For me, while some of the features are there via the basic Markup text editor, they aren’t well integrated and useful for a true Outliner mode, like Logseq or Roam. It’s currently clunky in Obsidian to curate thoughts and move sections around.
It’s really the combination of these Outliner elements that originally made the super-clean Workflowy UI so popular (and inspired Roam).
For example, in Obsidian, while you can start with a bullet and can then automatically generate a bullet on the next line, you aren’t held in that mode and can easily break out via normal editing, like backspacing, etc. It’s “fragile.”
Of course, you can’t easily drag bullet sections around (by default).
Small touches matter as well. For example, the fold triangle is present all the time vs hover only which just adds extra visual complexity to the workspace that isn’t needed (vs. Workflowy or Roam where hovering the line reveals the fold triangle and is a nice visual touch to remind there is more tucked underneath).
That’s what I love about Obsidian, is their attention to detail around the UI and how clean it is. Would love to have a single tool for both outlining and writing and hoping they bring the same clean UI to an integrated Outliner mode.
Yes to all of this! I’ve found it hard to put into words just why apps like Roam are so much easier to outline in vs Obsidian which technically has the ability to outline but just doesn’t feel the same. I think you explained it well.
Even a basic outliner mode would be so appreciated in Obsidian. If every new line could automatically be a bullet and allow shift/shift+tab, it would be amazing. But of course, everything is easier said than done.
+1 here from an OmniOutliner user. The current TAB situation in my notes is a total mess, indenting/outdenting is not consistent, sometimes it seems to cover two tabs instead of one; I tried indenting in VIM mode and that introduced a third length of the tab space. It all looks ugly and distracting.
I envision outlining entirely from the keyboard, so that, no matter where the cursor is in a line:
[ ] Line can be indented, no effect elsewhere
[ ] Line can be indented, carrying with it its sub-levels (so that each one will get a further indentation)
[ ] Line can be outdented, no effect elsewhere
[ ] Line can be outdented, carrying with it its sub-levels (so that each one will get a further outdentation)
[ ] A new line can be added above, retaining current level (currently possible but it doesn’t retain checklist box)
[ ] A new line can be added below, retaining current level (currently possible but it doesn’t retain checklist box)
[x] Line can be deleted (currently possible)
[x] Line can be split at cursor, creating new line with same outlining style (bullet, number, list; currently possible)
[ ] Line can join up its parent or line above (i.e. cut the whole line, get rid of bullet, add a space to line above, append)
[ ] Header above gets folded
[x] Checklist status can be toggled (currently possible)
[x] Line can be moved up/down (currently possible)
[x] Line can be toggled between styles (currently possible)
If I had to sum it up, I’d say that Obsidian outlining feels way too precious compared to other tools.
For me, I’ve found that bullet based outlining in Obsidian (Using minimal theme with vertical lines turned on in the the Minimal plug-in) works and displays better than Markdown header based outlining, but even that requires the cursor to be in just the right place and copying, moving things around often breaks things.
I would really like to see some enhanced tab behaviour along the features described in this thread.
Especially being able to hit tab to indent a bullet list line even when I am not right next to the bullet point but anywhere within the line would help… Also being able to move items around/reorder them …
I’ll add block inline embeddings. Maybe not a feature inherent to an outliner, but certainly helpful since the outlining experience is all about ideas flowing. Obsidian already has block embeddings but the way they show breaks the flow of the outline.
A Logseq and Obsidian collaboration / integration would be awesome! But until then, I’m just hoping for some basic outlining improvements to make it more usable for me during ideation (mainly… stick to bullet mode, better tabbing, and drag & drop section capability).