Dendron-style notes in Obsidian

@robertandrews has mentioned the idea of using the Dendron approach to PKM in Obsidian. This idea fascinates me—it suggests the possibility of a much better way to do something I’ve been halfheartedly trying to do for a long time.

Has anyone gotten a system like this working in Obsidian? How did you implement it? Is not using folders really better? Why? The article mentions “journaling, task management, creative writing, keeping track of interactions”…how would you do these? Are there resources about these things (my quick look didn’t turn up much)?

I think Dendron’s main point is to use a filename system that works like an outliner, like

jrnl
jrnl.22
jrnl.22.11.09.holiday
prog
prog.php
prog.php.functions

The main difference is that with a file structure something is either a folder or a note, whereas in Dendron everything is a note which can then have subnotes.

There’s nothing stopping you from using the Dendron naming convention in Obsidian (something similar was actually quote popular in the very basic Notational Velocity days). You’d miss some of the fancy Dendron stuff like folding the resulting outline or the ‘graph view’ that shows the outline relations rather than the links, but the basics will work fine. You could even point Dendron and Obsidian to the same folder if you want the benefits of both.

Alternatively, there is a ‘folder note’ plugin that allows you to link a note as the content of a folder in Obsidian (and then hide the note from the files). It has a very similar effect, except, at least when I tried it a while ago, you cannot really link to/from folders in this way.

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If the only advantage to the naming convention system is the sense of hierarchy, I don’t think folders are better, but I do think you can get a similar sort of organization by using index or table of contents sheets.

Try making a document for each topic you want to place at the top of a hierarchy, and then get in the habit of giving every document a link to the most appropriate index sheet, or to one of its descendants. You can then view the backlinks on your index to get a list of child documents, or use the graph to get a good picture of all the links.

I like this approach because it allows the same document to be filed under multiple parents.

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I do this. Folders are an anti-pattern in my perspective. And anti-ADHD. Hides notes where you forget them, adds more steps to find them, forces extra steps each time hierarchy changes, requires one extra step per specificity of hierarchy - all of which groups notes together more than they need to be.

GitHub - dobrovolsky/obsidain-structure intends to bring some of Dendron to Obsidian, but I’ve mostly done Dendron things (refactoring, etc) in VSCodium and the rest in Obsidian. I can highly recommend it :slight_smile:

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