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Building a Second Brain with Obsidian

with Hung-Su Nguyen

When it comes to taking notes, there are a lot of different options. In this episode, Hung-Su will teach us about how you can use Obsidian to take beautiful notes!


Captions provided by White Coat Captioning ( Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

BEN: Welcome, everyone back to the second episode of Learn With Ben. For those who are familiar with the show and missed the episode, Jason is on vacation. He's off being a hipster on vacation and doing Portlandian things. I'm here to basically take over as a guest host. Jason will be back starting next week, but in the meantime, I'm really excited to be here with Hung-SU. Hung-SU, welcome to the show.

HUNG-SU: Thanks so much for introducing me, Ben. This should be a lot of fun.

BEN: Yeah, can you tell people a little bit about your background for those that don't know you.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, so, I'm an Aussie web UI engineer here in the United States. I'm extremely obsessed with writing notes, so I'm super keen to write some notes here with Ben.

BEN: Sounds good. And you're one of the lead front end engineers at Politico, right?

HUNG-SU: Yeah, that's right.

BEN: Well, in that case, let's go ahead ?? note? taking, this is something I know might seem a little abstract from the typical developer talk, but why is note taking important to you? Maybe that's a great place to start.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, I feel like note taking seems to form the backbone of almost every skill that you can think of. Every kind of walk of life. You can ?? people need to think, and to think, that can be so greatly enhanced with the note?taking methodologies that we use. Not just for us here in software engineering, but chefs, film directors, city planners, like every kind of discipline, you got to take notes, and it's so important to take them well.

BEN: Yeah, it certainly is. And so I guess over the course of the time, like, you know, today we're here, so for those who don't know, we're here to talk about Obsidian in particular. And, you know, with your journey with note?taking, what apps have you used kind of up until this point. We'll dive into Obsidian later, but maybe give some context for people

HUNG-SU: I feel I've gone through a similar journey compared to a lot of other people. I think a lot of people hopped on the Ever Note and one?note trains. I moved on to Dynalist. I wanted to look into local first forms of note?taking, since, like, all those other note?taking methods I used were web first, but we're going to be talking about local first note?taking that is many times better.

BEN: All right. Yeah, that's exciting. Well, in that case, let's go ahead and switch over then and dive into our topic at hand. Okay. It looks like ?? everyone, hopefully you can see my screen. So, yep, we're here to talk about Building a Second Brain With Obsidian. Before we jump into it, I want to give a shout?out to Jordan from White Coat Captioning who is here to make sure our show is captioned. Thank you for being here. Made possible by Netlify, Fauna, Auth0 and Hasura. So, with that, Hung-SU, where would you like to get started?

HUNG-SU: Yeah, so I guess we can talk a little bit about I guess the two connected themes which are, well, Obsidian and note?taking as a general discipline. So, Obsidian itself ?? so this is not the first time Obsidian has featured on this channel, right? We featured Obsidian on Tuesday.

BEN: We talked a little bit about it. I'm kind of a big Stan.

HUNG-SU: So, we will definitely talk more about other note?taking tools because there are so many, but in my opinion, Obsidian has the right combination of features that address really good long?term knowledge management. And I think that a lot of people run into some unfortunate scaling problems with knowledge management when they use other tools, and Obsidian has a lot of features that really take care of that stuff. So that's why we're choosing Obsidian over some of the other things. But some of the note?taking methods will translate to other tools. If you don't want to switch, you certainly don't have to.

BEN: Great. All right. Hello, Anna. What's up? Gosh, we got a lot of people in the chat. Loving it. And as always, please just like with Jason's show, if you have questions for us as we go, we'll be checking the chat periodically, so happy to answer questions as we go. With that said, do we think we should start by opening, like, a basic Obsidian Vault or what would you like to do?

HUNG-SU: Yeah, let's open up a brand?new Vault and let's start touring people through Obsidian and how we can start thinking a little differently about that.

BEN: Yeah, that sounds great. For those following along, we're going to create a new repo on Learn With Jason, so you can clone this, again, Obsidian, one thing we didn't even note, it's completely free. So, you can totally download it and play with it yourself once we have this repo set up. So, let's go and get that set up. This will be let's ?? learn ?? that's the model that Jason usually uses. Let's?learn?obsidian. Make it public and create a readme file. While we're getting that set up, why don't we talk about local first. What does that mean and how is this approach unique or one of the unique aspects of Obsidian?

HUNG-SU: Yeah, so, there's so many levels of this, isn't there? One of the big ones is that there have been so many data breaches of major Cloud Service Providers in the last however many years, and it feels a little bit like playing a game of Russian Roulette of trying to choose a provider that hasn't been hacked when it comes to storing our notes and very personal things. One of the nice things about local first is you don't have to worry about that. All your notes are yours. And the other really big thing with local first is that you can do performant things that are just really not possible when you have to pull your notes from the web every time. If you have them locally on your device, you can access them when you don't have an internet connection, which is another big thing. I'm sure a lot of you in this age of remote probably messing around with Wi?Fi. Not so great, but you still need your notes. You need them all the time. It is much better, in my opinion, to have them local all the time. You can always work with them so that you have that reliability. You can build that trust in your notes, that they are always there for you.

BEN: Yeah, that's an excellent point. So, again, for those who haven't ?? for those new to Obsidian, really what Obsidian does is manage a file or a folder on your computer that's full of markdown files. That's basically it's job. We're going to start by creating a new Vault. This is the UI for creating a Vault. So, we're going to go ahead and create here. Let's call this let's?learn?obsidian. This is the name of our vault. And then we simply point it at a folder we want to keep synced. So let's go ahead and do that. Let's jump back into the projects.

HUNG-SU: Great. And I see your message, and in all honesty, if we have hurt feelings, and I'm being very serious, writing notes and reading your own notes is extremely therapeutic, and I'm not even kidding. We might even get into that a little bit later today.

BEN: Yes, absolutely. When we talk about note?taking, it's often from the productivity angle of remembering things. You and I will have to talk about other ways we're using note?taking systems. That's a whole another thing.

HUNG-SU: Yes, there is that whole branch of note?taking as part of your productivity system to create output. Note?taking and note writing as a way of talking through the feelings and just tangle of things that are in your head. And as a creativity tool. So many directions we can go in. Okay. So, we have a new Vault

BEN: I'm going to go and click open. We'll see we've now pointed it. I'm going to hit create. All right. Here we go. And we have Obsidian open. So, let's ?? walk us through this, Hung-SU.

HUNG-SU: Okay. So, we have no file open, so we can create a new file in a bunch of different ways. So, we can do it the way that they are suggesting, which is command n, so I guess we can do that, but we can also create a file when we search for things, and this should be the ?? I think this should be the default for most people when they use Obsidian in the long term. And the reason for that is, why don't we start by creating a note that way.

BEN: Okay.

HUNG-SU: Yeah. So let's think about something we want, for instance. So, I don't know, maybe I want to write a note about someone in our comments ?? or actually, we can make a note about you, Ben.

BEN: Okay. Sounds good.

HUNG-SU: Yeah. Let's search our Vault for anything about Ben. And to search for something about Ben, we need to bring up our little search, which is command O, for you on Mac.

BEN: Command O. I can see here we have this little modal that popped up.

