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Last post Author Topic: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten  (Read 222093 times)

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1000 on: February 03, 2022, 11:47 AM »
Funny that there are people selling products in the 1000s of $ to teach you how to organize your notes.
Stunning. Happened with Roam as well, not sure about other apps though one poster from Obsidian seemed to have a least a bit of a go at a Logseq market.

What disturbs me about it, is who has that sort of money to spare for a course about taking notes? The Obsidian community is largely students, and they do have a tendency to watch videos, which is how they reached Obsidian in the first place, or ask for them when they don't understand something. I know there are rich students, but even so.

To be fair, Nick appears to have a reputation for offering something substantial. And his LYT package is available free, and his MoC concept has been helpful to many Obsidian users.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1001 on: February 03, 2022, 11:56 AM »
Zim is written mostly by one dev, Jaap, who is really amazing and dedicated, but has a fulltime job and does zim on his spare time!

I'm not sure that's a disadvantage long-term.
In my experience, the smoothest, most productive programs have been produced by one developer in their spare time, and developed and refined over a very long period. Abstractspoon's ToDoList, The Journal, WriteMonkey. The key being the very long steady development by a developer who uses the program themselves and has a clear vision about its purpose.

It's only when reaching 1000s of notes in zim that I'm starting to value more the advantages of a dynamic graph... with many notes I would love to link them graphically.

I have found one potential problem in zim. Graph view is a second class citizen. It's static (can't filter, search, group etc), it's slow to render (>10s for large graphs), and the lead dev doesn't have plans to make  it better.

The downside is that your needs have to align with those of the developer.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1002 on: February 03, 2022, 12:32 PM »
If you can convince yourself that it doesn't matter, then by all means you an use any browser-based tool for writing... I can't :)

Most of the time, it doesn't matter much to me. I don't need to read as I type (can be distracting) and the latency in my own mind about what words to type would usually be much greater. Most of the time.

But my typical workflow appears to be changing too - for a variety of reasons. Instead of typing into the ultimate target, I'm typing into what I call a writing pad, and then copy/pasting into the target programs. It's something I've often done, because, depending on what I'm doing, I can be quite fussy about my writing environment. I can write in anything but sometimes that interrupts the flow. So, with this, typing lag would be irrelevant, as I wouldn't be writing in it directly.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1003 on: February 03, 2022, 04:55 PM »
Quote from Obsidian forum re conversion issues with markdown lines

I loaded up the CSS snipped and opened Obsidian with the snippet applied. Then I found a long article and copied and pasted it into MS, just to take a look. There were line endings at the ends of paragraphs which I expected. However, since the markdown code would have to be eliminated to use in word, I ran it through a standard online markdown converter to html. When I pasted it back into MS, the line endings were stripped and the paragraphs ran together, which would be a real headache in a long piece of text.
-Rayo, post:14, topic:30851

It sounds very similar to the conversion issue I had going into OPML and back, which means that I need all text (bullet notes) in my Workflowy outlines to be formatted in paragraphs rather than lines. I have systematically tested all the editors and word processors on this machine to see which paste into the Workflowy notes with empty lines between paragraphs (a theoretical paragraph won't cut it if a copy and paste into Workflowy doesn't take it as such). It's a smaller list than I would like - Typora, MarkText, Atlantis, Word - but four is better than none.

When I pasted from WriteMonkey 2.7 after copying in HTML, it was interesting to see <p> at the beginning and </p> at the end, but no <br> at all. The intervening lines showed visually, but I know they'd disappear with another export/import. Nothing on any other copy.

PS
I decided to test Atticus, just to get an idea of how it works. But also thought I'd see how it works with this paragraph/line issue.
And it is very odd indeed.
Copying and pasting from a markdown file that is purely lines results in paragraphs. Those paragraphs past with the necessary spaces into Workflowy.
Pasting markdown paragraphs, double spaces paragraphs in Atticus (and then Workflowy).
But doing the same in Dynalist only produces lines.

