I’ve only barely scratched the surface of what it can be made to do with plug-in extensions, but so far I’m really loving the note-taking software Obsidian .
What I had been doing in my old notes app was creating a daily journal entry, adding random thoughts and bits and pieces over the day, and occasionally spinning out a thought into a separate note if it got long enough to justify it. Obsidian works really well for this – it has a “core plugin” for daily notes, and another for templates (so each daily note can be pre-filled with all the fields I want it to have), and there’s a “community plugin” for a calendar view which is the only community plugin I’ve installed so far. So far, so good.
On top of that though, it has the in-built easy linking between notes. Oh man, this is great. As I slowly and manually transfer my old entries to this new app,1 what this means is that if, for example, I notice I’ve recorded some useful tidbit about Hugo, I can copy it to my clipboard, put double square brackets around the word “Hugo” to make it
[[Hugo]], which linkifies it (even if the page doesn’t exist yet), click the link and paste my tidbit easily. “Well duh,” you might think, “that’s how a wiki works.” I know it is, but it’s the integration of that approach into what is otherwise a notes app (with a daily journal attached) that is really clicking for me. I’m thinking that once I’m done with my journal + related notes, I might import a copy of (many of) my blog posts too, because there’d also be bits of knowledge there I’d like integrated with my non-public notes. Because I can put the notes in folders, it’s not like they’ll muddle up everything else. And because Obsidian itself is really just kind of a CMS over the top of a directory of markdown files (subdirectories included, recursively), it’s really simple to import things that are already plain markdown files.
What I also like is how there are so many ways to link notes aside from manually linking. For example, there’s a pane with backlinks, so I can get a quick list of all the notes that link to my current note. If I scroll down, I can also see the notes that mention the name of my current note but are not linked, and with a single click I can turn those mentions into links – making it simple to “backfill” links when I make a new page. There are also tags. In my old notes app, I made extensive use of tags because it was pretty much the only way to group related notes together. In Obsidian I haven’t really had to because it’s so easy to link content in other ways.
I know there are all kinds of complicated things that Obsidian can be made to do, by setting YAML front-matter in notes and querying it using the Dataview plugin for example… but I’m gonna kick that can down the road for now, haha. It’s a cool feature but I’ve got enough to grapple with for the moment.
Another thing that I’m hoping happens is that, with the ease of adding to existing wiki pages in Obsidian, I find it easier to bring some of that content to my personal wiki on my site. It just seems way easier to draft in Obsidian, then convert all the wiki links to markdown links to my webpages for Hugo. At the moment I mostly have isolated pages that don’t make many connections to one another (although to be fair to me, I don’t have that many pages yet either, haha), which is a situation that I want to improve. The nature of a wiki is such that I wouldn’t want to limit it to only highly polished, “finished” pages being pushed to my site… but there are definitely a bunch (stubs, or ones where I’m like “this is my understanding but idk I’m no expert maybe not”) that are better off not being made public yet, too.
And for what it’s worth, I’m finding that I don’t really mind how slow this process is either, because it’s giving me the chance to revisit old notes and link together pieces of knowledge that I recorded over the weeks into unified, coherent pages on those topics. ↩︎