Creating "Empty" Notes Outside of Obsidian

There does not appear be any earlier forum post(s) about this so here goes.

What I’m trying to do

I am creating a new vault which will contain 360 essentially empty notes from the start. The notes’s titles are known but some tags will likely be added too. They will be stored in the vault in a folder called “Research and References”.

The note titles and the possible tags are all in a publicly available CSV file.

Things I have tried

So far not tried to do this manually because it would be a) tedious and b) error prone. Writing scripts is more interesting and other than stupid coding errors better.

Why do I want to create this new vault and why exactly 360 “empty” notes?

Well UK-based Obsidian users will likely recognise 360 as being the number of Conservative Party MPs currently sitting as MPs in the House of Commons. My new vault will contain press cuttings of accusations made against them for either their behaviour/conduct or sleaze/corruption.

The “press cuttings” may be URLs to reports in newspapers of record about each of the MPs as and when they appear.

And for balance a few MPs sitting for other parties might also make it in to my vault but I am starting with the Tories because most of the recent reports and activity has been about/by them.

Ignoring the purpose

Ignoring the purpose can I use a bunch of bash scripts and tools to create those empty notes? Either by using touch to create the empty note or maybe use echo to create the note and fill in the tags.

That will grow into a massive vault. :rofl:

I used Scrivener (and various search and replace runs) to break a CSV file into separate notes for all the MPs and then exported those as 650 Markdown files.

Scrivener is available as a 30-day trial. Unless someone has a better idea, you might be able to use that and do something similar. (428.2 KB)

Thanks for the files. TheyWorkForYou is exactly the same place I downloaded my list from too. Though I note they do not mark those MPs, like Matt Hancock, who have had the Tory whip removed nor those like Michael Fabricant who on their social media pages have removed the word “Conservative” and substituted obfuscatTORY things like “Socially liberal” in its place.

The Parliamentary web site unhelpfully splits their listing up into pages although there used to be someway to download the entire list or maybe that was the expenses claims data. If it is now all squirreled away somewhere I have forgetten where. Could be useful to include that in the filled out notes too.

I was thinking of using Obsidian tags/keywords/whatever such as for Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel:

Constituentcy: Luton
Whip: Removed
Cabinet: Secretary of State for Silly Walks

or for Malcolm Peter Brian Telescope Adrian Umbrella Stand Jasper Wednesday (pops mouth twice) Stoatgobbler John Raw Vegetable (sound effect of horse whinnying) Arthur Norman Michael (blows squeaker) Featherstone Smith (blows whistle) Northgot Edwards Harris (fires pistol, then ‘whoop’) Mason (chuff-chuff-chuff) Frampton Jones Fruitbat Gilbert (sings) ‘We’ll keep a welcome in the’ (three shots, stops singing) Williams If I Could Walk That Way Jenkin (squeaker) Tiger-drawers Pratt Thompson (sings) ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’ Darcy Carter (horn) Pussycat ‘Don’t Sleep In The Subway’ Barton Mainwaring (hoot, ‘whoop’) Smith

Constituency: Harpenden

Hoping that at the next general election that this vault will be slimmer with all the current MPs’ notes transfered to an ex-MPs folder. Zahawi’s own YouGov organisation predicted a new months ago that the Tories could be reduced to a runt party after the next GE with no more than a dozen MPs left in parliament.:grinning: (Zahawi, for those unfamiliar with UK politics, is a current Conservative MP, sometime Cabinet minister, and owner/founder of the suvey site YouGov.{com|}.)

Only truly interested in creating files for the 360 current Conservative MPs including those who have had the whip removed. Adding sleazey MPs from other parties will be a less tedious and less often necessity.

I’m a long time Scrivener user — sometime scourge of their forums — and with the use of csvkit, daff, and other macOS command line tools could stuff this all a Scrivener Project. However, using those same tools I think that Obsidian is the better solution to use as the internal file structure is pretty open and particularly subsequent use Dataview and other plugins to analyse it all. Fiddling with the intricate nature of Scrivener’s project format in particular the search indices is fraught with danger. It will be much less effort to “crack” Obsidian’s diectory layout than Scrivener’s.

As I think about incorpating those “press cuttings” the open nature of Obsidian’s file structure is definitely more appealing. Using

echo >> vault name/MP’s name

to append new URIs/URLs the MP’s note found through an automated SDI search via curl or wget. ChatGPT generated a sample bash script that could form the basis of my SDI procedure. Interestingly for a product funded by Microsoft the example used Google. :crazy_face:

But still the idea of creating these “empty” notes in Obsidian has more appeal that using other programs.

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Enjoyed that. :wink:

Yep, I only used Scrivener to break the CSV into individual Markdown files which could then be imported into Obsidian. For sure Obsidian (and its plugins) is a much more powerful tool to manage a large dataset.

Good luck with the project.

Being a neophyte Obsidianian and an old style command line programmer I was looking for a “complex” solution to my requirements. However, rummaging around the help files it looks like there is a simple way for me to do this (creating the vault with its “empty” notes) namley Task Switcher > Open Folder as Vault! Simples as the Meercat philospher would say. Will try this out once I have reformated the CSV file using csvkit and sed.

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A quick test (using command line calls of echo) to create a handful of files in a folder and open that as a Vault worked! As did adding more files later. Also added a subfolder later still with notes in it. That worked too. If only I knew more about Obsidian!

Once the “Folder” has been opened as a Vault all the Obsidian stuff (the content of the .obsidian subfolder) gets added and the Folder becomes a full on Vault.

Now to go process that CSV file I have and create the wanted vault.


Very easy to add files to an existing vault or to create a new vault from a folder of files. I created the 650 files linked above (exported as Markdown from Scrivener), dropped them into a folder in my existing vault through macOS Finder, and Obsidian indexed them for me.

For fun, I created notes for all the MPs. (1) The files take up hardly any space. (2) I thought it likely that any story might well connect with someone from another party (as the person who leaked the story or made a statement about it) and that having notes for all the MPs might allow unexpected interconnections to be made (and visualized in graph view).

With plugins such as Dataview it is easy to see a web of cross references that might otherwise be overlooked.

Good luck with the project.