Native Flashcard Feature: Enhancing Knowledge Acquisition and Retention / Spaced Repetition

Dear Obsidian Development Team,

I trust this message finds you well. I am a committed user of Obsidian and have found immense value in the power and flexibility of your platform. Thank you for your continued commitment to innovation and for your dedication to enhancing user experience through regular updates and upgrades.

Today, I am writing to propose a feature enhancement that, I believe, could greatly benefit users in their pursuit of knowledge. I would like to suggest the incorporation of a native flashcard feature into the Obsidian app, akin to the functionality provided by platforms such as Remnote.

Flashcards have proven to be a simple yet extremely powerful tool for knowledge acquisition and retention. They are particularly useful for breaking down complex subjects into smaller, more digestible units of information, and for enabling repetitive and active recall, both of which are key to long-term memory formation. As such, a built-in flashcard function would be a valuable addition to Obsidian, complementing the current note-taking and knowledge management features wonderfully.

I envisage this feature to be capable of generating flashcards directly from notes and PDFs, with the ability to include links for deeper exploration of subjects. This would be a boon to researchers, students, and lifelong learners alike, enhancing their ability to learn, remember, and connect information.

Moreover, I would like to consider the possibility of a cooperative effort with the Anki team. Anki’s spaced repetition system is highly effective and well-regarded in the educational tech industry. By incorporating Anki’s tried-and-tested learning methodology into Obsidian, users could benefit from an optimal learning strategy within a platform they are already familiar with.

I understand that introducing such a feature would require significant resources and development time. Yet, given the potentially immense benefits to the user base, I believe it would be a worthy investment. The addition of a native flashcard system would only enhance Obsidian’s reputation as a leading tool for knowledge management and self-directed learning.

Thank you for considering this suggestion. I, along with many other Obsidian users, would greatly appreciate this enhancement, and we look forward to seeing how Obsidian continues to evolve in service of its mission to facilitate knowledge creation and discovery.

Best Regards,
Samb

7 Likes

I would like to add a supplementary note to my previous message regarding the potential implementation of a native flashcard feature.

In the vibrant Obsidian community, many talented developers have created plugins to address various niche requirements, and we are genuinely appreciative of their efforts. Indeed, there are already several plugins available for integrating flashcards and spaced repetition into Obsidian.

However, there are several reasons why I advocate for a native, built-in feature instead of relying on community plugins:

  1. Reliability and Stability: A native feature developed by the core Obsidian team would potentially offer greater stability and reliability, considering it would be designed to work seamlessly with other features and updates. Community plugins, while incredibly useful, might present compatibility issues with each new Obsidian update.
  2. Longevity and Maintenance: Native features are continually maintained and improved by the Obsidian team. In contrast, community plugins depend on the dedication of individual developers who may or may not have the time or resources to keep their plugins updated and bug-free.
  3. Consistency and Ease-of-Use: A native flashcard system would ensure a consistent user experience across platforms and devices, which may not always be the case with community plugins. It would also likely adhere to Obsidian’s design philosophy, making it more intuitive and straightforward for users.
  4. Feature Integration: A native feature could be more tightly integrated with Obsidian’s existing capabilities, such as backlinks, block references, and more.

In conclusion, while we deeply appreciate the efforts of the Obsidian community and the variety of plugins available, a native flashcard feature, we believe, could offer a more seamless, reliable, and long-term solution for users.

Edit: This walkthrough of Remnote’s new flashcard home section is a great showcase of their native flashcard integration.

4 Likes

Just putting my support to this feature :+1:

I’d like to hear what the official team thinks about this feature, and how would they rank this feature compared to other new exciting features. New file format shouldn’t be against the big visions if we look Canvas. Obviously increasing the number of file formats used by the program makes the program less focussed in user and developer perspective. Similarly as with Canvas, we should ask how Flashcards should interact with the existing process of making notes. I give two examples:

  • page preview of internal links in cards
  • embedding notes to inside of cards

For example page preview could implicate that we can click links and do regular navigation while viewing the card. It’s not obvious what the process of cards review should look like, because there can be cards with two words or cards containing more content. This leads us to the question do we want flashcards at all, because Obsidian is more about notes.

2 Likes

Thank you for chiming in and lending your support to the native flashcard feature proposal.

I believe that incorporating a flashcard feature would not deviate from the core vision of Obsidian but rather enhance its usability and functionality. Yes, adding more file formats may risk diluting focus. However, I see flashcards not as a separate format, but as an extension of our current notes: interactive bite-sized portions that serve as an additional layer to our knowledge base.

Your ideas about the interplay between flashcards and Obsidian’s existing features are exciting and worth exploring.

  1. Page Preview of Internal Links in Cards: This could indeed be a fantastic feature that combines the active recall power of flashcards with Obsidian’s superb ability to interconnect information. Imagine studying a concept on a flashcard and being able to immediately navigate to related notes for a deeper understanding - it would make learning more dynamic and context-rich.
  2. Embedding Notes Inside of Cards: This brings up an interesting perspective. On one hand, we have brief, concise flashcards, and on the other, potentially lengthy, detailed notes. Bridging these two extremes could provide a unique, adaptable learning experience.

As to whether Obsidian needs flashcards at all, I think it boils down to the spectrum of learning strategies. Obsidian already excels at helping users create, organize, and link their notes. Adding a flashcard system would only extend its utility, catering to different learning styles and goals. After all, notes and flashcards serve complementary roles in learning: notes for in-depth understanding and flashcards for retention and recall.

1 Like

Fully agree with ur idea, nothing more to say ! :§

2 Likes

Thanks!

What’s the benefit of a native plugin vs a community plugin? There are already several impressive community plugins which you can use immediately, including several which integrate with Anki.

Aosr has a great review interface which runs directly in Obsidian:

While this feature request sounds exciting, it misses yet some concrete features (list) to make it useful and applicable for any kind of note. I understand this system isn’t strictly a flashcard thing, but rather a system to repeat important bits in our notes. Otherwise, i would suggest you to pick one of the many flashcard plugins available for Obsidian.

Anki is a very popular flashcard system however I’d not like to have Anki like interfaces for note retention. Let me tell why. Any button kind of “easy/good/hard” causes additional learning noise, it wasts time and breaks the flow.
The concept is simple: or you know the bits you’re learning or you don’t. Your answer is the decision trigger to move you forward in your flashcards stack and forward in your statistical correct / incorrect answer progress.

To start with some concepts, let’s ask some questions:

  • how should this flashcard system know, which words / sentences to copy / extract from to generate a flashcard?
  • would this flashcard system require a new interface ?
  • what Obsidian plugins are a good example to draw inspiration from?

Some inspiring plugins i remember:

  • Incremental writing
  • vocabulary view
  • flashcard learning
  • better reading mode

I think headings are a good starting point. Then generate cards based on folders or tags. I don’t think a flashcard system should force the user to make changes to the original notes. But obviously we want to store cards together with scheduling information. We should then ask what is the benefit of notes <<–>> flashcards interaction. This interaction should have two important characteristics: automation and smart card creation. I think a card should include a button that takes you to the original note, but in the same time you should be able go back and continue your flashcard session. One possible solution would be external flashcard system used with Obsidian URI but then the user should manually make every card. However I don’t think this manual work would be pointless because it’s far from obvious what information the card should contain. And finally there are users from different fields like sports, arts and science. I think it’s impossible to automatically generate useful cards to every user. Note-based review sessions are one option though but there should be at least a prompt asking questions (and again this requires manual configuration).