Fully transclude backlinks

Disagreement is fine and I do understand where you are coming from.
As I said, I don’t think there’s an issue with Obsidian picking up ideas from other places when they’re a good fit for the design and vision.
I also see no issues with anything added through plugins.

For the rest, although you are persuasive, I believe you are wrong.

There are two issues. The first is that time is urgently needed to develop the core vision. And it’s a very different core to Roam in being based on documents rather than a database. It needs to lever the document advantages rather than trying to imitate functions that come easily in the Roam database.

The second is about branding and the future. Conan is very clear that he’s positioning Roam on the high ground. It already has status and high profile adherents. He believes that the focus on intensive users will give the best feedback for development and a higher bang for buck in support costs. He recognises that all users are not equal.

Many current users are likely to be driven away by the initial pricing. If they come here, they are naturally going to look for the features they valued in Roam. Dynalist have a tradition of using user votes to drive decisions about feature development. This is where the risk comes. If that route is followed, it cedes primacy of vision to Roam with Obsidian playing imitator. And, when Roam reduces its price or users become wealthier, they will trade up by returning to Roam. Leaving behind the users who were the best fit for the Obsidian vision with a program that is not as good for their use as it might have been.

There’s a perfectly good business to be made out of providing a cheaper clone. But it only works if its designed to be that from the ground up.

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Disagreement often drives innovation and is essential to better understand certain issues. Hence, I hope there is some benefit coming out of my hesitation to follow your reasoning here.

First, the perhaps second biggest selling point of Obsidian is its backlinking feature. According to supporters of the application who take the time to engage in forum discussions and (likely) want Obsidian to succeed, the feature is currently limited in the value it provides and, to some, not very useful in its current form. To me, this is a “core vision” issue and should not be outsourced to the realm of (third-party) plugin features. And, I would imagine, I am not alone with this.

Second, users ‘trading up’ or down is not as common as you suggest. While Obsidian uses local markdown files and the core of our data is actually our data, it still suffers from an effective vendor lock-in barrier. Few people using an as complex note-taking application as Obsidian would want to go through the work of moving their whole ‘digital brain’ around - and even fewer have the time for it (not everyone is a full-time university student). Something is always going to break/not be checked for completeness and no one wants to lose information if they can avoid it.

That said, Obsidian is not - and should not be - a Roam clone, I agree with you here. This does not mean that its value should be constrained by ignoring good practices of other knowledge-related applications out there, whether it’s Roam (as discussed), or for instance Evernote (e.g. robustness) or Amazing Marvin (note taking app with impressive customisation via plugins).

My apologies for this slightly off-topic post.

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I have no issues with discussions about how backlinking can be improved. I do have concerns about any fixation on how Roam does it, or getting tied into the Roam conceptualisation of blocks (or any other such concept). What can be done efficiently with documents is not the same as what can be done efficiently in a database. I would prefer discussion about precisely defined use cases and unconstrained thinking about how those needs could be met.

Some people will always be better off in a pure database solution, even if they find Roam too expensive at the moment.

I agree that there are differences in what can be done for backlinks related to Obsidian being document/markdown based versus outliners/databases. That said - backlinks are certainly a key feature of obsidian and theres is certainly alot more context that can provided to the backlinks within the constraints of markdown. Developing this feature out does not make Obsidian a Roam clone. Backlinks just happen to be core to both products.

In addition to the suggestion of just providing more info related to text lines in the proxity to the backlink, headings and bullets are structured elements of markdown that should be leveraged here. It would be great to have @Licat or @Silver weigh in on any plans for further backlink context?

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I agree. I vastly prefer the no-lockin model of obsidian and the ability to work with my files directly using other tools such as vs code but not having more context around the backlinks really reduces the utility for me at this point.

Conaw has explicitly said that cheapskate/low intensity users are a resource drain and there could easily be an increasing demand for Roam features.

Not a cheapskate. Already paid and want to use it in my primary workflow.

  • Backlinks are a core feature of obsidian. In the current implementation, if backlinks are included in a nested bulleted list, they provide no product value to the user:

Fully transcluded backlinks would provide the following value:

  • Are effective at providing context to the document being edited (read-only operation)
  • Are effective at inserting text at point of edit. (read-write operation)

There are two issues. The first is that time is urgently needed to develop the core vision. And it’s a very different core to Roam in being based on documents rather than a database. It needs to lever the document advantages rather than trying to imitate functions that come easily in the Roam database.

A few points:

  1. right now backlinks are only in the sidebar in a managed structured format, i.e., they are in database/data structure.

  2. Finally, this question of database, vs not database, is not important. A folder with internal links is a database. Presenting the information is a reduction against that database. Presenting it to the UI would likely require a runtime datastructure that manages the links, search, and presentation.