I played round quite a lot more using other programs. Copy and Paste is inconsistent between programs.
afaics an exact test of the proposed use case is required to be confident it will work. And the test needs to be in both directions. What I found most surprising is that distinct paragraphs in Workflowy could become concatenated lines on pasting. OPML appears more consistent than copy/paste, which sometimes works best as plaintext and sometimes not.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2022, 06:40 PM by Dormouse »

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1004 on: February 04, 2022, 03:41 PM »
I'm moving more activity into Workflowy and away from markdown/Obsidian.
The original attraction was the kanban/outline toggle which I use frequently.
But it also has wikilinks and editable transclusions (aka Mirror) - Obsidian's transclusionos aren't editable yet.

And then there's writing.
There's paragraphs vs lines. Conversion works, but consistency isn't great. But no glitches at all if I use word processors. I can even write using nested bullets and WPs convert in seconds. And everything needs to end as docx or pdf in the end (all formatters and publishers accept those, but I only know Jutoh accepting markdown), so is there any need for a markdown stage in the process? (I'm not a web writer; I never need HTML.) I will eventually keep plaintext copies; I'll save regular OPML copies; I may or may not actually do the writing in a plaintext editor - it's what I have done for years anyway.

So my point of balance is moving. Partly because of bit of jar in Obsidian workflows; partly because Workflowy seems to have become much more competent over the last year or so.

Dormouse

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Personal concerns about Obsidian's direction of travel
« Reply #1005 on: February 04, 2022, 07:24 PM »
Very uncomfortable with Obsidian's direction (I'll address that in another post).
Very curious, please link here.

My concerns arise from my focus on long-term longevity and having all content safe in plaintext files. My original interest in Obsidian rather than competitor PKM apps, was its emphasis on local files. The picture in my mind was of a managing spider sitting on top of the files. The emphasis being on the primacy of the files. But now what I see is an increasing emphasis on Obsidian with much of the content value being embedded in Obsidian unique workflows.

Files
If files are the long-term repository, then the relationships between parts of the content need to be embedded in the files. This suggests that large markdown files are superior to small ones; Obsidian is biased towards small notes in its design and the plugins do like wise. Tags are generally useful, but links (whether they be wikilinks or markdown) depend on a program to use them; wikilinks would still have a function because they are just text that makes sense in context. A further limit is that full functionality is reserved for .md files, and there is strong resistance to changing that. Personally I always wanted the option of working with .txt files (or indeed any other plaintext format) because all the programs I use will work with .txt files but many won’t open or save .md.

Having everything in local files  is good. But when that everything includes multiple entries in YAML that’s not necessarily the case long-term. Especially if those entries have been made by long-deleted plugins. There’s already been an expansion of the number of json (etc) databases, and that will presumably grow further.

Plugins
Much of Obsidian’s popularity derives from its very active plugin developer scene and the rapidly growing number of plugins (c500 so far). But maintenance of these plugins is frequently less good. Bugs aren’t always dealt with, some appear to have been abandoned and not updated for the latest editor. There’s also a wide variety of approaches to coding and design; this is good for innovation, but not so good for an overall structure that’s easy to understand. I can only see maintenance becoming more of an issue over time.

The same is true of themes, and my impression is that most are not fully functional or don’t work in the new editor. Presumably this will stabilise as theme developers become accustomed to the needs of the new editor.

Community
A Venn diagram of community attributes would probably have central overlaps of Students, Computer Science/Programmers, TTRPG players. I’d hoped that the WYSIWYG development of Live Preview would be used to attract a wider range of users, but it seems there’s little interest in doing that.

The large percentage of students in the community is good for enthusiasm and innovation, and the programming expertise facilitates plugin development. But longer-term, students generally throw off what was fashionable in the previous student generation and the students themselves move on to other, more time-consuming, activities; reliability and ease of use become more important than new and interesting.
In general, my impression is that only a small proportion of the community is strongly attached to local files; many would be quite happy if Obsidian was a database program that could read and save local files.