HUNG-SU: Ask the Vault, do we have anything on Ben Hong? We don't have anything on Ben Hong. We just hit enter to create a note, and now we have a space for something on Ben Hong. And ?? okay. And this is ?? this seems simple, but I think this is a really big deal because a lot of other note?taking systems don't have this. So, particularly for those of you who are coming from, say, OneNote are Evernote, you might be used to the general idea of creating a note by going into the folder first or a notebook first. Like you make this decision where a note should go before you even create the note, and Obsidian has kind of a paradigm shift of thinking. You think about what you want first. You search for it. If it's not there, you make it. That makes it so much easier to start creating notes. And we'll talk more about that as we get into this. So, okay, so we have created a note for something that we want, and I wanted to create a note about you, Ben Hong, maybe because ?? maybe because I want to buy you a present. Maybe because I want to do something nice for you.

BEN: So nice. [ Laughter ]

HUNG-SU: Yeah, so, when we ?? yeah, so, when we write notes about people, maybe we can write something about things that you'd like. So we can make make a heading for things that Ben likes.

BEN: Yeah. Things that he likes.

HUNG-SU: Yeah.

BEN: Also probably worth mentioning is Obsidian is markdown first. For a lot of us who are developers, this should be a syntax we should be familiar with. I'm using the markdown syntax for H 2, basically.

HUNG-SU: That's great to bring up. I know a lot of people have trouble getting their heads around markdown for whatever reason, and that's totally okay. And if you're not comfortable with markdown, then certainly don't use Obsidian. We'll talk about some other tools.

BEN: For now. For now. In the future, they might be fixing this.

HUNG-SU: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So, things that Ben likes. We can totally just go off, like, the things I see in your stream. We can ?? I would make the assumption that Ben likes Star Wars based on the gigantic A?Wing. Star Wars. What else? I think it's safe to say you like Funko Pop.

BEN: That is true.

HUNG-SU: Actually, this is enough for us to get started with some connected note?taking. We have some items that you like. Another way we can create notes, which is just mental and a lot of other note?taking systems don't have, is we can select one of these items. So, let's say we want to select Star Wars, take the little mouse and select Star Wars, and we're gonna hit our left square bracket twice and we're going to change this into a link. Hey, look at that. Changed color and everything. So, now we've created this now ?? not quite created this new page for Star Wars. Now we're going to ?? I think it's command click on Star Wars to open it up. Okay. Now we've created this page, Star Wars, and it is connected to Ben Hong. So, just now to get into the real magic of why this is so special, we need another ?? I think we need another person who likes Star Wars. So let's create a note for me.

BEN: All right. To Hung-SU.

HUNG-SU: We are asking the vaults, do you have anything on Hung-SU? You don't. That's okay. We cran create it. We press enter to create. We can mention that Hung-SU likes Star Wars.

BEN: And also, actually, I saw a question from Meg. The reason I'm starting with an H2 is correct. I usually have the H1, like, following sort of semantic HTML as the page title, so theoretically we can have it populate the note title. You can customize this however you want. I usually try to match it to the file title to maintain some consistency. That's why I do H2. So, if I just type Star Wars, is this what you're referring to, Hung-SU, or something else?

HUNG-SU: This is a great question, Ben. So, we can ask the Vault in a different way to bring up pages. So if you actually delete that item and let's show people how this works. So if we start typing double left square bracket.

BEN: Whoa.

HUNG-SU: Hey, look, we have a list of suggestions. So, we can choose Star Wars, this note that we've already made. Yes, we have this gorgeous order complete. So, this is kind of game?changing when you can just kind of, like, ask your Vault, ask your notes if it already has something. And, like, we only have three notes here, but we can already kind of, like, start to see the power. For those of you in the chat, this really changes the game once you get into the hundreds or thousands of notes that you've written yourself and you can just ask your note ?? ask your note system if it has something, and so many time it is will. Oh, I see a question. Is there markdown syntax that is Obsidian only? And the answer is yes. There is some syntax that is Obsidian only, and I'll try to distinguish the Obsidian?only syntax from the other syntax.

BEN: They do try to keep to the standard as much as possible, it seems, though,. They're not trying to really mess with it.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, they do try. I can showcase one of these right now, in fact.

BEN: Let's do it.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, let's go to your note, Ben.

BEN: Okay, so I'm going to command O, and let's go to Ben Hong.

HUNG-SU: Yes, let's ask the system about Ben. Let's create a new section. Let's create something ??

BEN: Okay.

HUNG-SU: Let's call it things that Ben said.

BEN: All right. Let's do it.

HUNG-SU: Yes, things that Ben said. Yes, it is. Okay. And I'm trying to think of some lovely funny thing that you've said to me recently. Okay. We don't have to make this embarrassing, but, okay, let's start by using the quote syntax. So, yes ??

BEN: Sounds good.

HUNG-SU: Angle bracket. And then recently you told me that, oh, I don't know, you told me that I can press G to edit a wall in Fortnite.

BEN: Okay, yep.

HUNG-SU: That's all I can think of right now.

BEN: Yeah, great, I did tell you that recently.

HUNG-SU: Yes. Okay. So, we have a quote on Ben's page. And just for ?? just for fun, I was going to reference this in my note. We can go to Hung-SU.

BEN: Okay. So, let's go open Hung-SU, and I'm going to open it in a new pane, so I'm going to hit command enter, and you'll see now we have the multi?column.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, and this is a huge deal as well. I do want to talk a little bit about this. So, I know that coming from Evernote, OneNote and basically every other tool, a lot of the time I can only look at one note at a time, and Obsidian kind of wants to change the game a little bit. It wants you, the Obsidian users, to think of looking at multiple notes like at the same time. And part of the reason for this is because we want people to kind of get into ?? well, some first principles thinking. Like trying to make new ideas out of other ideas. And one way that we can do that is open a lot of different panes at the same time. So you've shown us a little side?by?side here. Obsidian can split many other different ways. I'm pretty sure you can split vertically as well. I think you can put things in the sidebar. Yeah. So, we don't have to get into that right now. Let's get into the ?? I wanted to show the fancy little bit of Obsidian?specific syntax.

BEN: Yeah, let's do it.

HUNG-SU: Which is a block embed.

BEN: Okay.

HUNG-SU: Yeah. So, the thing I'm about to say doesn't really belong under "things he likes," but we're just going to borrow this note anyway. If you could ?? yeah, sure. We could call this "chats with Hung-SU" or something like that.

BEN: Wait, I'm in the ?? "what's with Ben," you mean?

HUNG-SU: Yeah, sure. "Chats with Ben Hong." We're going to do a block embed.

BEN: All right.

HUNG-SU: So, this is ?? I think it's exclamation mark.

BEN: Okay.

HUNG-SU: And then double left square. Okay. So, now we have the lovely auto?complete again. We are going to bring up, yes, bring up Ben Hong. So, it is auto completed that, but we want to go back a little bit, yes. Okay. And then we're going to, carat? Carat. Yeah. Hey, look at this little auto?complete list. So, for those of you who don't know what this is, well, this is a list of the things inside that note. And we can make a direct reference to the thing that Ben said to me, which was press G to edit a wall in Fortnite. We can hit that. Ben, if you can control E, I'm sorry.

BEN: Command E.

HUNG-SU: Sorry, I'm coming from ?? see here in the preview we have an embedded note ?? sorry, an embedded block with a link to the original block. So, if you actually totally close your pane ??

BEN: Yep.

HUNG-SU: Your left pane. If we hit that little link in the embedded block, that takes us to the original. Look at that.

BEN: Look at that.

HUNG-SU: So, yes, so here is one example of the Obsidian?specific syntax. This doesn't work in other markdown editors, but it is really cool and I think you should use it.

