A few beginner's questions

Hello,

I think I’m typically the person who would like to use Obsidian: I’ve always taken a lot of notes, for various things, especially in a creative way.
I write quite diverse texts, short stories, novels, proses, and I write a lot of notes for this work, as raw material, which sometimes become texts in their own way, and so on.

I used NV for a while, then Evernote which I left, then Apple Notes and iA Writer (which I want to continue to use for writing long forms), but I haven’t yet found the ideal for my collection of notes.

  • I’m currently trying Obsidian with a project in progress (novel) but I haven’t yet had the “click” with the notion of connected notes. I understand its interest theoretically, but not yet in my own experience.
    I sometimes use mind mapping to make a map, to come up with ideas, but, although it’s quite effective, I find it’s a bit of a mess. I don’t know if Obsidian can help me in that sense.
    What youtube videos would you advise me to learn more (I watched 5 or 6 yesterday) about this tool.

  • I didn’t quite understand how the “folding” feature worked despite the help (which describes the behavior, but doesn’t seem to explain how to get it, or maybe I misunderstood…) Using tabulation, I ended up with code blocks (?), and above all I couldn’t figure how to un-indent text…

  • Another question, is it possible to simply change the extension of a set of notes from .txt to .md without this being a problem?

Thanks a lot for your help.

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Good questions. Here are a few answers.

In terms of connected notes, you may want to look into the ability to links to headings, MOCs, and transclusion. Having a big monitor and splitting panes and being able to compose different parts separately as they are fed immediately into a composite note as an embed can be nice.

The help vault is accessible from the program as an icon in lower left. A good place to start.

Folding needs to be enabled for headings and lists in settings.

To unindent you can place cursor at beginning or select multiple lines and press shift tab.

In terms of changing extension, not possible as far as I know, although I’m sure there are converters. You could potentially automate the process using a macro script, but with my limited scripting abilities, this would be one that I would want to watch and interrupt in the case that it started misbehaving.

Hope that helps some.

Thanks.

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Thank you.
I started a new (more general) vault and i was quite thrilled about the potential and possibilities I could anticipate.

Yes I had checked the indentation in the preferences, but I need to understand the difference between “spaces” and “tab” to indent.

Being able to use panels is great because I love to write on several notes at once, moving from one idea and one note to another.
This use is extremely profitable and powerful for me.

I’ve tested on a few .txt notes to simply change by hand the extension to .md and I didn’t see any trouble, I hope it’s not a problem to do it on a bunch of notes!

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@gsf: re panels and writing, it is possible to have the same note open in 2 juxtaposed panels, and to link them so they scroll synchronised - very useful to see the effect of your writing/editing immediately.

Another aspect that can be useful for writers is transclusions/embedded notes. The transclusions can be a full note, a section below a header, or even just a paragraph. This is useful when you are “knitting” together bits and pieces from different notes into 1.

@Klaas Yes i already tried to link and scroll them together! Very clever.
I have to try the transclusion, no idea how it works for now but i’ll check that on the Help vault. Very interesting feature, except that if one day (far away!) I don’t use Obsidian anymore, this feature may be problematic (?) (since I assume that the notes will no longer contain nested passages).

I really like that Obsidian is both minimalist in its look, and so powerful in its features.

I’m now going to start importing my notes scattered everywhere (Apple Notes, txt files, even in the Day One app, …) A big task!
Isn’t there a note importer somewhere, or a “good way” to do it, a procedure to follow? Thanks again.

@gsf: yes, you are right that it is unique to Obsidian. Having said that. and having had to transfer my notes a fair number of times, I must say that I am “addicted” to transclusions. It makes writing and compiling so much more pleasant and productive, not having to repeat texts.

If, for whatever reason, I would stop using Obs, the transclusion link text will point me to what I meant to transclude - makes sense :thinking:

Regarding the syntax, it is very easy, it’s like when you link to an image, which in effect is also an embed.

![[filename]] will show the file in Preview.
To transclude a header from another note: ![[filename#headername]]
To transclude a block (i.e. a paragraph) from another note: ![[filename^keyword]].