Glitches and bugs
One of the most impressive aspects of Obsidian in its first year was the speed and quality of development. Features worked well with each other and bugs were quickly addressed. Very impressive for a new program, and contrasted with most of its PKM competitors. But that has changed.

Live Preview has been public for well over a month, and large numbers of bugs are being squashed with every update, only for more to appear. Some of it is trying to accommodate CodeMirror 6 (most other programs using it, like Zettlr, seem still to be on 5), some of it is upstream (the aforementioned CM6 or Electron), some of it is understanding Apple issues (iCloud deleting files, Mac crashes (though these seem reduced now)); other issues from plugins and themes no longer functioning as intended. Time is also needed to check the code of new plugins and themes before they join the community list. Not all the issues are to do with core development, but they all use bandwidth.

My personal experience isn’t that things that don’t work, but that the experience of using Obsidian is rougher than it was when my expectation had been that it would become smoother as little issues were addressed.

Developer resources
I don’t actually know how stretched the developers are. The core developers are a couple with a very young child, but there are also many very active volunteers and plugin developers. However, they have switched Dynalist into maintenance mode because Obsidian is taking all their time, and it feels as if they are fully stretched just keeping all the plates spinning, with little time spare for starting more. And I know that it’s not easy to increase developer resources, even if the money and desire were there. Adding one new person would have a fair chance of reducing output; adding 2, 3 or 4 would force radical change of working practice.

Overall
I feel as if the community is pulling the program in the opposite direction to my own needs, and I don't believe that heavy use of plugins enhances the long-term value of the notes. I don’t have a clear idea of what the program will look like in ten years time, but I’m not convinced it will be more useful or usable. My own approach is to keep things simple and use large markdown files with wikilinks. I use few plugins, none that pollute my notes, mostly simple and straightforward ones, and even then I have most turned off most of the time. I also use Typora and MarkText on files in Obsidian vaults; occasionally Logseq too.

The plugins I do use most of the time include File Info (not in the community yet) - I often have it open on the right so I can see the file stats while I use Typora or MarkText to edit the file in the vault, and txt as md.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2022, 04:14 PM by Dormouse »

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1006 on: February 05, 2022, 05:51 AM »
writing pad
Programs I'm tending to use for this are:
FocusWriter - I've always found it good for this, and it saves as docx odt rtf as well as txt. Will open and save as .md, and can then move headed sections around in the outline; doesn't understand markdown syntax, but that's not an issue for me. No autosave either - was removed a few years ago after some data loss problems.
Typora - I can write into my vaults, with markdown interpreted, & Enter=new paragraph, and will export into a wide variety of formats.
Workflowy - using the bullets. Fairly new to me as a working method, but the bullets are blocks that are easy to rearrange (Roamanesque?); easily transformed into normal text in a word processor, easy to insert images (one image per bullet) - though they don't export as part of the outline.

WriteMonkey still has lots of attractions for writing in long files.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2022, 07:33 AM by Dormouse »

Dormouse

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I hate the concatenation
« Reply #1007 on: February 05, 2022, 10:21 AM »
I copied my recent post on Obsidian and copied it into a Workflowy note. (I'd written it originally in FocusWriter on the basis of a Workflowy outline but didn't want to save it at the time; I'd deleted the Workflowy outline and just wanted to keep it in a note.)
What entered the note was a mass of words; no paragraphs, no lines.
Pasted instead into Atticus, copied and pasted that. Nicely formatted exactly as in the post.
Copy/paste is so dependent on what programs decide to pick up and what to leave.
But I have no idea why it decided to keep the Atticus formatting, but not that taken direct from the forum.