BEN: Yeah, it is so good. I think we had a question. Let's take a moment real quick. I realized I just moved away from the mic. So, Socket Studio I think started with ?? so, do we need to add code? No, I would say ?? right? Code is not necessary. We're going to talk about customization later, because that is definitely a really great aspect of Obsidian, but I would say, Hung-SU, it's not required at all, right?

HUNG-SU: It is not required, no. But, yes, for a lot of you, I'm sure, as super proficient developers and probably want to insert some of your own code into your own notes. We'll talk about many of the magical ways that can do many incredible things.

BEN: Great. We'll get into that. From MightyBig. Is there a date automatically attached to the note?

HUNG-SU: So, we've talked a bit about this, haven't we, Ben?

BEN: Yeah, we have.

HUNG-SU: Obviously there is just the file?level kind of, like, operating system?level stuff on each of the notes. But like myself and Ben, we like to define those more explicitly in the note, and the way that we generally do this is with templates. We can talk about templates real soon.

BEN: Sounds good. Yeah. So, great. Let's do that. Sam. What's up, Sam? Sam says very Roamy. For those of you coming from the Roam ecosystem ?? show a right pane. Talk about the relationship.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, we can talk about that.

BEN: Actually has a question. Is the auto?complete default or plug?in?

HUNG-SU: It is default.

BEN: Yes. It is default.

HUNG-SU: Plain, ordinary Obsidian. It has the auto?complete just working straight out of the box. So, what we see here in the stream right now is just a plane Obsidian with no plug?ins. So, we'll add a couple of plug?ins later in the stream, I think.

BEN: Yes, definitely.

HUNG-SU: This is straight out of the box.

BEN: Great. All right. So I think actually maybe it's worth covering the relationship part, right? Because at this point, we've shown the link and embedding, but I know one of my favorite features of Obsidian is being able to see how these things relate, so do you want to talk a little bit about that, Hung-SU?

HUNG-SU: Oh, yes. Yes. Okay. So, it is worth thinking of your note system as this other brain, this kind of ?? so, there's the brain that you have ?? your own flesh brain, and then there's this other brain that is in the computer, and this brain that is in your computer is more like your own brain than you may think. So a lot of ?? your own brain, you don't actually have boxes in here. Like you don't actually have rooms with doors and, like, fixed buckets where things are. Like, you have a lot of little things kind of, like, connected to each other with ?? I've completely forgotten my AI, my AI studies and stuff. There is a word for that connection. But, yes, lots of little things that are all connected to each other, and Obsidian is the same. And we can look at these connections and we can kind of, like, explore these connections in a couple of different ways. So, Ben, I know you're just itching to show people.

BEN: I am.

HUNG-SU: The different kinds of graph inside Obsidian.

BEN: So, maybe let's start with back links, actually. I think that might be the people are most familiar with coming from Notion, Roam, for example.

HUNG-SU: I know when I was in Evernote and OneNote, I did go through a lot of effort to link notes together when I thought it was important. The problem with that was, well, there are a bunch of problems with that, but one of the big ones is it was single direction. When you create a note from one place to another, you can see it from ?? if I write a link in this page that says, hey, link to Ben and then I have this page called Ben, this page doesn't have any awareness that it being linked to. Whereas in Obsidian, when you do that, both pages are aware of each other when you make that link. So we can see here in this pane, Ben Hong.

BEN: The right bar.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, there is the right bar and there is also the bottom status bar, too.

BEN: That's true.

HUNG-SU: I use the bottom status bar a lot. It sounds like you use the right bar more often.

BEN: Yeah. When you click this, this will automatically open the sidebar to this part right here.

HUNG-SU: Yeah. So, we can see that Ben Hong has been linked from the note called "Hung-SU" that says "chats with Ben Hong." Also another line that has the quote, the block embed. So, yeah, these are the basic ?? so, this is the basic way to show that it's a link to each other.

BEN: But what about this unlinked mentioned bit here?

HUNG-SU: Okay. I don't think we've created any unlinked mentions yet. Maybe we should make one.

BEN: Yeah, let's do it.

HUNG-SU: So we can see how this works. So, let's ?? we could make a note for today's stream. In fact.

BEN: Let's do it.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, so ??

BEN: All right. So, Learn Obsidian With Hung-SU. Let's call it that.

HUNG-SU: Great. Okay. So, let's make a list of attendees, maybe, or hosts.

BEN: Yeah, let's do hosts. This is great.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, hosts. We're going to type out Hung-SU and Ben Hong, and we are not going to link this. And then ?? fantastic. Okay. Now if we go back to Ben Hong or Hung-SU, hey, look at that. What's this? Unlinked mentions. So, this is kind of, like, the wonderful power of having local notes that your very powerful computer can pass through and look at and do magical things for you. So here you can see that Obsidian has kind of automatically detected, hey, you typed Hung-SU over here and this note is called Hung-SU, did you kind of mean to link these things together? And we can look here if we like.

BEN: It makes sense. Hung-SU was mentioned, so if I click on the link button. Back to the Learn With Obsidian. Looks like it's automatically updated that for us.

HUNG-SU: We have square brackets right there. Yes, we have a working link. Yes. And obviously we can do the same with your name as well.

BEN: Yes, that's true. So, if we went back to Ben, we'll see there is this unlink mention here. So, you know, I know for me at least this is really useful for processing things, like, when you're exploring topics and figuring out where you had more fluid thought and hadn't spent the time to make the relationships. This is so great when it comes to being able to link these things together.

HUNG-SU: Yeah. Oh, I see a question.

BEN: Ooh, go for it.

HUNG-SU: Yeah. So, I see a question from Meg. Do you want slow down much if you have a lot of notes with links? So, this is a great question and this is part of the reason I switched to Obsidian from something similar called Dynalist. The answer is Obsidian has been really slick and quick for me with hundreds of notes. I've heard of people with thousands and they've been fine.

BEN: Yep.

HUNG-SU: So, I came from Dynalist, and I was linking things together, and it was becoming unbearable slow. It was so slow that I would open the app like on my phone, and I could expect maybe a minute, like, for it to open up and be ready. Which, like, if you need a bit of information right now, like, you just can't put up with that. So, yeah, huge advantage of local first, and really good Caching in Obsidian is that this stuff is really quick.

BEN: I think you hit an excellent point worth talking about. A lot of frustrations people have with note?taking is they invest a lot of time in the system or a single app, and then what they find is when it hits scale, right, to Meg's question, and they have thousands of notes, it's so slow. Then it's, like, you spent all this time building it, and now you're in vendor lock?in. For me, I found really frustrating with a lot of note?taking apps.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, that's really it, isn't it? It feels kind of like an abusive relationship. Like there are things that you need from your notes, but it's also kind of, like, holding you with these terrible loading times and pains and aches, and you put up with those aches because you need the thing. Yes. We want to get people away from the abusive relationships with a very slow note application.

BEN: So that's why I think one of the things worth mentioning, though, because we're managing just series of markdown files, if Obsidian were to one day disappear and you don't have a local copy, you still have your notes in a useable format, as opposed to it live in some database file where you no longer have the keys to understand how anything works. Here we can see the block reference that Obsidian created for us in the embed shows up directly here as a reference. Even though you might not have pretty UI of an automatic embed, you at least have the chance to make the relationship and connections again, which I think ?? which to me makes me feel a lot safer about Obsidian. I don't know, Hung-SU, how you feel about that.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, totally feel the same way. I've talked a little in the past about ?? I've experimented with other local first note systems, and one big turnoff is when the storage method is proprietary, some globby file I cannot read without that application. With Obsidian, like you said, I can open my notes up with VS Code, any plain markdown editor. Even other note systems that use markdown. You can often open up an Obsidian pile of notes in those systems and you can try opening up those systems in Obsidian as well. That is the joy of trying to just, yeah, using markdown.

