A look into Heptabase's split writing experience

source: A look into Heptabase's split writing experience | Reorx's Forge

Heptabase is the most promising note-taking app for me in recent years. The idea of combining bi-directional links, cards, and whiteboards together is mind-blowing. The word note-taking or knowledge base is not accurate to define it, in fact, it’s more like a tool that aims for boosting the process of thinking.

Traditional note-taking tools are keen on providing more than enough ways for dumping your thoughts into notes, but lack methodologies on how to retrieve and use notes. The way Heptabase organizes and interacts with the data is what really empowers the user to think and write more efficiently.

Back to the video at the beginning, after watching it I noticed a very interesting feature. I can’t stop thinking of it and really wish to have something similar in other note-taking or PMK tools like Obsidian (yeah, I’m an Obsidian fan).

The feature

Here’s the walk though of that amazing feature:

  • On a whiteboard, select several cards you would like to refer to
  • Right-click on them and choose “Open in new tab”, a new page with a left-right split layout appears. The first card selected shows on the left; others show on the right as a folded list.
  • Click on the + sign button on the top menu bar; a new card is created on the left side, and the card that previously shows on the left is automatically moved to the card list on the right.
  • You can fold/unfold notes while browsing the right side, and drag’n drop blocks to copy them to the left side.

This is the best way I’ve ever seen to think and write a note while referring to many other notes. In other note-taking tools, take Obsidian for example, I can split the panes, but it is not convenient to organize the workspace well for more than 3 notes. As new panes are growing, it will become more and more interruptive to switch back and forth.

Even if I managed to build up a tidy workspace, it’s still very frustrating to switch to another context. Obsidian has the functionality to manage workspaces, but you have to manually save before switching, otherwise, the context will be missing. In Heptabase, all the workspaces are clearly shown in the sidebar, switching around is fast and easy as a breath.

Conclusion

It’s a shock to me how easy and intuitive it could be in Heptabase to create a workspace and focus on writing. I believe anybody with note-taking experience could learn something from Heptabase’s design.

Obsidian is still the best PKM tool for me. I’m going to create a plugin to achieve a similar workflow in Obsidian, possibly by creating a special pane that can add and show notes in an accordion. Stay tuned for the updates.

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This is a new old problem. How to rapresent multiple things on the space available of screen is as old as computers. floating windows, tabs, masonry, slind window (andy’s mode), tiliing windows with manual or dinamic creation and variours layouts. Tiliing window managers on linux have a rich history in this regard. It seems that you like what is called master-stack, or master-vertical tab. I recall that Roam a possibly others have have a master left view and stacked sidebar of sort.

I don’t think there exists a killer layout. It depends on the task at hand and your personal preference. It good to have options so good luck with your plugin!

3 Likes

Totally agree, I just want to give an extra choice for some specific scenes, like composing a permanent note out of a bunch of finished literature notes. I wish to have a split view where the left side is what I’m composing, the right side is all the notes I need to refer to, so that I can read around without leaving this layout or opening new notes. That’s why this is a plugin idea rather than a feature request, I don’t think there’s anything missing from Obsidian to let us achieve this.

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Can’t wait to see this plugin in action

This guy is building a hepta-like Obsidian plugin as we speak and hopes to be first public beta testing in August :fire::heart_eyes:

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any news? almost September

The developer wrote on Discord a week ago:

Hi! Sorry for the delay in replying. I’m pretty close. It will still take some time (few weeks), but definitely not long. The main work is really to try to fix as much of data stability/crashes before I put it out for testing.

Overall, I am looking forward to it - I think there are also a few unique ideas which I hope will inspire other canvas apps too :slightly_smiling_face:

2 Likes

Thank you for updating me about this. Discord is not accessible to me unless I use VPN, and that’s not stable enough for me.
Now I’m trying to use the following plugin to replicate the experience.
Full calendar plugin :
function: interface to showcase notes that has task information in frontmatter on an agenda-like calendar view.
bugs: 1 drag tasks on the full calendar interface to different dates will change the title of the note of the task but will note update any wikilinks that linked to this note of task. 2 drag task to allday area could cause the entire UI of obsidian to black out.
current workaround: just use full calendar
plugin as display interface and not to use the task creation or rearrangement function of this plugin

Quickadd plugin:
function: when you select a few words, it will use these words as the title to create a note of tasks in the Full calendar plugin designated folder using a Template.

Hover editor plugin:
function: in Full calendar view, use ctrl + mouse to hover on a task will call out a hover edit window and we could use this window to modify the front matter to rearrange the task and not affect the title of the task. this could reserve the backlink generated when creating the task note.

database folder:
function: turning a Full calendar folder into a database folder can make a notion like task management experience in obsidian, you can change the front matter of any note in the folder in a dataview powered sheet and have those tasks positioned on an agenda-like calendar according to their front matter information

You may be interested in Ece Kural’s (Founder of Scrintal, Heptabase competitor) talk on Sept 7th:

By the way, do you have any news on the infinite canvas plugin that could allow users to put notes and websites on it to create connections?

https://twitter.com/DharamKapila/status/1523759236932829184?s=20&t=zYYBMP1HQm1Bi1gh29UN7g

1 Like

Thank you for the information, I will definitely participate the event