Have Obsidian developers expressed an explicit goal of interoperability with other tools?

One of the reasons Obsidian is so exciting to me is that actually storing notes in plain text opens up the opportunity for interoperability with other tools that do the same.

The greater the extent to which Obsidian vaults can be used in other tools, the greater confidence we can have of freedom from lock-in. (In the long-term, this is a bigger issue, but in the short term interoperability gives more tangible benefits, and gives us a good way to measure the freedom from lock-in before we really need it.)

Since a lot of potential feature requests might relate to interoperability improvements, I’m wondering to what extent these are likely to be welcomed. Have Obsidian developers expressed that they value interoperability the way so many of us users do?


Below is info right from the front page:

Future-proof format

Obsidian uses Markdown. Markdown is widely used by sites like Reddit and GitHub and not going away anytime soon.

Markdown is designed to be human readable. It’s not obfuscated by encoding; you can directly edit the source files with Markdown editors, or edit them automatically with scripts.

Total control

Your notes live on your device, period. You can encrypt them or back them up however you want; it’s your decision, not ours.

Plain text files let you do various sync, encryption, and data processing on top of it. Obsidian plays nice with Dropbox, Cryptomator, and any software that works with plain text files.

Always available

No internet? No problem. Obsidian works completely offline, internet or service issues will never be your problem.

Enjoy reading and working on your notes anytime, anywhere.


Obsidian interoperabilty with which tools?

Since a lot of potential feature requests might relate to interoperability improvements, I’m wondering to what extent these are likely to be welcomed. Have Obsidian developers expressed that they value interoperability the way so many of us users do?

There are many possible subsets of tools depending on one’s use case(s).

During the discussion of links (now closed) there was mention of other note taking apps and wikis. But, my understanding/opinion is that the concept of Zettlekasten is about publication.

If all you intend to publish to is GitHub or a Wiki then compatibility requirements are fairly low. But, if one wants to publish to Journals that have manditory styles for citations and text one needs support for publication tools that support those journals. A reference manager such as Zotero and a publicationtool for rendering markdown into a style a journal will accept?

So, what markdown publication tools does Obsidian support?

For example, does Obsidian markdown interoperate with PanDoc?

Pandoc Markdown

My introduction to markdown was through Coursera’s Data Science certification where I learned RMarkdown (.rmd) and GitHub Flavored Markdown (GFM). We were learning the statistical language R and using the RStudio IDE (Integrated Development Environment) to create markdown documents with fenced code blocks of R code and the output (both text and graphics) of R programs. RStudio converted its own dialect of markdown RMarkdown (.rmd) to standard markdown (.md). It was good practice to have a seperate file format for program specific markdown extensions (anyone for .omd?). RStudio/Posit (the corporation) has a new program called Quarto that has .qmd files.

When it comes out, I would like to use the Quarto Visual Editor to create Obsidian notes (currently “Visual Editor” is just an configuration in RStudio ultimately Quarto Visual Editor will be a separate product). Quarto (using Pandoc) can output to several markdown/wiki formats:

Pandoc supports a huge array of output formats, all of which can be used with Quarto. To use any Pandoc format just use the format option or the --to command line option.

Markdown formats:

GitHub Flavored Markdown (GFM) is the dialect of Markdown that is currently supported for user content on GitHub.

CommonMark is a strongly defined, highly compatible specification of Markdown.

Hugo is an open-source static website generator.

Docusaurus is an open-source markdown documentation system.

Markua is a markdown variant used by Leanpub.
Quarto – All Formats

Wiki formats

MediaWiki is the native document format of Wikipedia.

DokuWiki is a simple to use and highly versatile open source wiki software that doesn’t require a database.

ZimWiki / Zim is a graphical text editor used to maintain a collection of wiki pages.

Jira Wiki is the native document format for the Jira issue tracking and project management system from Atlassian.

XWiki is an open-source enterprise wiki system.
Quarto – All Formats

In short, for me, Quarto compatibility would be nice, but Pandoc compatibility at some level would be essential. I would be more tolerant of app specific/Obsidian specific extensions if they were in a separate file format extension such as .omd and there was a tool to export to a markdown format Pandoc understands.

What programs to you need Obsidian to be compatible with?

And would Pandoc help with that compatibility?


I’m looking for a Obsidian<->Hugo extension. Is there one?

Settings->Community plugins->Remove restrictions
then search for “hugo”, result:


Yes, I’ve read that. I’m really not sure why you quote that, as it doesn’t answer my question.

I’m not asking if I’ll be able to read my Obsidian vault in 20 years–I already know that I will be able to. I’m asking whether the creators value interoperability with other (possibly competing) tools and have stated this value and intention to support it. To give just one specific example, if I run into problems sharing a vault between NotePlan and Obsidian, should I draw attention to this and request improvements _with the expectation that they at least care about these problems–even though they obviously cannot make a priori promises to address every single incompatibility?

Given the choice of Markdown it is entirely plausible that they are happy to have me use both NotePlan (or XYZ app) simultaneously with Obsidian. But given the (possibly) natural tendency of any software developer to prefer users to standardize on their own software, they might not really care to support such interoperability.

Take Apple, for example, which just released a very appealing app for iOS and macOS, Freeform. It is evidently part of their strategy to release useful and appealing apps that are only available on Apple platforms, to try to lure users to their platforms, even though the lack of cross-platform support makes the app FAR less useful to anyone. (I’d love Freeform to have Windows and Linux support, but it’s 99.99% certain that this will never happen.)

Obviously the creators of Obsidian are not using Apple’s tactic. But I don’t know how far in the opposite direction they are going to go. That is why I asked if they have explicitly stated their goals anywhere to support this sort of interoperability.

There’s a lot of useful and interesting detail in your answer, and I’ll undoubtedly come back to this for information in the future on details of interoperability problems with specific tools, but I’m not asking “which tools are interoperable with Obsidian?” nor “what problems will I encounter when using X tool with Obsidian?”. I’m asking about statements that the Obsidian creators have made about their goals for interoperability.

A cynical view that a person might take could be that the creators valued interoperability in the beginning, when they considered what might make Obsidian popular (and thus they chose Markdown) but that this value fell by the wayside as they gained popularity and didn’t need to worry about it anymore.

But I’m specifically trying to avoid reading the tea leaves. I don’t want to guess at their values based merely on their past actions. I’m asking what they have explicitly stated about such goals.

Obsidian tries to stick to commonmark. Off the top of my head there are two additions (wikilinks and comments) and one difference (for performance, an HTML block must be contained in one markdown block). Other differences are due parsers bugs and will eventually be addressed.

If the incompatibility with other tools is due an Obsidian deviation from Commonmark, you can file a bug report and it will be threated as a bug.

If the incompatibility with other tools is due to other reasons, you can open a feature request and it will be voted/evaluated on a case by case basis.


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