Weary of Community Plugins – Help?

I am new to Obsidian and I think I am already obsessed with it! In the interest of keeping my Vault (and Zettelkasten) as future-proof, fool-proof (me, I am the fool!), fast, etc. as possible I am trying to avoid unnecessary plugins, code, etc. in my notes and templates.

So, long story short, I am weary about community plugins. I am certain that some of them would be immensely valuable to my use case (in particular, the “Citations” plugin – I am PhD student in the Humanities and my Vault is for my research)… but it does seem to add a possible weakness or vulnerability to my system – at the very least, something new that can also break! The simplicity of the .md files on my computer is very attractive – am I missing out on essential features by being so concerned about community plugins?

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I can’t speak to this in general, but a lot of plugins (including the Citations one) is just to make your life easier now.
E.g., if the Citations plugin breaks or whatever happens with it, you’ll still have your md files and will be able to read them. It just makes it easier to insert a citation into it right now. So I don’t really see the danger with respect to future-proofing in that.
Others, like dataview, may be different; they add something to your notes that you won’t be able to read without them (or w/o something similar).
So, I think you can look into the plugins on a case-by-case basis and see which category they fall into.

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This is helpful, thank you. I guess my worry is inconsistent since Obsidian itself might break …

With Citations, in particular, I am currently planning on just manually inserting some identifying information on the notes I am taking. I don’t think that is a total substitute for a proper plugin, and it’s time consuming, but I guess it promotes one less worry?

@atiz : how do you propose distinguishing between Citations and data view? Are there certain community plugins that really are essential? (I am new, so I’m not even really sure what is out there – and I am certainly worried about breaking things before I begin!)

Thanks for the reply!

I don’t use the Citation plugin, but since everything is stored as md files – which are future proof – I dont’ see the issue. If Obsidian goes belly-up, you’ll have all your notes in the .md format. From what I can tell Citation gives you a slew of templates and other short-cuts when creating notes.

Worst Case Scenario:
You have to change your process, but the note remains the same.

To put it in a meme:

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Thank you, this is helpful!

I guess I am trying to understand how Obsidian works. It seems like the utilization and integration of a plugin into the app only risks impacting how the app works, right? Or, with Citations (or the other plugins) they are really just .md files that are referenced upon use? If that’s the case, I don’t have to worry about “breaking” anything…

Your first question is the crux of it, I think. Plugins impact how the app works. Citation and other plugins simply facilitate a “better” workflow sometimes be creating md files or providing templates or helping you out in other ways.

See, that seems unfortunate to me? My concern is that the plugin could have a detrimental impact. The check back is, presumably, that there are a lot of people using the plugin and that it is open source… but then I need to negotiate that for myself.

The other part of this, then, is that I don’t really know how it impacts the app. I guess I don’t really know how the app itself works, which itself is an issue. But, just like with cars, I don’t introduce foreign elements into them even if they are (and always already are) mysterious to me…

At last check, I have 54 active plugins. None have caused data loss, and 20% of them deliver a lot of value in the form of additional functionality and workflow optimization. If they all went away, I would still have everything I wrote, and still have the linkage between all the things I wrote. Some of my notes would have extra stuff (code blocks) but those are not usually something I put in ‘real’ content files anyway, but more like daily logs and organizational notes rather than content notes.

And they’re fun, frankly :slight_smile:

YMMV

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Anyone got a rational argument for the safety of using unofficial plugins? Running arbitrary code seems a big risk — hence why Safemode is the default.

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They’re open source on github, so you can check the code yourself or pay someone you trust to check them for you.

Not to belabor this point, but there are (or, must be) some risk to community plugins. This post on the subreddit suggest as much:

@koala I think the plugins being open-source should enough to ward off most dangers.

@bobkitz Seems like a lot of plugins. Have you found that the application has slowed down with so many integrated into your app? (I also realize it is silly to care about the “extra stuff” left over from broken apps, but I guess I might? To avoid it being a nuisance you would just move it to a part of the note that is easy to quickly replace or hide?)

Thanks for all the help everyone!!

The red dots usually happen when someone is editing a note and there is a power outage.

That’s what the file recovery core plugin (enabled by default) is for.

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@mportal100 haven’t noticed a slowdown except possibly when loading, but even then it’s just a few seconds. All of my computers are pretty fast though, so YMMV.

There are some plugins (Citations is like that) that basically just give you a shortcut. Sure, you can insert your citations manually; that’s what I used to do. But it’s kind of tedious and annoying if you have many, and you can spare a lot of time with that plugin. I think some others are like that too (Templater, etc.); you could do everything they do by hand, they just make life easier. If they ever break, you may have to retort to doing things by hand, but it won’t affect the .md files you already have.

I can’t speak of the security risks. I do use quite a few plugins and have not had problems. But this is a risk assessment each of us has to make on their own.

@mportal100
This is a file sync conflict. No data is lost in this case (unless it was a power failure). This happens when working on multiple devices at the same time and the sync software was unable to determine which file should be used. So, the sync software created this file which can be deleted. The original file would not have been lost.
It also happens as others have mentioned if there is a power failure.

On the topic of Plugins: I wouldn’t waste time worrying about them. Instead, use them to improve and streamline your workflow - they will! The notes you are creating are in markdown format. This format is Already Future Proof. The markdown files and plugins are in separate folders, so there really shouldn’t be an issue.

FYI, I think you mean “wary” rather than “weary”.

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I am in the same boat on being cautious about plugins. While they are obviously a sign of a generous, active, and enthusiastic community, and many can make things more convenient, they also are likely to introduce potential bugs, & additional dependencies, if not vulnerabilities. They also complicate the otherwise brilliant simplicity and power of obsidian core.

I also find that I can create a workflow that suits my use cases with some ingenuity without resorting to plugins.

YMMV

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