wikicurses: Information, in brief

If you remember back to wikipedia2text from a couple of months ago, you might have seen where ids1024 left a note about wikicurses, which intends to do something similar.

2014-12-29-jsgqk71-wikicurses-linux

Ordinarily I use most as a $PAGER and it might look like most is working there, but it’s not. That’s the “bundled” pager, with the title of the wikipedia page at the top, and the body text formatted down the space of the terminal.

wikicurses has a few features that I like in particular. Color, of course, and the screen layout are good. I like that the title of the page is placed at the topmost point, and in a fixed position. Score points for all that.

Further, wikicurses can access (to the best of my knowledge) just about any MediaWiki site, and has hotkeys to show a table of contents, or to bookmark pages. Most navigation is vi-style, but you can use arrow keys and page up/down rather than the HJKL-etc. keys.

Pressing “o” gives you a popup search box, and pressing tab while in that search box will complete a term — which is a very nice touch. There are a few other commands, accessible mostly through :+term formats, much like you’d see in vi. Press “q” to exit.

From the command line you can feed wikicurses a search term or a link. You can also jump straight to a particular feed — like Picture of the Day or whatever the site offers. If you hit a disambiguation page, you have the option to select a target and move to that page, sort of like you see here.

2014-12-29-jsgqk71-wikicurses-disambiguation

That’s a very nice way to solve the issue.

There are a couple of things that wikicurses might seem to lack. First, short of re-searching a term, there’s no real way to navigate forward or back through pages. Perhaps that is by design, since adding that might make wikicurses more of an Internet browser than just a data-access tool.

It does make things a little clumsy, particularly if you’ve “navigated” to the wrong page and just want to work back to correct your mistake.

In the same way, pulling page from Wikipedia and displaying it in wikicurses removes any links that were otherwise available. So if you’re tracking family histories or tracing the relationships between evil corporate entities, you’ll have to search, read, then search again, then read again, then search again, then. …

But again, if you’re after a tool to navigate the site, you should probably look into something different. As best I can tell, wikicurses is intended as a one-shot page reader, and not a full-fledged browser, so limiting its scope might be the best idea.

There are a couple of other minor points I would suggest. wikicurses might offer the option to use your $PAGER, rather than its built-in format. I say that mostly because there are minor fillips that a pager might offer — like, for example, page counts or text searching — that wikicurses doesn’t approach.

But wikicurses is a definite step up from wikipedia2text. And since wikicurses seems to know its focus and wisely doesn’t step too far beyond it, it’s worth keeping around for one-shot searches or for specialized wikis that don’t warrant full-scale browser searches. Or for times like nowadays, when half of Wikipedia’s display is commandeered by a plea for contributions. …🙄😡

6 thoughts on “wikicurses: Information, in brief

  1. Pingback: wiki-stream: Less than six degrees of separation | Inconsolation

  2. ids1024

    There was no reason not to allow going back and forward in history, so I added that functionality. I just hadn’t thought of that.

      1. K.Mandla Post author

        Thanks, I hope that doesn’t make it too much like a browser. I like the popup links option, by the way. Cheers and thanks again for the tip!🙂

  3. Pingback: wiki-stream: Less than six degrees of separation | Linux Admins

  4. Pingback: html2wikipedia: Converting back and forth | Inconsolation

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