Convert Canvas to note(s) (enable the use of Canvas to initially outline long-form writing)

Use case or problem

Use Canvas as the beginning of a long-form writing workflow, converting it into a single markdown file as an outline.

Proposed solution

I love the capabilities of Canvas, and I’d like to use it for the first step in a long-form writing workflow.

Is it possible, or would it be possible to:

  1. Create a mind-map in Canvas, creating the visual elements with cards (or existing Obsidian MD files). Convert the cards to MD files.
  2. Outline. Convert the whole collection of the Canvas MD files into a single MD file that acts as an Outline for further editing.
  3. From that single Outline, export to Markdown, RTF, HTML, or WordPress!

Current workaround (optional)

Workaround is copy/pasting from individual Obsidian MD files.

Related feature requests (optional)

9 Likes

Cool idea. I would really find this useful. Sometimes it would be helpful to use it non-destructively, such that the original notes/cards are preserved. This would be especially cool if there were links added to both the original notes/cards and the resulting composite. It would make creating drafts quite easy. And since the drafts would be actually made up of the original text (as opposed to embeds), you wouldn’t feel too hesitant to edit the parts, once the draft had been created. This is not to say that the system would be perfect. But, as far as I know, it would be considerably better than anything that currently exists at creating these types of snapshots. There is the Longform plugin. But, it doesn’t natively let you work visually the way canvas does.

Potentially this could be a plugin idea, as well. I could imagine something that automatically would recolor the resulting composite nodes. Another thing to consider is whether sometimes it might be easier to layout this hierarchy in a single note. This note could be converted to canvas form (see below), then you could more quickly get started. Eventually, when the idea was sufficiently developed, the canvas nodes would be converted back into a draft outline. Ideally, the original outline, and all the later resulting drafts could be kept in connection with eachother (or perhaps metadata could be managed such that a dashboard could be automatically generated). Along these lines, it might be worth checking out this thread for some pretty amazing solutions: Dataview JS Getting The Tree Root. Following are a few more relevant things.

I really would love to see this idea implemented in one form or another. Thanks!

3 Likes

1 Like

This is what it looks like when I convert all the cards to Obsidian MD files.

Q: Is there a way to automatically collect all these new MD files into a subfolder, rather than having them appear in the root folder?

Thanks @I-d-as . I’ve checked out those threads and commented.

2 Likes

How do you ‘convert all the md files into a single md file?’
I tried using ‘merge’ in left-click md files in my vault, but it would bem a problem with existing notes.

Bidirectional conversion is preferable. The heading levels and the edges could be used as the references for conversion. suppose you are a developer or interested in developing such a feature. Please check out the software named Lattics. it has the feature.

1 Like

this is just done by the setting “Default location for new notes” in “Files and links” setting

Hello, i got the same requirement. I built the new addon Canvas2Document. It’s in obsidian’s review process right now. Check out GitHub - slnsys/obsidian-canvas2document: Plugin for Obsidian to convert a complete Canvas to a long form document
canv2doc_sm

3 Likes

Fantastic idea! This would be a very Obsidian way to implement to often-requested Scrivener workflow…

This is exactly what I need. I’m looking forward to it passing the review process soon.

The Canvas2Document plugin has gone through the review process and is available for installation in Obsidian under the community plugins.
See also GitHub - slnsys/obsidian-canvas2document: Plugin for Obsidian to convert a complete Canvas to a long form document

1 Like

Thanks for this plugin, I did a test of it, but the layout is too heavy for my use case.

I coded a simple code just to convert json to markdown is the case of hierarchical structure (mindmap) and only for card.

When I have time I will convert it to plugin, as I think many people want to use the canvas as a substitute of other mindmap tools

And the output should have not link with obsidian, just like a normal markdown to me

1 Like

What is your use case? The Canvas2Document plugin only takes the content of nodes and cards with their structure and their text.
What do you mean by heavy layout? Did you use the second step of the conversion, which removes all “navigational headings” and canvas related meta information?