Transforming a Folder Structure into a Flat Properties Structure

One year of daily obsidian and around 3500 files and 93 folders later, I hope this is the right moment to finally transform my vault to a flat note structure.

After going through the recent properties updates as well as having a peek at Tanas Supertags, I decided to explore possible ways to automise the task of getting rid of all the folders (example file nested in a folder mess of notes/2023/2023-01/2023-01-01) and replacing it with tags (same example that file would have a property of #notes/2023/2023-01/2023-01-01).

I currently have:

  • tags that is used as a property for currently around 50 notes to represent their “being”
  • 10 main folders with various subfolders

Is there a way to do this and not have to go through each file? Maybe Metadata Menu Plugin could also help? Currently playing around with it.

Cheers, Maru

Why? If folders are working why not just keep them? Personally I use folders a lot myself and also linking. Right now I have about 75 folders and over 6200 files. What matters is how the structure works. A combination of folders and tags helps me with what I want to do and how I organize and think and look for things.

If you decide you have to move to a new structure then just start with that structure for all new notes and as you reference or link to old notes then convert them.

I think the benefits of a flat structure especially regarding the emergence of knowledge between I notes that are related but only outside of their folder structures has been widely discussed. There are for sure drawbacks but I have been feeling quite limited by the old fashion hierarchical rigidity (even though we can balance with tags/links/etc.) imposed by a folder structure.

Hence the suggestion to start for all new notes doing whatever you think you want to change to and verify it after a few months as you slowly adapt the old to the new. Until you try you won’t know if the new structure works any better than what you have now so why waste the effort of moving and changing everything at once? Over time the structure evolves to be what you need and can work with.

FWIW I started with a flat structure with only a few folders, Inbox, Top (that has my MOC notes), Templates, Journal, and Source (where book and article highlights and notes go). It tirned out to be harder to use once I moved all project management and task lists into Obsidian. So I slowly evolved into the current structure with folders for groups of projects like recurring ones for each season that happen every year and separate folders for each application in my AnimalTrakker® system, a set of folders that I publish with the AnimalTrakker® documentation, a Farley file for people, I pulled attachments like PDF, LPG and PNG documents out of the general vault into a separate folder for ease of manipulation on them and so on.

But I didn’t do it all at once and I didn’t try to go back and “fix” every file at the same time. Instead I just let it evolve naturally and then dueing use I can see that say, I had anote about a person that was buried so I’d move it to the Farley file folder, add the YAML template I’ve evolved for people and start to fill it out with as much info as I could. Each time I added or changed how I did things I just started it and then let it grow with my use.

Even with my folder system, there were several iterations of folder names and how I work with them that got abandoned. Over time their contents got slowly assimilated into the newer structure and when the old folders were finally empty I just deleted them and presto, new structure implemented.

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