BEN: Yeah. Great. Okay. I think ?? okay, let's talk a little bit more about the ?? I know we kind of detracted from the relationships. We wanted to show them graphs, right, Hung-SU? Let's do graphs.

HUNG-SU: They're so beautiful.

BEN: All right. So, Hung-SU, I guess where would you like to start? Which node should we start with? Should we just leave this one?

HUNG-SU: Okay. So, I guess we can go to ?? well, I was mentioning earlier, like, sometimes I write notes about people because I want to do, you know, nice things with them or nice things for them. If we go to your note.

BEN: Yeah, let's go to Ben.

HUNG-SU: Go to your note.

BEN: Ben Hong.

HUNG-SU: Okay. And then what I may want to do is open up a local graph. So, actually ?? sorry, before we do that, if you could make a link for Funko Pop.

BEN: Yes, absolutely.

HUNG-SU: If we select Funko Pop. There's a couple of different ways we can do this. I guess the way we'll do right now, maybe use the Obsidian Command Palate

BEN: Yeah, let's talk about that.

HUNG-SU: So, for those of you who haven't used a command palate before, it's something that can be brought up within an application with a shortcut. So I think in Obsidian's case on Mac, it is command P.

BEN: P, yeah.

HUNG-SU: And I'm not sure if that's the same in VS Code on Mac. So, yeah, many applications that have a command palate that lets you type out commands in brokenish English to do the things that you want. So let's try asking the great Obsidian wizard for a local graph.

BEN: I'm just going to type "graph."

HUNG-SU: Oh, graph. Yeah, there we go. And we have open graph, delete paragraph, and then open local graph, which is kind of funny. But so in this case, I think we want a local graph.

BEN: Sounds good.

HUNG-SU: For this example.

BEN: I'm going to hit enter. All right. Oh, look at this.

HUNG-SU: Hey. Okay. So ??

BEN: Let me change the display a bit, actually.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, yeah ??

BEN: Let's see, arrow. Let's increase the note size. Line thickness. All right. That's about as max as I can get it, I think.

HUNG-SU: Beautiful.

BEN: Fade threshold? Nope. I think that's about as good as I can get it for now.

HUNG-SU: Great. Okay. So, we have these beautiful little bubbles and beautiful connections. So we see that Ben is connected to Star Wars, connected to Hung-SU, connected to Learn With Obsidian, connected to Funko Pop, but I feel like I want to see a little bit more.

BEN: Okay.

HUNG-SU: So what we're seeing here is a depth of one. So, we're seeing only direct connections to Ben Hong, but maybe we want to see things that are maybe a little more indirect. So maybe let's play with the depth filter.

BEN: Okay. How do we do that? So we go in here?

HUNG-SU: Yeah, let's open up filters, and then, yeah, we see an option here for depth. We see it's all the way to the left. Which is a depth of 1. Oh, man, these little tongue?twisters. So, we're going to change 1 to 2. Okay. And that should give us something a little bit more interesting. So if we get back to the graph, ??

BEN: Do we need neighbor links turned on?

HUNG-SU: Oh, yeah, maybe.

BEN: So I do this.

HUNG-SU: Hey, look at that. Okay. So, the reason I wanted to bring this up is because I wanted it to kind of visualize who are all the people that like Star Wars? We can kind of see that Ben and Hung-SU are both connected to Star Wars. We can see this right here. So, the way that I use this in my own notes, like, I might have, say, well, you, for instance, and a bunch of other people, have not just a list of things that these people like. I have a list of games that people like, and then I can kind of connect people by the games that they mutually like and organize sessions where, hey, all of you like the same game. Let's play this game together. And in the case of this Star Wars, if I know a bunch of people who are also into Star Wars, sometimes they can give me ideas for interesting things to talk about. Like other books to read. Interesting kinds of Star Wars art. There are so many different things that we can do with these connections, but, yes, so that is local graph. And, yeah, we ?? we can probably ?? we could play with this a little more, but, actually, there's so much to talk about, isn't there? Yeah.

BEN: Maybe one thing worth mentioning within the graph, though, is I know that especially for those who haven't used graph view to basically visualize their notes before, we actually covered this a little bit here. Within the filter, you can actually search within the files so when you have more notes, you can filter it down. For example, only notes related to Hung-SU. You see that actually updates the live graph and only the things related to Hung-SU kind of stay in place. So this is something to know, that this thing is very dynamic as far as what you can do with it, which is super nice.

HUNG-SU: Yeah. And, oh, I do see some questions coming in.

BEN: Yeah, let's do it.

HUNG-SU: So, okay, what do we have? Okay. I see a big one from Mr. Peanut Butter. One of the things I found interesting ?? reading about the ??

BEN: I think so. This is kind of an important paradigm that has been taking hold of the note?taking community.

HUNG-SU: Yeah. So, obviously ?? okay. So, I'll stop saying obviously because obviously ??

BEN: It's okay.

HUNG-SU: Sorry. Sorry. For some people in the community, Zettlekasten may be a totally new term that doesn't mean anything. It's a German word. Translated literally, it means note box, I think. And it's referring to I guess the ancestor of what we're doing here with Obsidian. This lovely German researcher, Niklas Luhmann didn't have a computer but he knew he wanted to connect his notes and ideas together. He didn't have a computer, didn't have Obsidian, wanted to connect notes. He did it with slips of paper in boxes and the slips of paper had ideas written on them. And in his writing, if he wanted to just, you know, make a reference to another note, he would write down the ID of the other related note. And he would organize his boxes in a way by the ideas. If we looked at the idea, he would know which box to look at to find that note. So, that is Zettlekasten. One of the big ideas of the Zettlekasten method is one slip of paper should have just one idea or just one purpose. This is so important for so many reasons, we can get into more as we go along. I want to get back to maybe answering Mr. Peanut Butter's question. So, he's asking, notes have a hierarchy. A parent?child relationship. You can gain insights from the hierarchy. I haven't found a good way to do that in Obsidian. Is that oversold? Not that useful. I do think in this way sometimes. I do think parent?child, I go from a parent mode down into child mode. Then I go back up. I know that for me, I do this so much that I don't really think much about the parent?child relationship anymore. By parent?child relationship, what could that be? So, say, for instance ?? I'm a UI engineer. I think a lot about JavaScript. I might have a parent of JavaScript, and then I might have children things like DOM manipulation or different kinds of data and stream manipulation. Fetching things with Ajax. I might have more children underneath that. So there is that relationship, but that relationship, to me, hasn't been all that useful. I think, okay, I need some JavaScript thing. I need to know more about Ajax. I'm not thinking about that parent?child relationship, but it is possible. So I know in this graph we have directional arrows, so you can see when one thing is linking to another. I'm not sure if that answers your question, though, Mr. Peanut Butter and also not sure if you have any thoughts on the parent?child relationship in Obsidian, Ben.

