompt confounds things. I get half-formed pages or worse, lockups. For what it’s worth I’ve also tried to echo my search topic into a text file and use < and xargs in one fashion or another, with no real success.

All of this means to me that cliwiki is only half-formed, and partially useful on pages that don’t overflow your terminal window. I daresay on very shallow screens it will be nigh-on useless.

cliwiki does do some things right; I like that it lists links at the end of the page, and adds links to images in the text. But cliwiki still needs a bit more work before it’s functional, either to the degree it promises or to a point of usability.