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1 TWiki CGI and Command Line Scripts

Programs on the TWiki server performing actions such as rendering, saving and renaming topics.

The TWiki scripts are located in the twiki/bin and twiki/tools directories. This topic describes the interfaces to some of those scripts. All scripts in the twiki/bin directory can be called from the CGI (Common Gateway Interface) environment or from the command line. The scripts in the twiki/tools directory can only be called from the command line.

CGI Scripts

Details on CGI scripts located in the twiki/bin directory.

General Information

CGI environment

In the CGI environment parameters are passed to the scripts via the URL and URL parameters. Environment variables are also used to determine the user performing the action. If the environment is not set up, the default TWiki user is used (usually guest).


You must be cd'd to the twiki/bin directory to run the scripts from the command line. To avoid issues with file permissions, run the scripts as the web server user such as nobody or www.

Parameters are passed using '-name' - for example,

$ cd /usr/local/twiki/bin
$ save -topic MyWeb.MyTopic -user admin -action save -text "New text of the topic"
All parameters require a value.

Common parameters

All the scripts accept a number of common parameters. The first two components of the URL after the script name are taken as the web and the topic, respectively. Standard URL parameters are:

Parameter Description Default
topic If this is set to a URL, TWiki will immediately redirect to that URL. Otherwise it overrides the URL and is taken as the topic name (you can pass Web.TopicName)  
user Command-line only; set the name of the user performing the action. Note: this usage is inherently insecure, as it bypasses webserver login constraints. For this reason only authorised users should be allowed to execute scripts from the command line.  
skin Overrides the default skin path (see TWikiSkins)  
cover Specifies temporary skin path to prepend to the skin path for this script only (see TWikiSkins)  


Despite the name, this script doesn't actually attach a file to a topic - for that, use upload. This script is part of the transactions sequence executed when a file is uploaded from the browser. it just generates the "new attachment" page for a topic.

Parameter Description Default
filename Name of existing attachment (if provided, this is a "manage attachment" action) none (in which case this is a "new attachment" action)


Shows all the changes in the given web.

The changes script can receive one parameter:

Parameter Description Default
minor If 0, show only major changes. If 1, show all the changes (both minor and major) 0

The main difference between invoking this script and using WebChanges is that WebChanges is based on a %SEARCH%, while this script reads the changes file in each web, making it much faster.

NOTE: The result from changes script and the topic WebChanges can be different, if the changes file is deleted from a web. In particular, in new installations the changes script will return no results while the WebChanges topic will.


configure is the browser script used for inspection and configuration of the TWiki configuration. None of the parameters to this script are useable for any purpose except configure.


The edit scipt understands the following parameters, typically supplied by HTML input fields:

Parameter Description Default
action Optional. Use the editaction template instead of the standard edit. If action=text, then hide the form. If action=form hide the normal text area and only edit the form.  
onlynewtopic If set, error if topic already exists  
onlywikiname If set, error if topic name is not a WikiWord  
templatetopic The name of the template topic, copied to get the initial content  
text Initial text for the topic  
topicparent The parent topic  
formtemplate Name of the form to instantiate in the topic. Overrides the form set in the templatetopic if defined.  
contenttype Optional parameter that defines the application type to write into the CGI header. Defaults to text/html. May be used to invoke alternative client applications  
anyname Any parameter can passed to the new topic; if the template topic contains %URLPARAM{"anyname"}%, it will be replaced by its value  
breaklock If set, any lease conflicts will be ignored, and the edit will proceed even if someone is already editing the topic.  

Form field values are passed in parameters named 'field' - for example, if I have a field Status the parameter name is Status.

  1. The first sequence of ten or more X characters in the topic name will be converted on save to a number such that the resulting topic name is unique in the target web.

NOTE: most skins support the definition of EDIT_SKIN, which is used as the value of the cover parameter in edit URLs. This allows you to override the default edit skin on a web, topic or user basis.


Used for logging in when TWiki login is being used (e.g TemplateLoginManager).
Parameter Description Default
origurl URL that was being accessed when an access violation occurred. the login process will redirect to this URL if it is successful none
username username of user logging in none
password password of user logging in none


Used for logging in when Web Server authentication is being used (e.g. ApacheLoginManager). The script does nothing; it is purely a placeholder for triggering the login process. The webserver will be set up to require a valid user to access this script, thus triggering the webserver login process.


