Backlinks Section - Further Functionality & Interactivity

Here’s something & wondering if it’d be core or plugin area. (Roam (and RemNote) comparisons, sorry!)

Backlinks List Function 1: Backlink Readably as Note Contributions

In Roam the list of linked references (backlinks list) is at the bottom of the page/note and visualized in a way differentiates it enough from the text written on the note, yet still reads like extended contents of the page/note. This allows the users to essentially constantly populate & contribute to this page/note anywhere they are via backlinks. The backlink section feels & reads like a content aggregator, as much as an index.

Obsidian backlinks panel being on the side, makes backlinks read as manly just an index. A list of cut off previews of notes you could click to go to that happen to mention/link this note you’re viewing.

Having the option to have the list of backlinks at the bottom of page I feel would solve some of this. Making the backlinks read a bit more like a list of content (perhaps displaying the line or paragraph the mention/backlink is in) on this page you’re on. Seems like it could be in the realm of plugin as it’s mainly a display thing?

Backlink List Function 2: Backlink List Interactivity

The other function I feel adds that sense of backlinks “populating” a note just more powerful/useful in general, is that Roam allows you to edit the notes listed in “linked references” on the page/note you’re on. i.e. their backlinks list is interactive.

Obviously this makes working with different notes more fluid & dynamic, but is this solely a merit of it’s outliner nature?

Obsidian’s backlinks list is a viewer/preview of those files/notes after all. So theoretically couldn’t it also be able to edit them?

At the very least could the backlink list order be customizable/sortable/filterable?

This seems to be a bit deeper, so would this be a core feature or plugin request?

It’s difficult to describe the flow & power of having your backlinks be interactive & populate content in pages in meaningful ways. It’s the the primary way I use backlinks at all. I don’t think I ever would have felt the need to use a networked thought app until I experienced the fluid interactive aggregation of separate notes, so it’d be wonderful if Obsidian could have some of that capability.

note: I don’t want Obsidian to be a Roam clone, I like the core values of it just feel these features could be beneficial to a lot of users & is possible to achieve.


I think having the backlinks integrated into the bottom of the page is very important. One of the things that makes Roam special (and I know that Obsidian isn’t intended to work exactly like Roam) is the way that it doesn’t matter where you take your notes - you just start writing anywhere, and if you link it thoroughly it will show up in all the relevant pages. In Obsidian backlinks really aren’t first class citizens the way they are in Roam, and you therefore have to put much more thought into where you’re writing stuff down


I hope the flexibility & personalization of Obsidian will bring the best of both worlds. Just like you mentioned, jotting things down or even thorough thoughtful writing in Roam allows for dense linking easily & UI makes the links very readable and thus utilizable/very functional in a way you almost don’t need to think about.

I think the outliner nature can a bit suffocating/imposing on what I’m wanting to write though, which is why I like Obsidian. The app is agonistic to how I want to write (that’s the promise/vision). If users want to have plugins to enable their workflow to be more like Roam, great. If they want more Space Repetition functions, awesome.

I read something that described the power of Roam was pages+backlinks+block level embedding. I think that Obsidian could eventually have all this (there must be a way to get more granular without being an outliner).

Another thing I’ve heard mentioned is Roam’s contextual backlinks. I’m not entirely sure what that entails? Is it the that a backlink contain the context in a outliner hierarchy? If that’s the case, then that likely can’t be done.

Although maybe something like that is possible with a hidden UID format where the UID also generates a key that indicates it’s position/relation to other UIDs? Just spitballing. I’m not a developer by any means.


Yep, in Stroll (Tiddlywiki variant) there are many options for viewing backlinks. See Section “Linking in Stroll, part 2” in the left navbar. Something similar would be super helpful. Thanks


I especially would like to see your first suggestion here and would like to have backlinkes more prominent, for example at the bottom of the note. As @huvir said, the Stroll options are an excellent example:



Oh wow, I didn’t know they had that level of control over backlinks display. That’s really cool.

Yes that’s awesome. Between;

  • how they display (those view options)
  • where they display (ie section at bottom of page vs side bar)
  • what is displayed (links vs embeds, headers link/embeds, just note titles, links in this note that link to others/forward links?)
  • filtering/sorting your backlink/reference list

You’ve got a really powerful options to use your links.

Then it can be extended to other functions like;

  • editing/interacting with the line/context of the link/embeds from the backlink list or it’s embed.
  • alt+drag from backlink list to embed to another note
  • aliases, searching, adding, aliases, synonyms, abbreviations to be included with this backlink
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Personally, don’t like sidebars. So I put backlinks at the bottom of the page using js. I describe how to do it in the link below.


I’d give a big thumbs up here - this addresses what I meant in another thread about:

The biggest value from Roam I can’t yet find in Obsidian is the ability to quickly pull information from the backlinked documents into one I am working on. This suggestion would be a big step in the right direction.


Yeah, a quick solve for that would be to have the backlink panel be a section on the bottom of the page & have multiple panes opens. This would allow to essentially view multiple backlink panels at once and copy/embed/ into your working document.

This could be a better layout than Roam because viewing another page all have to run through their one sidebar.

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I totally agree. This is the one thing I am missing, as well.

Does the 7.0 update help with this at all?

With the positioning of course! Especially the “Open backlinks for current file” option, which makes it really convenient. Great step forward, though there’s still some readability which limits how useful & functional the panel could really be.

It still feels limited to an index of links with truncated text previews, which is great and I’m very appreciative of it, but it doesn’t leverage the power of what backlinks can bring. Hope the feedback helps. Thanks for the great work Silver & Licat!

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Thank you for the feedback! :slight_smile:

I’d like to tie this in re: the ability to filter/customize the backlinks section.

Option to show only non-reciprocal backlinks

I definitely find that I want to see what one-way connections I have vs showing me everything including those that are already mentioned in the note – seems redundant to show me those.

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+1 for this

I love backlinks for being able to gradually populate a topic/node and build it up as a body of text to reference. Sometimes I’ll turn this into a full set of notes or topic, but more often than not it’s just useful to be able to summarise from the accretion of various blocks. Nodes gradually grow into full-fledged notes as more of my pages include links.

I’ll try out the plug-in listed above to show backlinks at bottom of the page and would love for this to be more developed.

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I can’t wait to see what people do with the backlinks section with plugins. :nerd_face: :popcorn:

The ideas here would be awesome. Especially love @mrjackphil’s end of document hack

Agree with both your points! This would go hand in hand with being able to interact with the results, but showing the entire line (which is basically a block now) a reference is in would be really helpful too and is probably much easier to implement than being able to interact with notes.

I completely agree with everything in this thread, and also think this is best suited as a plugin rather than core functionality. Especially having the linked/unlinked backlinks at the bottom of the document. With the new plugin API in insider, I’m looking forward to seeing this be implemented!