Obsidian Review

Obsidian is a powerful and extensible knowledge base that works on top of your local folder of plain text files. When I was using it, I had it working on my iPad, iPhone and Windows PC. I will be going over my time whilst using the application to manage my markdown files.

Obsidian is a text editor that is available on any of your devices including Linux via an AppImage, Snap and Flatpak. It has a myriad of users on their subreddit, discord server, and forum.

There are a few things that makes Obsidian unique. First is that it is a local-first file editor. This means that their sync service for $8/month USD is not something that is necessary. Especially since there are free to use plugins like Obsidian Git which is able to sync your files to GitHub for you so that you can sync them via GitHub to your Android Phone, Tablet, iPhone, or any other device. If you want to read how to use this software, I recommend this tutorial hosted on GitHub. It requires a bit of knowledge on programming.

This is something you have to think about whilst using Obsidian. It requires a bit of programming knowledge as well as a lot of fiddling with plugins and settings to get it set up exactly how you want it. Other programs like UpNote do not require much set up before you can get started taking notes.

Even though it requires a bit of setup, it has 964 plugins created by their community as of the date of this post. You can get Obsidian to do almost anything from embedding YouTube videos using a combination of HTML and markdown as well as connecting obsidian to read-it-later providers like Pocket & Instapaper among other things. Speaking of, it can connect Things 3 or Todoist to your notes via Obsidian Things 3 Sync or a few different Todoist Plugins. If you view their plugins directory, you can add any of their plugins directly to Obsidian by clicking “Open in Obsidian”.

There is also a built-in plugin viewer and you can read more about using it in Obsidian’s Help Docs.

Another thing that a lot of people like, is how Obsidian has a public roadmap for anyone to look at. The roadmap advises what they have released (”shipped”), what is ready for the next release, and what they are planning on working on in the future. A lot of companies keep this private because it can cause a lot of questions about why X feature is not being worked on or why Y feature is taking so long and this is not something they want to deal with. The only two companies, I know that do this are Obsidian and Bitwarden. This is not very common.

The last thing I wanted to bring up is the typing experience on Obsidian. The only app that I have found that has an equal typing experience is UpNote. You can hide all of the sidebars in Obsidian so that all you can see is the notes that you are actively typing. It has back links which are links to other notes as well as the ability to import sections of previous notes as a type of quote so you can reference specific paragraphs, words, or just the entire note in the current note you are typing. It also includes what they call “front matter” which is short values you put at the very beginning of your note so that when you use a plugin like Dataview you can create a note that tracks habits or whatever you would like to track through all of your notes.

It is one of the most flexible typing and creative experiences I have found in a note-taking app and is worth a shot for anyone who is willing to learn its steep learning curve.

In conclusion, I believe Obsidian is worth it if you are willing to put up with fiddling and things not working exactly as you believe they should. I have found that Obsidian is one of the best note-taking apps out there. I use it to draft up my blogs (as you can see in the picture above) as well as journal and write out any and all of my notes. Obsidian is my go to note-taking app. Since I have gotten used to all of its quirks it has really helped increase my productivity since I have started using it. It is also my go to task management app. I use [[Things 3 Review|Things 3]] for reminders and any projects that are just lists of simple tasks but most of my projects (like applying for jobs as I am right now) are stored in Obsidian. An example of a project is shown below. I use the Kanban Plugin with the AnuPpuccin Theme with the Style Settings Plugin to get this look. This is how I stay organized and on top of my applications.

I also have a Dataview page which is shown below. I can see any pages that are linked by the above page (in my Applications folder) that have a tag #todo which are pages that have something I need to check back on for one reason or another.
Then I have another query that displays any Applications that I haven’t followed up on within the last 7 days. So once day 7 hits it displays those on the table and then keeps them there until the lastUpdated date in the YAML front matter gets updated.

Unfortunately, that has to be done manually. Though the benefit of this is that I am not relying on the Dataview plugin. Therefore if it doesn’t get updated by the developer for one reason or another, I can still function and my process doesn’t break.

This is the biggest thing I can recommend for anyone attempting to use Obsidian. Make sure you can function with just the base software or even without the software at all. That way if the software or any plugins don’t get updated for one reason or another, you are not screwed. Also, make sure you have a good backup solution. Backup ≠ Sync. This means just because you sync files between devices (possibly with Obsidian Sync) does not mean you are backing up the files. I, personally, use GitHub to sync my vaults between devices. On my iPhone & iPad I use the app Working Copy (which has a fantastic dev) and on my Windows PC I use Obsidian Git. To enable this I renamed my .obsidian directory in the Settings pane on my iPhone & iPad to .obsidianios

Also, you can see the plugins I used on my blog’s vault when this was written. Now I use these plugins:

It is recommended to keep your list of plugins short that way if a plugin developer ever stops developing their plugin (for whatever reason) your not left in the dark with broken notes. So I keep all plugins on all vaults to a minimum and go through them once a week to make sure I do not have any installed that I don’t need.

Anyway, renaming the obsidian config folder/directory on my iPhone & iPad is annoying when there are items I want to be the same on both BUT it allows me to have plugins that don’t work on my iPhone or iPad not show up on my iPhone or iPad. Plus, I can set up visual differences between the two operating systems for the different size of screens. I don’t have visual differences but it is nice that I can.

Obsidian is really extensive on what it allows you to do. Which is why I am updating my blog about My Productivity Setup which will be linked when it is completed. I want to make sure it includes the most up-to-date information as well as brief reviews on all of the applications I use.

Anyway, I hope you like this! I hope this helps you at all. 😸

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