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[emacs-wiki-discuss] New faces =)

From: Markus Hoenicka
Subject: [emacs-wiki-discuss] New faces =)
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 21:15:35 +0100

Sacha Chua writes:
 > A good start would probably be a short description of what you're doing
 > with emacs-wiki, planner and/or remember, and what you would like to be
 > able to do with those tools. =)

First of all, thanks to Sacha for maintaining this wonderful piece of
software. Once I got used to it I couldn't imagine how to get
organized without it.

Here's a short description of how I (ab)use planner. I'm running a
biomedical lab, and I've figured out a way to use planner to schedule
my experiments and to abuse it as a kind of electronic lab
journal. Each of my research projects has its own planner page. Each
project is subdivided into subprojects and sub-subprojects, with as
many levels as required. The "leafs" of this structure are individual
experiments. These are special planner pages that basically contain a
description of the experiment, the required resources, the schedule
and so on - and of course the tasks that should be performed. I
publish these pages as HTML and hand them out to my technicians. They
like to abuse the printed sheets to write down experimental details
which they later transfer into their (still dead-tree) lab
journals. Once the experiment is finished, I add a brief description of
the results and links to the electronic data to the planner page,
publish it again, and attach the sheet to a printout of the evaluated
results (graphs, tables, whatever). As each experiment gets an unique
name (usually based on the day and one or two keywords describing the
experiment), it is easy to return from the printout to the electronic
version if necessary.

A big plus is that the data are accessible to the standard Unix tools
to unearth information. E.g. this week I had to find out on which date
we first ran an experiment using bovine veins. In a dead-tree lab
journal you'd have to browse for an age and a half, but with planner
it is a matter of a single grep command. Way cool.

As the projects, subprojects, subsubprojects... and experiments are
strictly hierarchical, I soon started to add hierarchical backlinks to
my planner pages in order to simplify navigation within a
project. Eventually I came up with a patch for emacs-wiki.el which
inserts these backlinks automatically (I've announced this on this
list but it didn't stir up too much attention). Additionally, I wanted
to have an overview over my planned tasks that allows me to see a week
or a month of work in a glimpse. I developed a Perl script which
extracts the information from planner day pages and creates a HTML
tasklist. For me this is the most heavily used interface to planner

To make matters even more convenient, I also came up with a Perl
script which uses the backlinks in my planner pages to create an XML
mind map viewable with FreeMind. This turned out to be extremely
valuable, as you can see an overview over all your projects, but you
can also unfold each subproject until you see all individual
experiments. Needless to say, the nodes in the mind map are clickable
and open the corresponding planner page in a web browser.

In case anyone is interested in this add-on stuff, please check out:


I understand that this kind of use is probably pretty close to the
edge of what planner was designed for. However, it is the flexibility
and simplicity of the data which allow everyone to use or abuse
planner the way she needs to. I'd be a lot more confused than I am
anyway without planner.

Just my 2c.


Markus Hoenicka
(Spam-protected email: replace the quadrupeds with "mhoenicka")

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