Obsidian: a toy or a productivity app?

I’ve been following the development of Obsidian for months and while I love the principle of Obsidian, I am worried that it started to become a toy!

I am a scientist/businessman and my interests are apps that provide productivity features that does not exist elsewhere, otherwise it is simply a waste of time…

Obsidian ver 0.9x seen more development in the graph view when focus should have gone to critically missing features such as:
1- Integration/import of Microsoft office files (word, excel and powerpoint) that are used by millions of users
2- Development of distractions free, seamless live preview as in Typora
3- More seamless support of math and latex.
and many others…

It feels that Obsidian started on the right path and now it is becoming a toy for happiest rather than serious work. For that reason, I prefer and use Typora for now, despite its limitations.

I look forward to seeing Obsidian developers change of track towards a more productive app.

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Obsidian can do ‘productivity’ but there’s no shortage of apps with that as their core.

1- I think Obsidian ought to allow any file to be dragged in with a button for opening in default program. I assume you have supported the various linked feature requests. I don’t see much chance of Office files being integrated or content imported: there are already ways of converting such files outside Obsidian and for Obsidian to integrate these would mean converting in and then converting back out with potential for error both ways; easier to just have a link and open in original program.
2- WYSIWYG is on the roadmap.
3- math and latex exists already and they’re not likely to be used by most users, and potential users even less. Very important for some. Presumably you have submitted precise feature requests for making support more seamless.

For me, the Obsidian approach is highly productive.

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Agreed.

Obsidian should enable the referencing of .DOCX, .XLSX, .PPTX, .PDF and many other filetype with a possibility to open them in their respective Applications (or system default app which mostly is the same thing). Don’t know when that is going to be delivered though.

For me Obsidian is (allthough in Beta) a very good bet for the future!

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It’s possible, but an unnecessarily convoluted workflow to do it. Dragging in, as with images and PDFs is much easier.

It’s a start. Wasn’t aware of this yet.
Thanks for sharing :pray:

If one needs perfection right now – the theme of this thread, I understand – sure, it’s not what the OP is looking for. But it’s not convoluted – KeyboardMaestro handles the whole chore for me.

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Obsidian is a powerful knowledge base that works on top of
a local folder of plain text Markdown files.
It is not a productivity app; and it is already almost perfect for what it is meant to be.

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Having to set it up makes it more convoluted, especially if you prefer using a mouse. KM and equivalents are very useful, especially when the same instruction is applied in many programs, but if it’s just one it’s a workaround.

I realize this reply is going to be harsh, but I think it’s warranted, and apologies, but I am frustrated.

@qithend, this is an unhelpful and unfair critique. It’s also a bit incendiary. What’s the point, besides creating division between users and trying to guilt-trip the devs?

Essentially, your post boils down to “I am frustrated that the developers have not built my feature requests.” You have cherry-picked feature development examples that fit this narrative, ignoring the launch of:

  • Publish,
  • all kinds of bug fixes,
  • workspaces,
  • hover preview improvements,
  • copy search results, and
  • interactive checkboxes in embeds.

…and that’s just 0.9.2 and 0.9.3, releases that came out in the past week.

Wanting your use-cases to be met is fine. However, there is no need to cast other users’ needs and use cases as “toys,” nor is it necessary to use such a pulpit to try to elevate your “not-toys.” It would be more constructive to voice your specific needs as feature requests (or find the threads where others have already done so and support them with likes/additional details in commentary.

For instance:

  1. Insert/Embed other file formats like .xlsx and .docx (but not limited to) in addition to pdf and images
  2. A WYSIWYM (Typora-like) editing mode
  3. Proper LaTeX support for formulas, maybe? I don’t know what “more seamless” means—again, be specific.

One of the reasons this community is so healthy is because members strive to specify their needs with details and build up others’ in constructive ways. One of the reasons Obsidian’s development pace is so swift is because the developers are incredibly talented product managers, able to work on the “big rocks” of major features while finding lots of time for little Quality-of-Life improvements. There’s no way to develop every feature all at once.

Please try to reframe your hopes and dreams with a more generous perspective of others’ needs and wants in the future, and with more patience for the design and development process.

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Entirely seconded, and thank you for saying so :slightly_smiling_face:

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Oh…it was warranted!!! And, I couldn’t have said it better.

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Just weighing in with my two cents.

I think any app or note taker has to balance fun/prettyness with productivity, and I think Obsidian is doing a fantastic job of it.

For me to use an app, I need it to have a base set of features I’m looking for, but it also needs to be clean, distraction free, and inspiring. To be honest, if I wasn’t able to add custom CSS to take away a bunch of the borders/clutter and disable some plugins, I probably wouldn’t use the app, because too much clutter is uninspiring to me.

But with how toggleable and customizeable everything is in Obsidian, I’m able to fine tune it exactly as I want. With obsidian, I’ve been able to replace Ulysses, Notion, and DayOne–as well as 95% of my Apple Notes. And even moreso, I’m able to connect these things in ways I never before possible. That is game changing.