BEN: Yeah, I think it's a tricky thing, right? As you mentioned, most of us are used to this folder hierarchy for organizing things, and I think we talk ?? I talk a lot about this in coding workshops, too, when we talk about component development, which a lot of us are familiar with as developers. With notes, though, as we can see, though, because it's often very three?dimensional, in the sense that it, like, believe it or not, what makes note?writing tricky is that the context in which you write it when you first create it is often not the way it is when you want to fetch it later. So for that reason, like, I found that the parent?child was almost a little more ?? it's good to, like, start out, like, setting out those explicit relationships, but beyond that, letting it be flexible and letting it grow organically, because JavaScript might also want to be related to other things like Machine Learning, but it might be front end, right? Not end and Machine Learning are two different areas, but they're now two different axis of knowledge bases. What's nice about the graph modelling of notes it allows to organically scale without feeling like, oh, no, I have to take everything out of folders. Do I put the JavaScript note in a front end folder and copy it over to a Machine Learning folder? You don't have to worry about that. That's all managed through the power of software. That's kind of my 2 cents on it.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, we can even talk a little more about that stuff, about ?? about folders and organizing with notes. So, yeah, so, I know that a lot of people probably very used to thinking of organization folder first. But once you start playing with Obsidian, I think what I'd really like to see is people organizing note first. Like your notes are the unit information and also the way that we organize things. And we do this with I guess ?? there's a bunch of different words for these. You'd call them hub notes. You'd call them map notes. You might have heard of some other ones, Ben, but there's ?? I guess you call it table of contents notes, but I think ?? I think these kinds of notes are a little bit more special.

BEN: Why don't we create one for everyone and show them.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, yeah. So, okay. So, we were just talking about JavaScript. Like we could make a group note, a hub note for JavaScript. So we can ask the almighty Obsidian Oracle, do you have anything about JavaScript? No, it doesn't. We can create a note for JavaScript. So, this could be the parent or hub of JavaScript. And what things might be want to talk about inside JavaScript? We may want to talk about major JavaScript frameworks, for example. Like we could create a little heading for frameworks or we could create even a note for frameworks. There are so many different ways that we can do this. If we create a note for frameworks, then inside the note for frameworks, if we click on through, we can then start making reference to other frameworks like view and React. Ben, it is so great you have the graph open while we do this so that people can see why it is so powerful to think in terms of notes as the organization tool and not folders. So, everyone should hopefully notice that when we created each of these pages, like, we didn't have to stop and go over to the folder and think, which folder do I put this in? This is so common, I think, I think it's maybe worst in group Wiki environment. If you're sharing notes with quite a big team, then you do need to think a little bit about this stuff. There is this anxiety around, oh, where do I put this note? Where is the best place to put it? And it's well?founded fear because sometimes there is a cost to moving the note later, so you really need to get it right the first time. But in Obsidian, that really doesn't matter. You can put it wherever you want, and you can just link to it directly. As long as you know the name of the note. So, that may be something worth talk a little bit as well, which is note naming. And I know that for a while, I'd never really thought much of my notes as a search engine, and I think this is something that I would really like those of you on the stream to start thinking of, if you haven't already. I think all of us have to use Google or whatever as part of our day job. Probably many times a day. And, in fact, I think I just saw a comment from someone in another thread saying that they have 500 tabs open because ?? and they said that they needed those 500 tabs for whatever problem that was. I do not envy their problem. But, yes, so, we need search to solve our problems, but we keep turning to this external search as the source of our answers, and I would think people to start turning to their own notes as a potential source of their answers. And for that to work, your notes need to ?? need to have a little search engine automization. You're going to need to do a little bit of SEO on your own notes. All that means is your notes need to have good titles. So, we have some pretty good titles here. We have React, Vue, Svelte, and Angular, which are probably things you'd search for if you were looking for things in your own note system. Maybe there are some other things that you might search for. You might search for something like, say, starting a brand?new app with Vue, for instance. Yeah. So, we could try making something like that. So, this is ?? this is classically something that you would probably still turn to Google for, but we'll use that as an example here. So, if we ?? yeah, so if we query this and make a note, let's call it, say, yeah, starting A New App With Vue. And we create the note. And the reason why I expressed the title out in this way in natural English is because when you're searching, when you have a problem, you do tend to search with, you know, a bunch of different words. So, some of the keywords that I made sure to use here. We said starting. We said new. We said app. And we said Vue. I don't think we would need ?? oh, actually, you know what? We could use some other words here. And we can talk a little bit about metadata, Ben.

BEN: Now might be a good time to get into this.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, so, Obsidian notes support a metadata at the beginning of the note. Or actually, they can be anywhere, right, Ben?

BEN: Anywhere. Front matter needs to be at the front.

HUNG-SU: Okay.

BEN: That is the standard.

HUNG-SU: Okay. So ?? okay, we are going to create an alias for this note. So, yep. I believe alias ?? is it alias or aliases, Ben?

BEN: Just alias. Have you done aliases?

HUNG-SU: Yeah.

BEN: Oh, interesting.

HUNG-SU: So we can get into this a little bit. So, we'll do aliases, and aliases accepts an array.

BEN: Front matter syntax. YAML. Were you able to do it like this?

HUNG-SU: Yeah.

BEN: Ignore me. [ Laughter ] I learned something new today. Never mind.

HUNG-SU: This is the way I've been doing it. Sounds like you've been doing it differently, Ben. Aliases. A little array with the string. If we can create an alias, let's call it Creating a New App With Vue. And is there maybe a different synonym that you'd think of for app, Ben? Is there something else that future self might search for?

BEN: No, I think that's actually how I'd search for this, honestly.

HUNG-SU: Okay, sure. Now that we've done this, let's close this panel and query our Obsidian Oracle and see how well this worked. Let's try searching for create. See if that worked. Hey, look at that. Yeah. And this is really important. And one of the regular panes of the a note system that you used for many years. I'm sure many of you in this channel have been using your note systems for 3, 5, 10, 15 or more years. Sometimes it hard to bring up stuff that you haven't used in a while, so it is good to give yourself multiple ways to find the things that you created. So we are able to find these note by searching for "starting a new app." We can find it by searching for "create a new app." We could link to this note from the Vue note. That gives you another way to find the app. So, what we want to do in a very successful long?term note system is have retrieval redundancy. You want multiple ways to get to a place. And you're trying to write for your future self who may not be as good at a thing as the you of today. Like, the you of the future may have well forgotten a lot of these things. If we make a link to start a new app with Vue from the Vue note, hey, look at that lovely auto complete. Oh, I think we have ?? do you want to talk a little, Ben, about this little feature? Yeah.

BEN: So, I know that for all you ?? a lot of times what you name the note is not necessarily what you want to call it where you're referencing it. That's always been rather difficult to do with markdown because you basically are stuck with the original note title. I believe this is Obsidian specific. A single pipe operator basically offering an alternative way of whatever's being written. We're going to look at the render preview. I'm going to use the command pile to split it vertically, and I'm going to turn this on to preview mode so we can basically see a live update here. To create a new app is basically what's being rendered on the page. Raw mark it is down and the source. If we update this now to say, this is cool, you'll see the link is automatically populated. So, this is one of the things I love about this because, again, if we're saying, like, if we're making a log that is like I learned how to create, you know, a new Vue app, you might want to have just lowercased rather than upper case. That way it actually looks like a proper sentence, but you're still referencing the note that you want to point to. And I think that flexibility is ?? I love it so much. But as we can show earlier, though, with the alias, it can auto complete that ?? whatever the alternate thing is being shown here. That's why you see that starting a new Vue app is the original note title, and this is basically your pre?configured alias that you can use for later on.

