a gitit front end for multiple research repositories

I switched a long time ago now to keeping all of my research, course notes, general reading notes, brainstorming notes, etc. in plain text files. I write them using the pandoc variant of markdown. And, I use Mercurial or Git to keep the repositories synced to Bitbucket. These are private repositories, but following on Caleb McDaniel’s open history experiement, I’ve been experimenting with using Gitit locally as a front end for one of my projects. It is based on pandoc, and essentially provides a wiki interface to a set of text files that are written in pandoc.

The most recent release of Gitit allows users to specify the default filetype of pages to be converted in the wiki. Originally, this was set to .page. This was fine for a new project, but I had tons of older repositories with lots of .txt files I didn’t want to change. So, I was excited to get the ability to specify the file type, which means I can use the front end on pre-existing projects filled with many folders and files.

What is more, I can use Gitit’s configuration file to simply spin up a wiki on any of my repos whenever I need or want the kind of search and display features that a wiki provides. I now have a folder named projects that includes all of my various research, teaching, and brainstorming repositories. Each of those repositories is source controlled with Git of Mercurial, and synced using source control to a repo on bitbucket:


and so forth.

In the conf folder, I have all the files needed for Gitit, including configuration files for each of the repos:


Using the configuration files, I can point Gitit to one set of static files and templates, one log file, and the appropriate repository of files for whatever I’m looking for. To do that, I change the default configuration file to search for the project folder, instead of the default wikidata folder Gitit usually uses. Then, at any point when I need to search for things have a different front end that the terminal window, I’ll spin up a wiki from the Projects folder with this command:

gitit -f conf/repoName.conf

I like this very much, because I’m not tied to Gitit’s default folder or filetype structure, I can work in my repositories the way I’m accustomed to, and still get the benefit of a wiki whenever I want it. Easy to do. Works like a charm.


Associate Professor of Early Latin America Department of History University of Tennessee-Knoxville

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Chad Black

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