Workflowy - using the bullets. Fairly new to me as a working method, but the bullets are blocks that are easy to rearrange
And when I export formatted and paste into FocusWriter, all the bullets and indent levels disappear and they become normal paragraphs. That feels useful.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2022, 11:24 AM by Dormouse »

urlwolf

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1008 on: February 05, 2022, 01:15 PM »
Great job Dormouse; DC is a wonderful place for people who really care about their tools for thought.
BTW reading this: https://moritz.digital/cas/

My 'problem' with zim not having good network visualization is 'solved'. I found a way for zim to use markdown, so I can now open the folder in say obsidian and see a proper graph. Kinda using obsidian only for visualization, zim for generating the notes and writing (thanks to best latency in class).

Dormouse

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Obsidian Commmunity
« Reply #1009 on: February 06, 2022, 06:33 PM »
Students, Computer Science/Programmers, TTRPG players. I’d hoped that the WYSIWYG development of Live Preview would be used to attract a wider range of users, but it seems there’s little interest in doing that.
There's a very heavy tech bias in the community, and although it seems to have a reputation for friendliness, my impression is that it's becoming less friendly for the non-tech.

For instance this Discord response to a self-admitted non-techie user who was wondering if there was access to some paid support after getting nowhere using the Obsidian documentation :
Most stuff there are, as a matter of fact, "how-to(s)". Any other steps that aren't outlined are usually highly repetitive, general questions that can be Googled easily ...
Safe to say, Google-fu is an essential skill for everyone interacting with tech, and not just developers. The sooner you get used to it, the better

A pity. I believe that Obsidian had a very big opportunity open to it, but it feels as if it is slipping into a tech oriented cul-de-sac. Notion didn't get to the size it is by doing that even though many things are trickier to achieve in Notion than they actually are in Obsidian. Other PKM apps are targeting the wider market and they must have a chance of getting it, despite starting with a much poorer product.

It's a long time now since I recommended Obsidian to anyone. Even someone who builds their own PCs, learned python and 3D modelling form fun and is pretty adept with most software (including Notion as it happens).
« Last Edit: February 06, 2022, 06:45 PM by Dormouse »

Dormouse

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Hoisting
« Reply #1010 on: February 06, 2022, 07:01 PM »
I find it hard to understand why hoisting is such a rare feature in multi-level editors, because it makes writing so much easier.

afaicr, RightNote has it. So, sort of, does Scrivener. Dynalist and WorkFlowy have it  - I assume all outliners do as multiple levels are such a core feature. WriteMonkey is very good and also has Focus Mode. FocusWriter doesn't but it's not designed for markdown (though it does understand # Headers) and it does have a  very good Focus Mode.

urlwolf

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1011 on: February 07, 2022, 09:17 AM »
Since I posted that I 'solved' the lack of decent graph view in zim, I realized I don't need the network all that much.

I found a product I really like: amplenote.

Pros
* The rich footnote is revolutionary as a communication method: hoover a note with cursor, you will see the text
* OCR image text in full text search
* pdf indexed in search
* exports version history https://www.noteapps...port#compare-preface
* moving fast, not buggy
* Decent collaboration: https://www.noteapps...tion#compare-preface but not real time nor comments on text in a note
* offline: https://www.noteapps...line#compare-preface
* killer CEO programmer. Similar to notejoy
* automatic task priorization (never worked for me but ok worth trying)
* good mobile app
* can be a CRM with notes as reminders
* calendar so can do timeblocking
* good privacy
* integrates google sheets
* Hide task x days
* value prop: get from ideas to done things
* has  rich footnotes (notes on notes). So the thinking can stay clear in the note, and evidence is a footnote
* has clipper
* works as 'readmelater'
* bootstrapped, 5USD per team member, no guests
* founder is a productivity superstar, CEO Bill Harding
* backlinks have context
* shared tags (for teams) for collaboration
* tweet and youtube embeds
* also spreadsheets
* can link to a specific section (not a paragraph though)
* hierarchical tags are interesting
* real time collaboration

cons

* latency
* no tables unless embedding gdocs https://www.noteapps...bles#compare-preface
* no graph view. Top 5 feature request
* costs money. But free beta with nag screens https://www.amplenot...m/freemium_beta_plan
* Server in the US

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1012 on: February 07, 2022, 09:27 AM »
I found a product I really like: amplenote.
I had Amplenote in my slightly interesting group.