HUNG-SU: Yeah. Okay. We've been talking for a while.

BEN: We have.

HUNG-SU: I feel like we've been neglecting the chat.

BEN: Let's look at the chat. The first one ?? I think at least the next one I see from Meg is, oh, okay, it looks like Meg's question ?? oh, wait, nope. Which one ?? okay. I'm seeing it from Tross Codes. Does Obsidian do anything fancy for images? We should show them images, Hung-SU.

HUNG-SU: Oh, sure.

BEN: Maybe grab the Vue logo maybe.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, let's do that, Well, I actually wondered if you could find an image that is quite big so we can start playing with image sizes. We can do Vue.

BEN: All right. So I'm going to look up the Vue logo, and we are gonna go ahead and save this locally first. Just, like, on the desktop is what I'm saying.

HUNG-SU: I have a question for you, Ben. One feature I use a lot in Obsidian is I paste images straight into it and they get stored locally in the Vault. So I copy the image to my clipboard and I paste it straight into Obsidian.

BEN: Let's show them that then.

HUNG-SU: This saves me a lot of time. I don't know if it works the same in Mac. I think it does. If you copy image, image is in the clipboard. It should not be a link to the image, it should be the image. If we go back to Obsidian, I just wonder if this works.

BEN: So, this unfortunately at this time ??

HUNG-SU: This looks like it's by reference. Yeah, okay.

BEN: This starts by answering Alex's question a little bit, which this is the standard ?? well, this is the standard actually image syntax from markdown. Exclamation point, which says you're embedding something, your alt and then your URL.

HUNG-SU: Okay. So, that didn't work as quite as I want to. We might have you store those images locally.

BEN: Sounds good. I'm going to go to my desktop and I'm going to do Vue logo.

HUNG-SU: And another thing, Ben, your image clipper, the little clippy thing, does that clip straight to your clipboard?

BEN: It does, but you know what I realized? I'm going to look at the settings. I might have prevented Alfred from saving the image in the clipboard. Let me see if I can change it real quick. Keep images. Maybe this the problem. Let's try this one more time. Copy the image, go into Obsidian. No. So, I might have something interfering with, to be hadn't. I don't want to blame Mac just yet.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, sure.

BEN: So, this is just in my regular desktop. It's not in the vault yet. So, if we drag and drop it in, what do we see?


BEN: So, one, it's now in our note, and Obsidian has automatically added it inside of the vault.

HUNG-SU: Yes. Yeah. So, okay. So, there's a bunch of different things that we can do here. So let's maybe change the size.

BEN: Okay.

HUNG-SU: Of the image.

BEN: How do we do that?

HUNG-SU: You've put the curser in exactly the right place. We want to do pipe, and the width of pixels that we want. This I use a lot because I have a lot of emoji twists in my Obsidian vault. I like to store them in quite high quality, but if I have them at their original size that say, like, 256 or 512, it is too big to be an emoji in my notes, so I'll pipe it down to 16 or 32 or something like this. But the other thing I wanted to talk a little bit about is, I guess, so, there is a ?? this is good reason to have folders.

BEN: Yeah.

HUNG-SU: Is to store these kinds of rich media. So, we can configuring Obsidian a little bit.

BEN: Let's do that.

HUNG-SU: To put all media into a folder.

BEN: So, I'll go into my preference, which I'm going to hit the setting button here.

HUNG-SU: Yep. Little cog icon. Okay.

BEN: File then links?

HUNG-SU: Yes, files and links, and then we have ?? yes, we have default location for new notes, and then we should have a location for ?? yes, new attachments. So, we can do here in let's say a folder specified below, we might need to make that folder first.

BEN: Let's do that. Call it, like, assets?

HUNG-SU: Sure.

BEN: Call it images, actually.

HUNG-SU: I've called it embeds in mine because I have a whole bunch of rich stuff that is not necessarily images in mine.

BEN: Okay. I like that. Let's call it embeds. We've done a lot of keyboard shortcuts, but the left file is basically your standard Windows explorer. We can still manage things here on the left?hand side. So, that is totally available to you. Delete this now.

HUNG-SU: Yeah. So, in case anyone's wondering, so I have mine called embeds because you can do thing like embed PDFs in your Obsidian. You can read a PDF from inside a Obsidian note. If you have ebooks or little papers. All kinds of rich media supported by Obsidian. Yep.

BEN: So, I'm going to go back in here and let's configure that to go to embeds. There is actually not a complete now. It shows all the different folders that exist. Great. I'm just going to click that. Let's do the same thing from before, right? Let's grab the Vue logo.

HUNG-SU: Drag and drop.

BEN: Drag and drop it in. All right. So, we'll see now that embeds did get placed in Vue logo. That is great. Then I've realized, Alex, you might notice this embed is slightly different from the image URL we saw earlier as far as the markdown syntax. Wiki links. When you're referencing an internal asset, Obsidian knows where it is. We usually use the Wiki link, the double square bracket. I wanted to clarify that for those wondering.

HUNG-SU: I see an uncomfortable question, but it needs to be answered.

BEN: Okay. Go for it.

HUNG-SU: Meg asks, the one thing that is holding me back from the switch from Notion to Obsidian. I like their dashboards and corresponding displays. Is there any way to mimic that in Obsidian? You're not going to get the richness of different views ?? sorry, of Notion in Obsidian. That was been a big sticking point for Ben and myself.

BEN: So, kind of. I've done a lot of ?? for those of you who don't know, I do a lot of work with Notion and Obsidian. I love Notion for what it is. I think what Notion has overall is the use of UI editing. It's so easy to drag and drop and switch to different views. That currently is nominative to Obsidian, but I don't know Hung-SU if you've had a chance to play with this, but Obsidian Data View, here it is, this is actually a plug?in I've been using on my own Vault. We're going to jump a little bit ahead on this. We have about 20 minutes, 25 minutes left.

HUNG-SU: Time just flies.

BEN: I know. Doesn't it? It allows you to specify this basically this block. You see that it's the triple back tick code block. When it's a data view, you can basically query against your notes. The thing here in this particular case you're telling it the syntax is what the format is. This is a table. They also have a list. List and table are the ones I used the most. Time played, length and rating. These are attributes that come from the front matter. Let's say on Vue, right, we could define properties on this to be, like, you know, language is a property and in case we'll call to JavaScript. You'd query against all the meta properties. That's how it's correlated. This gives you at least some sort of view. But to Hung-SU's point, it doesn't have the level of, like, UI prettiness when it comes to being able to switch to those things. At least at this time. That's what I'll say.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, so, we are ?? we're getting by. We ?? obviously Ben and I miss the power that Notion has. But with Obsidian's very, very rapidly growing plug?in database, we are finding all kinds of other ways to continue to organize. Obsidian. And the sting is getting smaller.

BEN: Maybe it's worth talking about plug?ins. We haven't talked much about personalization with Obsidian, which I think is a huge selling point.

HUNG-SU: Oh, it is, yes. So, okay. So, let's ?? well, let's start browsing, I guess, as some of the ?? some of what's available. And we can talk ?? yeah, so let's go to our little preferences cog.

BEN: Sounds good.

HUNG-SU: We can see how easy it is to start having a bit of a look around. Oh, I guess we ??

BEN: Do you want to go ??

HUNG-SU: We might need to talk a little bit about the core plug?ins.

BEN: Let's do that.

HUNG-SU: I thank they're not on by default.

