Why Obsidian needs better block support

Tldr;

Obsidian should improve its support of blocks and block references because:

  • It would reduce friction in capturing and finding information later

  • We know it’s possible with markdown (see Logseq)

  • This will make Obsidian even more appealing to potential users

Disclaimer: There is a strong chance that I am missing something completely about obsidian functionality. If that is the case, I would love for you to let me know.

Background:

My PKM journey: Notion → Roam → flirted with Obsidian → Logseq → Obsidian/Tana.

I begrudgingly moved to Obsidian (but love it) because:

  • folders and files are useful

  • the available plugins are unrivalled

  • it’s a great place to write

  • longevity of notes

I’m currently using Tana to capture specific types of notes to query later.

Blocks

The block-based paradigm was a bit of a revolution in note-taking and knowledge management.

The idea is to treat each bullet point, each little node, as an atomic unit. So rather than treating the file as what is most crucial, apps like Roam, Tana, and LogSec, are all focused on blocks.

Obsidian has support for blocks, but the available functionality is basically nowhere close to being useful. Obsidian search will display results for blocks that have a specific tag, for instance, but you can’t see all the information available and browse it easily and make them all accessible in a click.put it, which folder" etc, all you need to do is add the content and tag it, and you’ll be able to find it later.

Examples of these sorts of things include:

  • quotes you come across

  • Books you want to read, movies you want to watch

  • Ideas

  • etc

Here’s an example of a query in Logsec that shows me all blocks that have the tag #great quotes

Blocks are perfect for things that are useful but don’t quite deserve their own file, but they might down the track.

The success of this block-based paradigm is abundantly clear with the rising popularity of apps like Roam, Tana, Logseq, Reflect etc.

Obsidian & Blocks

Obsidian has support for blocks, but the available functionality is basically nowhere close to being useful. Obsidian search will display results for blocks that have a specific tag, for instance, but you can’t see all the information available and browse it easily and make them all accessible in a click.

For me, this is not-quite-but-nearly useless, as I have to spend a lot of effort trying to find exactly what i’m looking for.

Minimum requirements

Adding block support in Obsidian to the level of other block-based apps is not necessary for this to be a super useful feature. The minimal requirements here in my mind are:

From the outset, property support is not required, just tag support would be such a huge, huge gain. Property support could definitely be added, though!

Why this should be a high priority

  • Most Obsidian users use the daily notes page: I’m not sure about the numbers, but I would assume that a substantial portion, probably more than half of Obsidian users, use the Daily Notes feature. Increased support for blocks would deliver a lot more value to everyone.

  • Revenue: Block-level support is a must-have feature for a lot of folks in the PKM space, (myself included), if Obsidian improved block functionality, more people might switch to Obsidian.

  • It’s possible: Logseq is a block-based pkm tool, and it’s entirely markdown-based.

Anyway – curious to hear anyone’s thoughts!

4 Likes

Logseq is an outliner that uses a database (similar to Roam in structure). Using files brings problems and it’s trying to move entirely to the database.
https://discuss.logseq.com/t/database-version-too-drastic-choice/20346

This is possible already using the internal query mechanism but your need to do some gymnastics.

Here’s the relative feature request

If you search the forum you’ll find more scoped FR that cover the block-based workflow. Moved to meta category.

Nice! Thanks for mentioning, i’ll do some digging.

Thanks for sharing the relevant FR as well

Ahh thanks for sharing, wasn’t aware of them exploring other options

Here’s what I’m doing at the moment. It’s hacky. Wondering if you found something better?

  1. Installed “Better Search Views” plugin, which gives more context in the backlinks view
  2. I create parent bullets with the relevant tag(s) and then put the content as sub-bullets.
  • Pros: Original notes don’t have a bunch of tags and long links included on every line. I can include many relevant parent links.
  • Cons: The content on the page gets broken up and is less readable because of the parent links. I have to manage the sort of the backlinks displayed in Better Search

Example:


Some header

  • [[Jokes to tell at my daughter later]]
    • Molly told me a very funny joke today:
      • Knock knock… who’s there?..
    • Actually, it’s not that funny

Then on the “Jokes to tell my daughter later” page in the backlinks area, there is a link to the note and all the sub-bullets are shown together.