Performs a range of management functions.
Parameter Description Default
action One of createweb, deleteUserAccount, editSettings or saveSettings none


Parameter Description Default
newweb Name of the new web ''
baseweb Name of the web to copy to create the new web ''
webbgcolor value for WEBBGCOLOR ''
sitemapwhat Value for SITEMAPWHAT ''
sitemapuseto Value for SITEMAPUSETO ''
nosearchall Value for NOSEARCHALL ''


Unregisters (removes) the currently logged-in user.
Parameter Description Default
password Users' password none


No parameters


See BulkRegistration.
Parameter Description Default
OverwriteHomeTopics Whether to overwrite existing home topics or not false
EmailUsersWithDetails Whether to mail registered users or not false
LogTopic Topic to save the log in Same as topic name, with 'Result' appended.


Parameter Description Default
text Text of the topic ''
originalrev Revision that the edit started on Most recent revision
All other parameters may be interpreted as form fields, depending on the current form definition in the topic.


This script is mainly used for rendering pages containing error messages, though it is also used for some functional actions such as manage pages (move topic etc).

oops templates are used with the oops script to generate system messages. This is done to make internationalisation or other local customisations simple.

The oops script supports the following parameters:

Parameter Description Default
template Name of the template file to display  
def Optional, can be set to the name of a single definition within template. This definition will be instantiated in the template wherever %INSTANTIATE% is seen. This lets you use a single template file for many messages. For an example, see oopsmanagebad.tmpl.  
paramN Where N is an integer from 1 upwards. These values will be substituted into template for %PARAM1% etc.  


Parameter Description Default
action one of changePassword or resetPassword none
Other parameters as described under manage, action=changePassword.


Parameter Description Default
username Username  
oldpassword Existing password (plain text)  
password New password (plain text)  
passwordA New password confirmation (plain text)  
TopicName ?  


This script is deprecated. Its functions are covered by the save script.


Renders the differences between version of a TWiki topic

Parameter Description Default
rev1 the higher revision  
rev2 the lower revision  
render the rendering style {sequential, sidebyside, raw, debug} DIFFRENDERSTYLE, sequential
type {history, diff, last} history diff, version to version, last version to previous diff
context number of lines of context  
  • add a {word} render style


Parameter Description Default
action register or verify or resetPassword or approve  


Used for renaming topics.

Parameter Description Default
skin skin(s) to use  
newweb new web name  
newtopic new topic name  
confirm if defined, requires a second level of confirmation  
currentwebonly if defined, searches current web only for links to this topic  
nonwikiword if defined, a non-wikiword is acceptable for the new topic name  


Reset the password for a single or multiple users
Parameter Description Default
LoginName list of usernames to reset none - error if not set
Introduction message to be sent alongside the reset, most often used to announce to the user that they have been given an account. ''

This is used by BulkResetPassword and ResetPassword. Only users belonging to the TWikiAdminGroup can provide a list of LoginNames, non-admins can only provide a single LoginName.

BulkRegistration provides the means to create multiple accounts but it does not announce those accounts to the users who own them. BulkResetPassword is used to assign the passwords, the Introduction is used to explain why they are receiving the mail.


This REST (Representational State Transfer) script can be invoked via http in a similar way as the view script (see Invocation Examples, below) to execute a function that is associated to a "subject" and a "verb" (see below). It'll print the result directly to the stream unless the endPoint parameter is specified, in which case the control is redirected to the given topic.

The rest script itself uses one parameter:

endPoint Where to redirect the response once the request is served, in the form "Web.Topic"

Any additional parameters are passed directly to the function (i.e: The function can get any other parameter using the CGI $query object)

Invocation Examples

The rest script assumes that it will be called with URL in the form:


where <subject> must be the WikiWord name of one of the installed TWikiPlugins, and the <verb> is the alias for the function registered using the registerRESTHandler. The <subject> and <verb> are then used to lookup and call the registered function.

Functions outside the Plugins also can be registered, but please consider the security implications of allowing URL access, as functions can sidestep TWiki Authentication & Authorisation settings.

<subject> and <verb> are checked for illegal characters exactly in the same way as the web and topic names.

As an example, the EmptyPlugin has registered a function to be used with the rest script under the subject EmptyPlugin and the verb example. Click below to see the rest script in action (run as TWikiGuest).

Call the Plugin

You can also call the function from the command line, but this will be run as the TWikiAdminGroup (as it is assumed that shell access is secure) - eg:

./rest EmptyPlugin.example

Note that for calls to Plugins, they must be enabled in configure.