The block reference is slightly different. Let’s assume you have the following paragraph in note 1:

Dolor nulla modi in qui quibusdam in aperiam. Ab vero eaque qui vel voluptatem. Minima culpa cumque magni sunt et. Minima voluptatem facilis qui rerum. Ut dignissimos doloribus earum officia odit animi voluptatem. Nobis exercitationem mollitia sint enim eos doloribus itaque amet.

Now, if you want to transclude that para in note 2, you would have to do:
![[note 1^

and as soon as you type the caret (^) you’ll get a list of all the paragraphs in note 1. You can then start typing what I call a distinctive word that only appears in that para, in this case “quibusdam” (without the quotation marks).

Obsidian will then assign a unique ID number to that paragraph, e.g. 123ab45. So it will complete your transclusion syntax: ![[note 1^123ab45]]. That’s it.

Note that a paragraph is a block of text with an empty line above and below it.

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@Klaas
Thank you very much for these great explanations and shortcuts!
I will try this as soon as possible.
I need to revise my markdown because it is a bit hesitant or approximate, especially the precise syntax for line breaks vs. new paragraphs.
I’m still mixing things up a bit at the moment (it seems to me that the behavior wasn’t always exactly the same according to the different applications I’ve used so far…)!

@gsf Hello,

Like you, I had a lot of .txt notes that I changed to .md, using automation software (Ant Renamer on Windows 10).
I had made a copy of my notes beforehand, in case there was a problem.
But the files were converted without any problem.
.md files are a plain text format, and you can switch from .txt to .md without damage.
Some Markdown software can read .txt files as well as .md files, but Obsidian does not.

I was also surprised to see the tabulations change the text into a code block.
I believe this is due to the markdown flavor of Obsidian, which is that of Github (https://github.github.com/gfm/#indented-code-blocks). …

I looked at the html code of the Obsidian page, to see if I could change the style of these blocks, so that they look like shifted (tabbed) blocks of text. But the “class” selector for indented code blocks and fenced code blocks is the same, so you can’t change the style of one without also changing the other.

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Hello @Nato ,
thank you for your message!
Yes, I also have an application to rename files, it’s a very good idea.
And to tell the truth, even the finder can do it, I realize.

What’s curious is that while searching in the Obsidian forums about this topic (for example here: Allow reading & writing .txt files as well as .md, I started to think (and to fear!) that changing the extension of notes from .txt to .md was risky or controversial.

But maybe it’s actually quite simple.
Let’s hope so, because I’m going to get a lot of them.
There will certainly be some formatting accidents, but not too serious I hope! The idea of making a backup is precious…

Strangely, I didn’t have any more problems with code blocks when I indent, I don’t know why and I don’t know what I did exactly the very first time.
I noticed however that when I ident text, the folding / toggle is visible and clickable in edit mode, but not in preview mode where it disappears, contrary to what happens with headers, i was surprised.

Something else I noticed:
I created a folder structure.
But when I create a new note, if the folders are closed, or if I’ve “wandered” from folder to folder, I don’t know where it will go. I’ve seen that there is a setting to specify a specific folder. But isn’t it possible to select a folder, and to create the note in this open folder (not with a right click on the folder title, which works, but with the “new note” button or with the “new note” shortcut)?

@gsf

About tabulations:

  • If the indented text comes, with a single carriage return, below a paragraph, then it is not interpreted as a block of code. The ability to collapse indented text below the paragraph may be because Obsidian interprets it as a sublist? But I do not know. I have the impression that there is something wrong.

  • Indented code blocks are created when the indented text is separated from what precedes it by a blank line, see here.

Regarding the files:

  • Yes, there is no default location option for a new note in a folder selected on the fly. This would probably be problematic when several folders and subfolders are open. For now my new notes go to the root of the project, then I drag them later to the folder where I think they should be. Others use a specific folder for receiving their new notes. This way they know where to find them, and then move them around according to their own method.

