The three reasons I (currently) don't use Obsidian for creative work

I used to have three major uses for Onenote- knowledge management, Scheduling, and creative work. When it stopped receiving updates was actually when I discovered Obsidian, and Markdown in general. Currently, Obsidian fills one of those roles- knowledge management. It is equally well-equipped for scheduling, but I still use Onenote because moving over is a hassle. Though I have tried, I still don’t feel that Obsidian is ready to replace Scrivener, Onenote, or Notion for creative work. These are the three… not so much flaws, as areas that could be improved-- that are currently obstacles.

  • Reason 1: WYSIWYG editing
    Some people like raw markdown, some people don’t, some people want something in between. The way to go is definitely some sort of toggle, assignable via hotkey, to go through whatever modes are eventually implemented.
    I’m going to include something else here- editing location memory. What I mean is when you click away from a note, then click back, either your scroll or your cursor location is saved. When referencing other documents, or while presenting something, it is a real hassle to find your exact place again. Maybe this would be only temporary, stored in RAM, or it could be saved in some sort of index file. While not really related to WYSIWYG, it is a nice quality-of-life feature.

  • Reason 2: Subpages
    I am well aware of how Obsidian stores data- markdown files in a set of folders. The enormous advantage to this is that there is total flexibility with how you store your data. I personally store it on Onedrive, then reference it from multiple machines and edit it with Typora. The disadvantage is that markdown files cannot have subpages. They are files, not the “objects” or “nodes” of Onenote or Cherrytree, respectively. I did propose a solution for this, one that I think would do well as a plugin or third-party extension at a later date. Obsidian could display pages and folders with the same name as a single object. This would require only a minimal change to the interface, but would make visual connections–an important part of Obsidian for most–a good bit easier. A single click is far more efficient than locating the folder with the same name, however it is sorted, and expanding that.

  • Reason 3: Custom Sorting
    Pretty much every similar application (Well… I say every, but obviously there are exceptions. I think Evernote didn’t do this for a while. And a lot of barebones markdown editors don’t have any sorting at all) has some sort of customizable order, be it drag and drop or set parameters. Though this would require a bit of finagling to achieve the visual effect, the custom order could be stored in the .obsidian folder, in an index. On launch, the program would make a quick check of the folder, adding and removing files as needed. Obviously an option to disable this might be necessary for extremely complex folders.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts! There have been some pretty great strides in the QOL department lately, and I hope to see more in the future!

14 Likes

only Ulysses i know to manage manual sorting (via .directory-settings-files) and it’s good.
i could eventually accept an autorename of the files with numerical suffix (so they are ordered also in the Finder and other apps.

There will probably be a writer’s plugin at some point.

I use Obsidian for what it does better than my previous system, otherwise I continue with what I’m used to. That means a lot of creative stuff is in Obsidian, and I’ve no need for extra functions.

Long texts in Obsidian can be navigated with headers and the outline pane. That also allows folding into the headers.

Texts done in different documents can be moved around using an outline file.
Nested list with document links being separate items on the list. That gives a simple hierarchical sequence, with individual items moved easily.

1 Like
  1. I use Typora for the same reason. I know this is on Obsidian roadmap though, I saw it somewhere.
  2. I didn’t get your subpage issue. Why don’t you just link ?
  3. I’m using Zettel IDs and that way sorting by name=creation date that is pretty much consistent on everything I use: finder, Alfred, obsidian, Typora and 1writer.
2 Likes

@StefanoCecere I could accept a compromise like that too. I’ve thought about the viability of storing application data in commented HTML, that Obsidian would automatically hide. This seems like it would have side effects though. A plugin for numbering files with a suffix would be alright too.

@Dor I hadn’t thought about setting up a specific outline file. That might work for smaller pieces that you need to compose and compile, but I feel it could get pretty messy with the kind of worldbuilding and tracking that I tend to do. A writer’s plugin would be pretty sweet though.

@Pda0 Yep, WYSIWYG is on the roadmap. I still can’t wait though! As for the subpages, the problem is mostly an organizational one. Say I have a “locations” directory for some sort of fictional project. Within that, I have a page for each town. But then I would also wish to have pages “underneath” the towns’, for characters, specific buildings, and other granular details. The two options would be to create a separate folder elsewhere, with all relevant pages linked, and trust that nothing is forgotten or lost. Or each town page could have its own corresponding folder, and Obsidian would display the two as a single object. This would really be just a small change to the UI, but it would emulate the functionality of a node-based app.

2 Likes

There’s more flexibility using a mix of tags and links. Allows characters to move between towns.
Folders are a very limiting way to manage this sort of thing.

Needn’t be messy at all using the outline pane. Mimics the setup in Scrivener with the addition of multiple links.

I agree with @Dor, why don’t you link instead?

Maybe what you want is transclusion ? To embed one note into another ?

Maybe I’m misunderstanding something (possible since I just got v0.8.1), but the Outline pane seems to only index a single file. This is of course useful, but it’s not really what I’m looking for. And yes, tags and links are essential. But still, having section be its own page is even more flexible than having headings. It allows you to drag and drop, quickly duplicate, or draft in a neater way than copying and pasting text within a document.

Have you tried transclusion? ![[note filename]] will show the whole note in that position

1 Like

I am looking to migrate from Notion to Obsidian and feel the same pains. I don´t really need a WYSIWYG editor, but subpages and custom sorting are critical.

2 Likes

LOL, the alternative way to type[[ to trigger the creation of a new blank file which act as a subpage is already working