BEN: Okay.

HUNG-SU: I know I have a lot of them on for me. Let's quickly things might be on and actually worth talking about.

BEN: Tags. There was a question about that earlier.

HUNG-SU: Okay. This is kind of a big thing. Yeah, we can go ahead and enable this tag painting talking about tags. Obsidian does things maybe a little differently from lots of other places. So, one big shift I've made in the last few years is the idea of inline tags rather than page?level tags or rather than note?level tags. So, if any of you ?? well, maybe we'll teach by showing.

BEN: Yeah, let's do that.

HUNG-SU: Let's show people an inline tag and we'll kind of get into why that might be preferred for some people. So, yeah, so we have ?? yeah, we have a Vue note. We have ?? oh, okay.

BEN: This one?

HUNG-SU: Yes, we have this, an inline tag. So you add tags to your notes by typing them out. Kind of like writing a tweet or riding a ?? I guess all social media these days, right? You add tags to it with a hashtag at the beginning and the name of the tag that you want. Now that we have this tag, JavaScript, let's take a look at the tag pane, and we should see it there.

BEN: It might be ?? is it on right now? It is.

HUNG-SU: Defaulted on the right. We have a little tab for tags.

BEN: I'm going to drag it over here. That I think is worth showing. For example, I tend to keep the tags here because to me they're kind of, like, folders in this regard, a browsing thing. For me, I keep that over here.

HUNG-SU: For those of you are developers and start playing with Obsidian. I think it's a�.Obsidian ?? inside that is a work it is space file and that file describes what Ben just showed you, the layout. It describes the files that you have open, where you've moved your tabs. I think there's file for the plug?ins you have enabled. So, we've enabled the tag pane plug?in. We can see there is a JavaScript tag with one note, one result. So, if we make, I don't know, if we tag something else with JavaScript ??

BEN: Let's go to React.

HUNG-SU: Yeah. Ah, here we go.

BEN: This is not open jet.

HUNG-SU: So, we have not created the page yet. Maybe talk a little bit about this. Actually, if you go to the JavaScript note, I think identify sorry, the JavaScript frameworks note. Which is where the ?? yeah. Okay. So, we haven't created these yet. We've just made these links. Could you actually open up the local graph, Ben?

BEN: Yeah, let me do that. Command P. Local graph.

HUNG-SU: Yes. Ask the Obsidian wizard, show me the graph.

BEN: Yes. [ Laughter ]

HUNG-SU: Okay. So, looking at the default Obsidian theme here. So, the contrast is not too great. So I'm so sorry if you can't see this.

BEN: Should we try to switch the theme, Hung-SU?

HUNG-SU: That shouldn't be hard.

BEN: Let's do it right now.

HUNG-SU: Let's go into appearance and let's, actually, does it come ??

BEN: Let's just browse some. So, by the way, when we were talking about personalization, this is one of the things I think worth mentioning, is that everything in Obsidian, if you think you want to customize it, it's basically possible. So, I don't know, this is a good construct for Obsidian.

HUNG-SU: Let's give that a try. I'll make a little note as well ??

BEN: Yeah, please.

HUNG-SU: Any Devs who are on the stream. If any of you ever felt like you, to make a contribution to open source but felt intimidated like there too much to do or the standards are too high. One way you can do is create a theme. I created a theme and contributed it to the obsidian repo. It's probably one of the easiest ones I've done. Okay. Oh, we have a different theme for you. The contrast of this is probably still not too great. That's okay. We cab talk about this. So, we have these different color bulks. So, we have a white bubble for JavaScript frameworks and we have a white bubble for Vue. Then we have these kind, like ?? this is another way we can create a note. I think we can just click on Svelte or Angular and, hey, we have now made this note. So, creating notes is so quick and so easy inside Obsidian. It gives you so many different ways to do it. For the situation just now that we were in, yeah, you need to make sure that you've made the note. Okay. So, now that we are inside the Svelte note, we can add a JavaScript tag. So, then we'll type and see that, oh, look how quick that was. I'm pretty sure I used auto complete.

BEN: Yeah, I just use auto complete. The stream for me was so fast, I didn't see the drop?dawn. I saw you type the hashtag and JavaScript just appeared. As you've all in Obsidian, there's auto complete everywhere. It's very handy. It's very fast. That is the basics of inline tagging. Ben, do you want to talk a little about hierarchal tagging?

BEN: One of the things that Obsidian added recently to its feature, you have can true to the parent?child relationship. For example, with JavaScript, maybe as a parent tag this is too high. We mention allergin versus front end. Maybe what we want is to have a front end tag. Within that in the Egypt. You'll see here actually now. I'm just do Machine Learning JavaScript. So, using the ?? oh, wait, no, this is back it is slash. Basically the syntax between a parent and a child. Over on the left?hand side you can see the hierarchal relationship Now, I wouldn't comment that ?? one of the things that I have learn is it's really to get into the parent?child relationship, but then you get too deep in the hole, right? It's kind of weird to have a bunch of front end Machine Learning ?? what would make sense is to compose tags together. We think about his from coding and refactoring. When you're searching files you're look for front end and JavaScript rather than having to type directly to ?? I can see your ties are much cleaner. Obsidian search is quite powerful. You can compose things together. Look for all the notes that contain front end and JavaScript. That way you'll only see, for example, your front end JavaScript notes, versus your Machine Learning JavaScript notes, for example.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, we can search for tags, text, not tag as well, which is super handy as well. Yes, there is so much to go into. And also so many questions that we haven't been answering.

BEN: Yes, let's keep going. What's in the chat? Let's see.

HUNG-SU: Okay.

BEN: I see one from Anna. Is front matter a markdown or Obsidian specific thing?

HUNG-SU: That's a good question. So, it's technically a YAML format.

BEN: Yeah.

HUNG-SU: And I know that my other markdown readers when I open up an Obsidian mark it is down file with Obsidian in it, they don't bother hooking at the YAML. Oh, in that sense, it is obsidian specific. If you had a markdown reader that said it would read the YAML, it would read the YAML.

BEN: To build on what Hung-SU's saying. It is a bit of a hybrid. Standard from a syntax perspective and, you know, other places using. Obsidian is actually in the Mfiondu of figuring out how to use it to its full extent. We showed you aliases earlier. That functionality because using the specific property to reference in different names and places. Obsidian is looking to leverage that standard and ex?extending its functionality in the UI.

HUNG-SU: Are we actually caught up on questions? That's amazing. Okay.

BEN: I think so. If we missed a question, please go ahead, chat, and drop it in the bottom. This has been so great. Yeah, this is super great. We see ?? yeah, the auto sync GIF from our Dev ?? Hung-SU, do you use the sync git plug?in?

HUNG-SU: I actually don't. I think I saw you talked about it on Tuesday.

BEN: Yeah, we did talk a little bit. So, yeah, if you go to Obsidian git, basically it can automatically ?? you can tell it how often to push up to GitHub. So, maybe this is worth quickly maybe covering in, like, a couple minutes. I know the time has really flown. Backing up your notes, I think that's actually a really important thing to talk about. So, Hung-SU, how do you manage your note backup? And then I can share mine.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, so, I am super dorky, and I love Lenox servers and stuff, so I set up a private VPS over in Seattle that runs this little ?? this little app called Sync Thing. That little VPS over in Seattle has a copy of my notes and also synchronizes my notes with my laptop and my phone over here. So, super dorky. Super overcomplicated. Everyone in the chat, you don't need to do that. You can ?? I did it because I wanted to. I'm sure Ben's solution that he's about to tell you has worked just fine.