About Allow reading & writing .txt files as well as .md I don’t have a clear opinion.
On the one hand, extensions make it possible to know at a glance which light markup language (.md, .adoc, etc.) our files are composed of, to have the feeling of keeping things clean , and possibly contribute to pratical advantages (sorting, assigning a default application to open a type of file, etc.),

and on the other hand, the variety of extensions results in a decrease in interoperability.

I would happily opt so that light markup language applications could read and interpret .txt files, as a common foundation. At least as a check option.

I mainly consider the “inconvenience” of having to change the extension if you want to work with multiple applications. This is an additional and boring task.

The clarity of working with Obsidian made me convert all my .txt files to .md. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it. I have little fear of the loss of interoperability, because there are a lot of Markdown applications, - with the exception of Wiki-Links which are not originally integrated into Markdown (but still seem to be taken more and more into account ).

@nato Thanks again !
to tell the truth, the fact that I have to use .md is not really a problem, because ideally I will then only use Obsidian and iA Writer (which can work, if i decide so, in a native way in markdown), so I won’t have any more conversions to do (once I manage to import all my previous notes in Obsidian, i.e. in simple and well-structured folders!).

For the location of new notes by default, I simply created and chose an inbox folder. And if I work in a specific folder, I can always right-click on it and the new note will go in it.

You had a lot of notes to convert and import?
This task scares me a little bit :wink:

@gsf I would say ~ 2,500 files.
Drafts, notes, sentences, shreds of text.
Almost everything was in .txt format, with or without markdown.
More creative prose and “fictional” ideas than concepts.

My current use of Obsidian is special, neither PKM nor zettelkasten. I use it to bring my scattered files together, and build a coherent structure, with which I can progress.

Hyperlinks help me too, as a way to navigate the textual jungle.

I am thinking of creating a sort of zettelkasten afterwards, by mixing erudite notes with creative notes …

@Nato Thank you. Interesting, as it is the same for me: gathering texts that were separated in different places, and it’s also about creative writing, prose, etc.
I’m not sure how to integrate Obsidian specific links on these ancient texts, it’s surely a big job.
But on the other hand, on new notes, I will certainly start using them.
I also started looking for PKM and Zettelkasten, it’s interesting.
I would like to try to integrate this into my practice.

I have a specific question, maybe you can help me: when I use headers, I would like to know how to “get out” of the last header I used.
Let’s say that I have a structured page with three headers, but below that I still want to write something that is not integrated in the last header.
I haven’t found how to do this: everything below the last header is folded in.
Thanks for your help if you have an idea!

@gsf I can’t tell you for sure, but I don’t believe there is any specific markdown code to escape header determined folding.

You could open a new topic for this question, because I wouldn’t want to put you in error for lack of knowledge.

But in case this functionality doesn’t exist, I don’t see any other way than to use the headers themselves, at or above the level you want to get out of. For example:

# header 1
## header 2
### header 3

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.
Donec vulputate orci non rhoncus malesuada.

### ¶
Morbi tristique dapibus arcu, vel dignissim nunc auctor id.
Donec sit amet nibh eu orci hendrerit pharetra.

In this case, ### ¶ would be a fake header, only intended to escape the folding of ### header 3. Headers without text are operational in Obsidian, and:

###
Morbi tristique dapibus arcu, vel dignissim nunc auctor id.
Donec sit amet nibh eu orci hendrerit pharetra.

… will be visible in edit mode but invisible in preview mode, while retaining the possibility of folding the escaped paragraph.

There are also .css stylesheets (example: Red-Graphite - css) which make the syntax of headers more discreet, by reducing their size:

.cm-formatting-header {
  font-size: 0.6em;
}

This could contribute to simulate a difference between real headers (titles) and fake headers without text (escaping header folding).

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@Nato
Thanks for your help.
I tried the fake header trick, but it didn’t work because if the header doesn’t have a name or a title, the text below the fake header becomes the “folding part” itself !
I’ll maybe open a new topic about these folding things, indeed. Or… else not use them !

@gsf I missed it.

In preview mode, I observed that an untitled header folds up leaving the next header to overlap the first.

We are therefore forced to put a title - or a character, a sign or an icon representing for oneself an “exit”.