The save script performs a range of save-related functions, as selected by the action parameter.

Parameter Description DefaultSorted ascending
action_save=1 default; save, return to view, dontnotify is OFF  
action_quietsave=1 save, and return to view, dontnotify is ON  
action_checkpoint save and redirect to the edit script, dontnotify is ON  
action_cancel exit without save, return to view  
action_preview preview edited text  
action_addform Redirect to the "change form" page.  
action_replaceform... Redirect to the "change form" page.  
action_delRev Administrators only delete the most recent revision of the topic - all other parameters are ignored. You have to be a member of TWikiAdminGroup to use this, and not all store implementations will support it.  
action_repRev Administrators only replace the text of the most recent revision of the topic with the text in the text parameter. text must included embedded meta-data tags. All other parameters are ignored. You have to be a member of TWikiAdminGroup to use this, and not all store implementations will support it.  
onlynewtopic If set, error if topic already exists  
onlywikiname If set, error if topic name is not a WikiWord  
dontnotify if defined, suppress change notification  
templatetopic Name of a topic to use as a template for the text and form  
text New text of the topic  
forcenewrevision if set, forces a revision even if TWiki thinks one isn't needed  
topicparent If 'none' remove any current topic parent. If the name of a topic, set the topic parent to this.  
formtemplate if defined, use the named template for the form  
editaction When action is checkpoint, add form or replace form..., this is used as the action parameter to the edit script that is redirected to after the save is complete.  
originalrev Revision on which the edit started.  

Any errors will cause a redirect to an oops page.

The parameters are interpreted in according to the following rules.

  1. The first sequence of ten or more X characters in the topic name will be converted to a number such that the resulting topic name is unique in the target web.
  2. When the action is save, checkpoint, quietsave, or preview:
    1. The new text is taken from the text parameter, if it is defined,
      • otherwise it is taken from the templatetopic, if it is defined,
      • otherwise it is taken from the previous version of the topic, if any,
    2. The name of the new form is taken from the formtemplate, if defined
      • otherwise it is taken from the templatetopic, if defined,
      • otherwise it is taken from the previous version of the topic, if any,
      • otherwise no form is attached.
    3. The value for each field in the form is taken from the query, if it is defined
      • otherwise it is taken from the templatetopic, if defined,
      • otherwise it is taken from the previous version of the topic, if any,
      • otherwise it defaults to the empty string.

Merging is only enabled if the topic text comes from text and originalrev is > 0 and is not the same as the revision number of the most recent revision. If merging is enabled both the topic and the meta-data are merged.

Form field values are passed in parameters named 'field' - for example, if I have a field Status the parameter name is Status.


CGI gateway to the %SEARCH% functionality driven by the following CGI parameters:

Parameter: Description: Default:
"text" Search term. Is a keyword search, literal search or regular expression search, depending on the type parameter. SearchHelp has more required
search="text" (Alternative to above) N/A
web="Main, Know"
Comma-separated list of webs to search. See TWikiVariables#VarSEARCH for more details. Current web
Limit search to topics: A topic, a topic with asterisk wildcards, or a list of topics separated by comma. All topics in a web
excludetopic="WebHome, WebChanges"
Exclude topics from search: A topic, a topic with asterisk wildcards, or a list of topics separated by comma. None
Do a keyword search like soap "web service" -shampoo; a literal search like web service; or RegularExpression search like soap;web service;!shampoo %SEARCHVAR- DEFAULTTYPE% preferences setting (literal)
Search topic name (title); the text (body) of topic; or all (both) "text"
Sort the results of search by the topic names, topic creation time, last modified time, last editor, or named field of TWikiForms. The sorting is done web by web; in case you want to sort across webs, create a formatted table and sort it with TablePlugin's initsort Sort by topic name
Limit the number of results returned. This is done after sorting if order is specified All results
date="..." limits the results to those pages with latest edit time in the given TimeInterval. All results
reverse="on" Reverse the direction of the search Ascending search
casesensitive="on" Case sensitive search Ignore case
bookview="on" BookView search, e.g. show complete topic text Show topic summary
nonoise="on" Shorthand for nosummary="on" nosearch="on" nototal="on" zeroresults="off" noheader="on" noempty="on" Off
nosummary="on" Show topic title only Show topic summary
nosearch="on" Suppress search string Show search string
noheader="on" Suppress search header
Topics: Changed: By:
Show search header
nototal="on" Do not show number of topics found Show number
zeroresults="off" Suppress all output if there are no hits zeroresults="on", displays: "Number of topics: 0"
noempty="on" Suppress results for webs that have no hits. Show webs with no hits
Custom format results: see FormattedSearch for usage, variables & examples Results in table
expandvariables="on" Expand variables before applying a FormattedSearch on a search hit. Useful to show the expanded text, e.g. to show the result of a SpreadSheetPlugin %CALC{}% instead of the formula Raw text
multiple="on" Multiple hits per topic. Each hit can be formatted. The last token is used in case of a regular expression ";" and search Only one hit per topic
nofinalnewline="on" If on, the search variable does not end in a line by itself. Any text continuing immediately after the search tag on the same line will be rendered as part of the table generated by the search, if appropriate. off
separator=", " Line separator between hits Newline "$n"