Cons for me were:
  • Not based on local notes
  • Cost (as I only expected to be having a look at it)
  • Emphasis on productivity
  • No Header folding
  • Only 3 header levels?

If you continue to like it, I'll have a look myself


I find I'm liking Workflowy more, the more I work with it.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2022, 10:02 AM by Dormouse »

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1013 on: February 07, 2022, 09:34 AM »
exports version history https://www.noteapps...port#compare-preface
* moving fast, not buggy
* Decent collaboration: https://www.noteapps...tion#compare-preface but not real time nor comments on text in a note
* offline: https://www.noteapps...line#compare-preface
I find the noteapps comparisons very interesting, but don't completely trust them as they are funded by Amplenote.

BGM

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1014 on: February 07, 2022, 11:17 AM »
I wanted an app for my Android where I could just record simple thoughts without any further activity.  In other words, I just dictate to the phone and it gets changed into text.  For this, I've been using a little app called "Simple Notepad".  It stores all my notes as text files that I can copy to my desktop later (or I could do the Google Drive sync thing.

The one thing on my Android that I tried to avoid was having to sign in to anything ever just to record my thoughts.  That's what stopped me from using OneNote - I was in the woods once and went to record something and it asked me to sign in.  How in the world am I going to remember any password when I have to use a password keeper in the first place - AND - I'm in the woods?  Sometimes I might remember one or two of my 500 passwords, but not when I am in the woods.  So, I started using Simple Notepad.  I don't know if it's the best or not, but I like it enough so far.

Now, on my desktop, I've mentioned before that I use TreeDBNotes - and I've not seen anyone discuss this note-taking application within this awesome thread (this is one of the best threads on DC, in my opinion, and I've monitored it via RSS from the beginning).  The authour quit working on TreeDBNotes some years ago, but it's still out there to be downloaded.  Using this program, I have notes for all of my program development, all my IT and network changes and logs, conversations with techs and agents over the phone, histories of various computers and devices and network management.  I've got an entire notebook dedicated to stories and poems, another notebook dedicated to notes on animals, artwork, etc.  They are my own personal encyclopedias.

BGM

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1015 on: February 07, 2022, 11:26 AM »
Also, I wanted to add to this anthology a short list of things I find most useful in my TreeDB Notes - things I try to find in other editors:
  • Paste hyperlink - say you have a url on the clipboard, I want to select text in my editor and "paste they hyperlink" into that selection without using a dialogue box.  I started doing this in TreeDBNotes and I essentially stopped using the bookmark system in my browser.
  • Recognize system url protocols - I like to use callto: links in my notes.  With TreeDBNotes (and Qtext) you can create callto links by just typing callto:xxx-xxx-xxxx (phone number) and it generates the callto link automatically.  This is great for storing contact information with click-to-call that calls that number in your phone application (Phoner Light for me, connected to our Asterisks PBX).
  • Multiple tabs, each with it's own tree - I love this.

I also love custom icons for note entries and folders in the tree.  With TreeDBNotes, I can also paste screenshots right into the editor with no further work (they become embedded as bmps).

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1016 on: February 07, 2022, 11:53 AM »
The one thing on my Android that I tried to avoid was having to sign in to anything ever just to record my thoughts.
Makes sense. I very rarely want to dictate quick notes now, so I don't have a workflow for this at all, but I'd agree that easy and fast are the key elements. Not that dictation is ever that easy for the program.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1017 on: February 07, 2022, 12:09 PM »
I use TreeDBNotes - and I've not seen anyone discuss this
I always liked TreeDBNotes. And I'd agree that it is still performs better than many newer alternatives.
I haven't mentioned it at all because it's a database, which was against the thrust of what I have been trying to do.