  3. Product value is the ultimate requirement. In my mind, vision is clear, graph network document store with plugin, and end-2-end encryption—a second brain, augment, that no-one can own or manage for you. Not my place, to define it, but I think that it’s pretty clear

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I think there is potential for a workaround/solution to this with the new sidebar and pane features from 0.7.0 (at least setting it up with Open Backlink for a particular pane and pinning a particular note). But these are not working as intended or could use a feature request. I documented them here:


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I think there is potential for a workaround/solution to this with the new sidebar and pane features from 0.7.0 (at least setting it up with Open Backlink for a particular pane and pinning a particular note). But these are not working as intended or could use a feature request. I documented them here:

Agreed. Actually this may be superior to transclusion. I’ve been using roam for a while and block embeds are super painful to manage over time. This is way simpler at getting context and being able to edit pages.

What you really want is a standard set of views not unlike a typical setup with an IDE (or vim)

Sold. Will try a migration this weekend :smiley:

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I am new to Obsidian from Roam and I can’t seem to find backlinked references with context as the bullet points underneath the reference. So let me explain the situation: for simplicity, say that I have 3 pages (1 for backlink, 2 for information):

Shopping list 11th June

  • [[Shopping Lists]]

  • carrots

  • peas

AND

Shopping list 18th June

  • [[Shopping Lists]]

  • ice cream

  • sweetcorn

In Roam, there is a feature called ‘linked references’, where if you click on the backlinked page, it will show all the information backlinked to it. For example, if I clicked on [[Shopping Lists]], it would show:

Shopping Lists

Shopping list 11th June

  • carrots

  • peas

Shopping list 18th June

  • ice cream

  • sweetcorn

As far as I know, in Obsidian, if I clicked on the backlinks tab in [[Shopping Lists]], I would only be able to see two things: Shopping list 11th June and Shopping list 18th June.

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This request is very similar and has a lot of love already: Fully transclude backlinks

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My bad, sorry!

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The example you did doesn’t work with bullet point yet. You have to use sentence.

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Sorry I think there is a misunderstanding here :joy:. I would like to be able to see the bullet points underneath in a list format.

I think it has been already described here: Fully transclude backlinks

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+1 - this would make my notes so much more accessible and it’s just a better UX.

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On the topic of roam clones, pricing refugees, company vision, etc.

I’ve never tried roam. I only learned about this style of note-taking recently with the topic’s explosion on YouTube and a tweet from a friend about roam. The price tag scared me away to even think about it, so I looked for similar platforms.

I really have fallen in love with Obsidian as it is. I don’t know what features it lacks compared to roam because those are luxuries I don’t know and therefore didn’t care about when I made my decision.

As a fan of open-source, active community engagement like this forum and the road map are defining features for me. Much better than being a cult follower waiting for snippets of news from the almighty.

Consumers are becoming more educated and looking for best value when they adopt new services. Like someone who’s never had a smartphone but is comparing the iPhone to one plus. A reasonable person wouldn’t even look into apple’s ecosystem because they wouldn’t consider it after seeing the price tag.

I doubt roam will have much users from countries with weaker currencies that won’t even look their way. Brazil is big on open source so Obsidian is more likely to align to their consumer expectations than roam as well. It’s so much better equipped than roam to take on markets in South America, Africa, India, South-East Asia, etc.

Anyway, I just wanted to say I really like what I see here and I’m looking forward to Obsidian’s development, taking advantage of its inherent strengths.

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Yeah I was thinking about why I have nodes as empty pages and frankly have OCD about it and now realize this is something missing. The proper backlinks on that page to all the linked content of that node. Otherwise it becomes a ghost node.

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Sorry, I’m not following you here—could you explain more if you get the chance?

I very much agree with Caketray’s suggestion, in my use of the process, the citation content display is incomplete and only part of the content has caused me a lot of trouble, I think once the implementation of this feature, will bring a great improvement to the obsidian user experience!

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I guess you could call me a “Roam refugee”, although I’m not migrating for economic reasons; the appeal of Obsidian is that it’s local-first and based on text files.

I agree that Obsidian shouldn’t try to imitate Roam in every respect. Do your own thing, and let people decide.

However:

1. The backlinks feature is not a minor detail, it’s what puts Obsidian in the same category as Roam.

I wouldn’t be trying this out if it didn’t advertise backlinks as a capability. There are lots of markdown editors out there, lots of wikis and outliners, lots of options for note-taking. Backlinks, the fundamental shift in thinking & workflows that they enable, are the very reason everyone is going gaga over Roam.

2. Obsidian’s current backlink implementation misses the boat entirely.

Roam’s fully-transcluded backlinks make it unnecessary to worry about where a new note “belongs”, because it’ll just magically show up everywhere it’s supposed to; and crucially, wherever it shows up, it’s fully editable, supports folding/unfolding, and everything else that you can do with the original; because I’m not looking at search results, I’m looking at the note itself.

Note: :point_up_2: This is said with love!! I want Obsidian to succeed, and I’d love nothing more than to be able to switch over.

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I think most people will agree with what you’re celebrating here.

The trick is the trade offs with plain text: some of these features might cost functionality e.g., in other plaintext editors. So the question is, what are we willing to sacrifice in order to get the kind of functionality you’re hoping for?

I think there’s a bit of a paradox here. It’s tough to resolve!

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