I think there is a small issue of expectations and while there may be a valueable critique underneath the original post, it could have been worded way better. I do find it offensive that you would call other people’s use-cases a “toy” just because the features aren’t directly useful to you. I also find it a bit ungrateful when you consider that 1) its a free program 2) its beta software and 3) the release schedule has been insanely fast.

tl;dr. Be patient. Or don’t. I know they have a great refund policy

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Totally valid reply. I had exactly the same feeling when reading the initial post. I was online when it was posted - I also felt the need to directly reply…
I was a bit hesitant doing so and luckily because my response would probably be considered “harsh”. So I decided to follow the rules and reply positively even if my “gut-feeling” was different.
Therefor: I totally want to second the response of @ryanjamurphy!
And I do believe the Devs are doing a great job!!!

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the choice to belittle an entire user base because one did not immediately get their feature requests met from a two dev team is quite strange. obsidian is not a productivity app. use the WSIWYG css. what in the world.

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I would like to say that the fundamental premise of your criticism does not align well with Obsidian. In other words, I think you have misunderstood what Obsidian is.

Obsidian is not a productive app. It is branded as a knowledge base, and the feature that the developers have enabled (so far) fit into this description. You can argue that a knowledge base should enable productivity, and I’d agree. But even then, what makes you productive may not be what makes others productive.

What would have shifted the development towards the direction you prefer is reasons why such and such should have been implemented. Lacking any argument, I cannot see this as anything more than a pointless ranting.

I realize my tone is harsh, but I don’t appreciate the statements of the kind oh-they-should-have-done-this-and-that while not even entertaining the possibility that your understanding of the direction the app is taking is not comprehensive, and not providing any reason that would have led you to making such statements.

What I think this thread is, is simply not constructive.

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I think it is a little harsh to deride Obsidian as a toy. It is an open project to create a knowledge base built upon markdown files. I personally believe in the project which is why it is one of the first software projects that I have financially supported. I am also already using it in anger for some of my professional work.

Sure there are some features which would be helpful, although the team are rather open and you can post feature requests under the designated section. I think the most conducive thing there would be to post your requirements as requests and perhaps (this is assuming) walk-through how you would use it. E.g. I would love to be able to view and use SVG files as normal images, since I use them a lot within reports and also have a library of them. That’s why after searching I found a request and added my support to that request. Personally, I don’t use the graph but I can see that this is a draw for others, particularly those interested in ROAM.

As it stands, the software has a good community, and it is free, and developing. I reckon you could contribute in your own way, but you also need to recognise that it will not be all things to all people, and that it may take a while before your requests are supported.

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Whether or not Obsidian is a toy or a productivity app depends on how you use it.

Before I switched to using Obsidian I treated the app like a toy. I made a couple files, played with the graph, and then closed the application to not re-open it for 9 days. Then I reopened the app again, made a couple file changes, and close it again.

Since I didn’t really use Obsidian for its purpose, it was more of a gimmick and toy. I probably didn’t even use 10% of the features during that initial period.

But once I switched to using Obsidian in my daily workflow, and committed to learning the app and its features, it became an incredible productivity tool. My note taking in Obsidian works much smoother than I used before, I can find my earlier notes with ease, and my general learning efficiency is higher.

For me Obsidian (and every other app for that matter) is that you need to put something in, before you can get something valuable out of it.

As an analogy, if you use a calendar app and only put your birthday on it, then you can’t really call the calendar just a toy or an unfinished product. :slight_smile:

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Obsidian is getting closer and closer to the app I’ve been dreaming of for years. I couldn’t care less for .doc and .xls and .ppt, but I won’t be surprised or disappointed if the the devs implement those features — I’ll just not use them, I guess. For some, the graph is a fun gimmick; for me, it’s a powerful tool and the recent update has done wonders for my workflow.

What I’m saying is that despite not being a productivity app, as you seem to assume, Obsidian is catering to a multitude of happy users with very different needs, and people tend to realize and respect that.

If you feel that things are taking a direction contrary to your expectations, you are, of course, free to express your frustration (preferably in a nicer tone), but shouldn’t be surprised when you get these replies from those who, like me, appreciate Obsidian’s inclusive development.

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All the comments are valid. There is 1 more that can be added, which, after all is said an done, is the bottom line: take it or leave it, the choice is yours, no one is forcing you to use it.

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I think branding Obsidian as a “this” or a “that” (be it productivity or knowledge management or creative sandpit or reference library… whatever) is the real mistake here. As with any tool, there are use cases which do not fit, so you have to move on, or use something else. If you wanted “everything” you could always use emacs!

So I think the OP, to give some credit here, might have posted because of Obsidian’s strengths, and because it is such a joy to use, but doesn’t necessarily tick all of the boxes yet.

You can make of Obsidian what you will… but I have yet to find an app which allows such elegance and ease of use for linked document creation. Sure, there are features which I would love to see implemented. But that’s true of any piece of software, and here is the place to ask for them… at least we can ask!

I also do not think that “toy” is a bad thing either… no offence intended either way to Obsidian devs or to the OP. I’ll be honest, I like toys. As the releases say “shiny new things” which is one of the reasons I support this product, it is both serious and fun to use.

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