Viewable links to block reference

I’m a fairly new convert to Obsidian from Roam, and there’s one thing that keeps me from fully embracing Obsidian - inline references to linked blocks. I’ve spent quite a bit of time building my own cross-reference library based on imported Bible text from sermon notes I’ve taken over the years, and in Roam I’m able to navigate to a chapter page and see all the other notes that link to that specific block:

This is essential for my study workflow as it allows me to start on a sermon notes page with an embedded block reference for the verse, then go that block (as seen in the above screenshot, and see all the other notes pages where that verse was mentioned. I then like to open those notes in the sidebar and look at all of those notes together when studying.

Use case or problem

I’ve found the Bible Study in Obsidian Kit extremely useful, but unfortunately Obsidian doesn’t have a way like Roam does to see note references for a particular block (note how there’s nothing after the verses in Obsidian’s Preview mode):

Proposed solution

It would be great if 1) Obsidian displayed the reference to the block, 2) those references could be viewed inline. For example, here’s what you see when you “Click for References” in Roam:

Currently there is no way me to study my notes like this in Obsidian, but I would like to be able to see the References and then open the ones I want to view in separate panes.

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19 posts were merged into an existing topic: Break out h1+ blocks in file as additional nodes on the graph view

I’m a fairly new convert to Obsidian from Roam, and there’s one thing that keeps me from fully embracing Obsidian - inline references to linked blocks. I’ve spent quite a bit of time building my own cross-reference library based on imported Bible text from sermon notes I’ve taken over the years, and in Roam I’m able to navigate to a chapter page and see all the other notes that link to that specific block:

This is essential for my study workflow as it allows me to start on a sermon notes page with an embedded block reference for the verse, then go that block (as seen in the above screenshot, and see all the other notes pages where that verse was mentioned. I then like to open those notes in the sidebar and look at all of those notes together when studying.

Use case or problem

I’ve found the Bible Study in Obsidian Kit extremely useful, but unfortunately Obsidian doesn’t have a way like Roam does to see note references for a particular block (note how there’s nothing after the verses in Obsidian’s Preview mode):

Proposed solution

It would be great if 1) Obsidian displayed the reference to the block, 2) those references could be viewed inline. For example, here’s what you see when you “Click for References” in Roam:

Currently there is no way me to study my notes like this in Obsidian, but I would like to be able to see the References and then open the ones I want to view in separate panes.

12 Likes

This would a be a great new feature indeed! Thank you for sharing your workflow. +1 from here

Welcome, Mike! (Oddly I just finished listening to yours and Joe’s review of How to Take Smart Notes yesterday, and I made an action item to tweet Joe about Obsidian’s vim support—would you tell him for me? :wink:)

A workaround for this might be to create each block as it’s own note, then create page notes that transclude each chapter’s verses. You could then go to each verse’s note to see references, etc.

This would be tedious to do manually, of course, but wouldn’t be that hard to create a plugin or automation for it. If this were easy, would it work for your workflow?

I’ll also note that this has been previously requested…
edit: maybe not? I have to look harder for the previous thread…
edit 2: indeed, no previous request. I was wrong! Though I’m sure this has been discussed before…

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This would be a great feature for sure.

Even though it doesn’t look related, this is tied to:
https://forum.obsidian.md/t/modifying-block-id-in-original-page-should-modify-as-well-in-page-related/7294/1
https://forum.obsidian.md/t/auto-update-links-to-headers-on-header-title-change/289/1

2 Likes

I’m was just on the fence of going the other direction: Consolidating book annotations that are currently in individual notes to one note per book like @mikeschmitz example above.

My motive for that was to make the graph more usable. As it is today, since atomic notes from one book are tightly linked to each other, the graph is becoming increasingly hard to “read”.

But I’ve also foreseen the problem Mike illustrates with backlinks on block level missing.

What @ryanjamurphy suggest is an interesting thought. Having a plug-in that could “explode” markdown exports from Readwise into separate notes, with the quote from the source as a markdown blockquote and the annotations as standard text below and then rebuild a consolidated book note with transclusions with all individual notes would be really useful, I think!

Something along those lines for the individual notes:

—-
tags:
source: [[book note with all other notes transcluded]]
—-
> quote (page number)
Annotation

Hey Mike, glad to hear the kit provided value for you! Is having each verse as a h6-header (as in the kit) a (temporary) solution for you?

That way you can still link to a specific notes and it displays backlinks, although not for each individual verse.

@Joschua the problem is I have years of notes like this that I transferred to Roam. If you look at the reference numbers just from that Romans 12 screenshot, I would see 100+ backlinks and most of them would be irrelevant when I want to study a verse or two. So unfortunately, I don’t think headers help me (unless I’m misunderstanding, which is quite possible as I’m still kicking the tires on Obsidian).

@ryanjamurphy individual verses is probably the temporary workaround, but I spent an entire day trying to get just the chapters into Obsidian because I don’t have any experience with scripting. A plugin would be even better :slight_smile:

If someone’s willing to help me with this, I’d love to test it out. Though I still personally believe block references are only half implemented until you can follow the linked references.

2 Likes

I would actually prefer a “tooltip” type solution like e-sword’s implemented. In editor, it’d be in “tooltip” format, but when previewed, it’d type out or at least put the reference in the notes. Maybe a setting for it.
As I’ve said in other threads, I’d prefer not to try to re-invent the wheel by pulling all of the Bible into Obsidian, but being able to pull references from biblegateway, BLB, or another source of choice, even maybe a local bbx file from e-sword (that’d be the dream for me, but I know that’d be complicated).

That would be nice, but is very different than what I am requesting. I basically want the ability to create my own cross-reference library based on notes that I’ve taken. I’m not after a reference for the original text, I’m trying to link ideas together.

IMHO this is the kind of thing that tools like Obsidian are built for. Honestly kind of surprised to run into this roadblock.

The trick is that Obsidian’s fundamental principle (all files are just markdown files) clashes a bit with this kind of feature. Obsidian doesn’t necessarily know which block is which at all times—that is, without a layer built on top of those files, parsing each block and generating the UI you’re looking for. I suspect it’s doable, it’s just non-trivial, and hasn’t been done yet.

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Makes sense. I guess the workaround for now is to make 30,000+ individual text files? :joy:

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No need! I got it. And I’m well aware. Was one of the first things I discovered. :wink:

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Oh, you’ve been here this whole time! how awkward of me

Great, though. Was one of those yelling at podcast moments!

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@ryanjamurphy I pointed him to this thread. He’s helping me not make 30,000 text files by hand :wink: (but his real motivation is getting me off of Roam as quickly as possible :joy:)

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Oh, that reminds me! The Note Extractor plugin can do some of the work, if you choose to go the route of taking some of these verses out into their own notes. Otherwise I’m sure @joebuhlig has it covered :wink:

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A quick shell script can do wonders. :wink:

At the moment it’s all split out into individual text files by verse. Right now we’re just waiting for the app to catch up with indexing and such. Any tips on encouraging that process?

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