Refresh the WebStatistics topics in range of webs.
Parameter Description Default
webs list of webs to run stats on none


Single-script interface to the functionality of all the other scripts. Experimental, not for production use. Read the code if you want to know more.


Uploads an attachment to a topic. The HTTP request is expected to be in multipart/form-data format.
Parameter Description Default
hidefile if defined, will not show file in attachment table  
filepath local (client) path name of the file being uploaded. This is used to look up the data for the file in the HTTP query.  
filename deprecated, do not use  
filecomment Comment to associate with file in attachment table  
createlink if defined, will create a link to file at end of topic  
changeproperties if defined, this is a property change operation only - no file will be uploaded. null

You can use a tool like curl to upload files from the command line using this script.


Used for viewing topics.

Parameter Description Default
raw=on Shows the text of the topic in a scrollable textarea  
raw=debug As raw=on, but also shows the metadata (forms etc) associated with the topic.  
raw=text Shows only the source of the topic, as plain text (Content-type: text/plain). Only shows the body text, not the form or other meta-data.
raw=all Shows only the source of the topic, as plain text (Content-type: text/plain), with embedded meta-data. This may be useful if you want to extract the source of a topic to a local file on disc.  
contenttype Allows you to specify a different Content-Type: (e.g. contenttype=text/plain)  
rev Revision to view (e.g. rev=45)  
template Allows you to specify a different skin template, overriding the 'view' template the view script would normally use. The default template is view. For example, you could specify /twiki/bin/view/TWiki/TWikiScripts?template=edit. This is mainly useful when you have specialised templates for a TWiki Application.  

ALERT! For historical reasons, the view script has a special interpretation of the text skin. In earlier TWiki versions the skin=text parameter was used like this: http://.../view/MyWeb/MyTopic?skin=text&contenttype=text/plain&raw=on which shows the topic as plain text; useful for those who want to download plain text for the topic. Using skin=text this way is DEPRECATED, use raw=text instead.


Used for viewing attachments. Normally, a site will publish the attachments (pub) directory using a URL. However if it contains sensitive information, you will want to protect attachments using TWikiAccessControls. In this case, you can use the viewfile script to give access to attachments while still checking access controls.

Parameter Description Default
filename name of attachment  
rev Revision to view  

Command Line Scripts

Details on command line scripts located in the twiki/tools directory.


This is a very simple script to get the content of a web site. It is marked as deprecated and might be removed (or enhanced) in a future TWiki release. Its functions are covered by the standard wget and curl commands.
  • Usage: geturl <host> <path> [<port> [<header>]]
  • Example: geturl some.domain /some/dir/file.html 80
  • Will get: http://some.domain:80/some/dir/file.html


Simple script to rewrite the #!/usr/bin/perl shebang lines specific to your local Perl installation. It will rewrite the first line of all your TWiki cgi scripts so they use a different shebang line. Use it if your perl is in a non-standard location, or you want to use a different interpreter (such as 'speedy').


This script executes a number of non-essential regular administration tasks that will help keep your TWiki healthy and happy, such as removing expired sessions and lease files.

It is intended to be run as a cron job or a scheduled task once a week. Example crontab entry:
0 0 * * 0 cd /usr/twiki/bin && perl ../tools/tick_twiki.pl

Note: The script has to be run by a user who can write files created by the webserver user.

Related Topics: AdminDocumentationCategory, DeveloperDocumentationCategory

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Topic revision: r2 - 2005-03-27 - TWikiContributor
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