Obsidian question: Why no real databases?


I am still new to Obsidian and I ask myself why the DataView plugin and the “misuse” of yaml front-matter to implement functionality that would in some cases better be solvable with an SQL or NoSQL Database file in your vault folder. Like in Firefox. The chronic and your bookmarks are saved in separate databases. Plugins can create databases.

And looking at an other Note taking tool - Notion - there is no problem creating databases with custom fields. Notion on the other hand lacks the ability to query those databases like DataView can with front matter fields.

Is this a design decision or technical limitations?

I am eager for the answer.

However, just let me telI that I think Obsidian is great anyway and it has helped me already - even without dataview - with its wiki-like notes. No more chaos with playing around with directories and textfiles on my harddrive just to take notes with some ordering.

As always…

Yours sincerely,

You are framing your question based on the assumption that there is a best solution. It’s all about pros/cons. Databases have pros. But Simple text files have too.
Longevity. Directly interpretable/editable. (as opposed to needing us support to query/visualize)

Dataview is a tool to embed and work with some structured data in text files.
However, If you are primarily dealing with large quantities of structured information or even if you just prefer that approch, Obsidian is not the right tool for you.

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structured information: yes
but I don’t aim for obsidian as a data-science tool. There is Jupyter for that for example.

And as you see with Notion, databases can be useful in a note-taking context. I see all these front-matter workarounds to implement time tables, schedules, cool dashboards, citation-management etc.

To me working with structured data beyond the relationships of notes with each other is not not a note-taking thing. I feel that the existence of DataView endorses this.

Again, it’s not about large amounts of data-points or something. Maybe it’s about some plots, yes. But in a rather small context. Like: “How many times do I cite the academic source {{Authors}}, [[[Year}}] in my notes?” Would be cool enough to have this as table output, but as a graphical plot it would be even more attractive and personally I feel it would fit notes.

Thanks for discussing this :wink:

Yours sincerely,

Dataview is a 3rd party community plugin. It’s (wonderful) functionality endorses nothing about Obsidian. Obsidian is a local text-based note-taking app. And yes, that is by design. It’s right on the first page of the website:

See this post for some explanation of this intentional design decision.


Ok if that is so then my question is answered. Thank you.

I could imagine the awesome of a “local folder…” + “database based” + “text Markdown files” + "(+ community plugins) " note taking tool. But it is obviously the very informed decision of the authors. Can’t say anything against that. Or I had to roll my own.

I just admire how flexible Obsidian is. How awesome it can get when the community of plugin-writers becomes even bigger.

So long :wink:

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