I stopped using it, partly because of that (I can't remember now what export options it has), but also the closure of the forums and then development stopping. I don't mind development ending, but I like to believe that the developer still cares enough to keep it working. iirc, when he was still communicating, he was also wanting to take it in a direction that didn't suit me - a PIM rather than an editor). I know some people reported data loss (when the forum was still open), but that wasn't a problem I ever experienced myself.
Windows only as well iirc

BGM

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1018 on: February 07, 2022, 04:20 PM »
Ah, yeah, I forgot that you had requirements for how the data was stored.

I was sooooo very willing (and still am) to learn to code in Delphi just so I could make some fixes and changes, and I've emailed the authour through the years, but he only ever answered me once or twice and that was it.

The PIM aspects of TreeDBNotes were never fully worked out, I think.  I only ever use the notes part, but I love it.  I have my own toolbar with all my own custom styles.  The tree gives you options to customize the style and icon AND flag of every entry in the tree.  Any entry in the tree can be a folder as well as a note.  And you can put passwords on individual notes.  I love this program and have never found anything else I've liked better.

Getting data *out* of TreeDBNotes, yes, well, it has quite a few options, but they are kind of quirky, I think.  You can output to epub or html, really, that's sort of it.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1019 on: February 07, 2022, 05:57 PM »
The PIM aspects of TreeDBNotes were never fully worked out, I think.  I only ever use the notes part, but I love it.
Agreed. x2.
You can output to epub or html, really, that's sort of it.
Wow! Really? I hadn't remembered it being that limited.
I suppose you can do quite a lot with both of them. I remember writing letters and documents with it at one time.
iirc another program claimed to be able to import from TreeDBNotes (AllMyNotes?) but I have no idea what its export options were.

It's a pity it was abandoned. The notes component anyway (though my preference has shifted away from that two pane outliner design). It a lot of features that made it comfo9rtable to work with. You certainly seem to have been making the most of it.

BGM

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1020 on: February 07, 2022, 07:38 PM »
Now, I got to TreeDBNotes from good 'ole Keynote (there is a newer app called this, too, and it's completely different).  The old Keynote worked like TreeDBNotes, but would also let you link regular .txt files into it's tree and tab structure.  That was nice.

urlwolf

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1021 on: February 08, 2022, 12:47 PM »
@Dormouse, great catch on the website for notetaking comparison being influenced by amplenote. Didn't occur to me to check. Brilliant, clear thinking on your side! This is a beautiful example of Julia Galef's 'scout mindset'

I'd say reevaluate amplenote. They 'invented' rich footnotes. And I think it makes A LOT of sense. I never realized that sometimes my full notes (with the corresponding overhead) were just footnotes.
This is it:
https://www.amplenot...ng_depth_write_in_3d

Worth getting deeper into this, as it might be a completely new paradigm. I'm just starting to grasp its significance.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1022 on: February 08, 2022, 04:35 PM »

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1023 on: February 09, 2022, 04:15 AM »
This is it:
https://www.amplenot...ng_depth_write_in_3d

Thanks. I'm afraid I get very turned off when developers start to talk about brains. They clearly don't have the remotest idea about how the human brain functions and my ability to attend to what they are trying to say disappears.

I will look at the footnotes bit sometime. But, from what I read, it seems as if it only works when published on the web. I don't do that, so as a Utilitarian, it wouldn't be of immediate interest to me. I also have a feeling that their thinking about it is wrong. Just from the way they talk. But I will get there and look.

urlwolf

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #1024 on: February 09, 2022, 10:08 AM »
This is very interesting:
https://alloy.dev/essays/formative.html

They seem to be in for the long run. More so than most of these VC funded companies that (as the article describes) have competing incentives