BEN: Yeah, so, the way I did it, I went the much ?? yeah, I used third?party services, particularly DropBox. My second brain lives in a DropBox folder. Because I'm paranoid I have a secondary backup, basically a private GitHub repo. I have two points of failure rather than the one. And, again, it's basically up to you. Just know that because it is just a folder of text files, however you prefer to back up your files, that's up to you. You get a choice. Which is super nice. Does it have open editor like vim or sublime? Is it possible to edit in other editors?

HUNG-SU: I don't use this feature much. I know that Obsidian let's you open a file in your OS's whatever native application is for that. Yeah, you found it. There you go. Open in default app. I don't use it. But it is there.

BEN: Yeah. And so to, like, on the second part of your question is that, yes, because these are just markdown files. Obsidian is just if you think about it, ooh, that's not what I want to do. Let's quit that. It's a UI extension on the text files. So, yes, if you want to use vim, sublime code, VS code, it's all there. And you can still edit things normally. So, for example, I still use sublime text or VS code to do mass text replacements. It's more performant on that particular software. Otherwise, yeah, that's the answer to that. There Arvin key bindings in Obsidian for those who are vim fans. So, that is a thing. Do you want to add the one for Meg?

HUNG-SU: Yeah. So, Meg, can you save more than one graph U like when you adjusted it with the filter? I don't do this, but I'm pretty sure you can favorite a particular graph view. So I think we might need to enable a plug?in for that, Ben.

BEN: Okay. Sounds good. I'll go into ?? so, core plug?ins?

HUNG-SU: I think for that we need the starred plug?in. I think.

BEN: So, these are for searches, I believe.

HUNG-SU: Oh, okay. Is this ?? actually, Ben, is this a feature that you use? I don't use the graph view that much.

BEN: I ?? Meg, that is a great question to Hung-SU's point. I think I've wanted to do this a couple of times, but at this moment, I haven't. I don't have a good workflow for saving the graph view. There is something, though, that is worth maybe mentioning for those. Workspaces are a thing. Although maybe that's a plug?in that I need to turn on. I could have sworn Obsidian has workspaces built in. And maybe ?? yes, here we go.

HUNG-SU: Okay.

BEN: Here it is. So, the other thing is that you can save, like, different layouts for different modes. For those who might have used Photoshop in the past, depending about your writing mode, you may want things open. Obsidian let's you switch from coding mode to writing mode to maybe art mode. Whatever makes sense to you. Which is worth mentioning. Gosh. There is something important I did want to mention from the next question about Notion, though. We talked a bit about plug?ins, because I know we're starting to run out of time. Obsidian, for those that don't know, is an electron app. Its core is, basically typescript. There is an API. It is in beta, but basically all these things that you see here are just UI extensions on top of, like, Obsidian's API. There are people who have built calendar widgets that automatically open specific notes for those who know the daily concept. The reason I was saying to the Notion earlier, there is nothing stopping us from building a UI interface that would allow us to update our notes. It just hasn't been done yet. I make once the API becomes more formalized, we're going to see a lot more explorations around those things. So I thought something worth mentioning, as far as customization goes.

HUNG-SU: Yeah. There's so many plug?ins that we could get into. I know that the calendar one that you mentioned is kind of a core part of my daily workflow. I'm using that multiple times every single day. Is it worth getting into that really quickly?

BEN: Yeah, I think so.

HUNG-SU: The daily note is kind of a core part of the Obsidian workflow.

BEN: I'm going to turn on the daily note plug?in first.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, sure.

BEN: Then we'll need the community plug?in. So, as usual, you have to opt into this. So, I'm going to go ahead and browse for the calendar widget, which is as you can see the most popular one.

HUNG-SU: Yes, fantastic.

BEN: I'm going to install this. We just want to show you what's possible with this. I imagine there are lots to do to play with this. You'll see we need to enable our calendar and plug?in. So I think now we're good. I think we can actually show it now. Yep, right here. Boom.

HUNG-SU: Okay.

BEN: Calendar widget.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, we have a calendar in its only own little tab. Like to drag it out to its own little pane so I can see it all the time. Not sure if you do that, Ben? So, like this? Just like below here by itself?

HUNG-SU: Yeah, exactly.

BEN: Got it.

HUNG-SU: Now we have a calendar open all the time.

BEN: Yeah, so, if I click on this, what is it doing for us right here?

HUNG-SU: So, we're creating a note with a particular file format. In this case, we have this iOS ?? year, month, day. Here it's prompting us if we want to create the note. So, we'll see yes. No, I don't have this prompt in my arrangement.

BEN: Oh, interesting.

HUNG-SU: Yeah. So does it prompt you every time you make a three note, Ben?

BEN: If I click on the calendar, yes. But because I have my own shortcut for automatically creating, I skip the prompt itself.

HUNG-SU: Interesting. Mine never prompts. We've made a note tiled 2021 for 4/29. This is in the same pile of notes. I like to put it in a different folder. It kind of overwhelms. It's worth putting it in a new folder. Yep, you've made a new folder. I did originally call this daily notes. I think I'm going to rename to mine as calender at some point.

BEN: That's a good name.

HUNG-SU: Not just three notes, weekly notes and monthlies and annuals. You have a regular note. A title, April 29, 2021. I wanted to talk about templates at some point today. Do we have enough time? Eight minutes on the clock.

BEN: Yeah, we're running short. How about let's show them the core template. That way they can see at least what's possible.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, let's do that. Yeah, so the core template plug?in is good enough for most people, I think.

BEN: Enable that.

HUNG-SU: Templates. Fantastic. You beauty. Okay.

BEN: So, we're gonna put the ?? let me create a new folder real quick called templates. So, now we will say that, okay, so, basic hi we're configuring the template plug?in to pull our templates from the folder.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, let's make a template. Let's make something with the format you've just described. We want a heading with a human readable date at the top. So, yeah, let's make a daily note template note. So your file is called Daily Note. I like to call my templates template. So, Three Template. I guess your filter kind of describes that already. Maybe for you it's redundant. You've already created a single hash and then a curly bracket date. A while since I've used this plug?in. If we delete the daily note we have and then create it again. Yeah, so if we ??

BEN: Oh, this one. And then three this. Oh, actually, I can ??

HUNG-SU: Did we configure daily notes?

BEN: I don't think so.

HUNG-SU: All right. Let's do that. Let's go into preferences. Let's go to our plug?ins. Let's go to three notes.

BEN: Here's the thing, we can configure where it goes. Uses the calendar folder using the daily note template.

HUNG-SU: Yes. And now we're good. I think.

BEN: Let's create this again. And look at that, automatically populated for us.

HUNG-SU: Hey, we automatically have a title, although it is a machine?y, looking title. We probably don't have time with this, but if you fiddle with it, you can generate a much more human title and insert all kinds of stuff, daily quotes, images. Lots of stuff you do on the templates yeah, so that is templates. Someone has found my theme. Thanks, Meg. Yes, I did make a theme. You don't have to use it. I strongly encourage you all to write your own themes because it is a really great way to practice CSS. You're writing CSS for one browser, Obsidian, and you can kind of just experiment with pretty bleeding edge features you might not get to use in your day to day. I don't get to play with CSS variables in my day to day, but I get to play with them in an Obsidian theme. Good to mess around with your own theme.

BEN: We have a couple questions here. Let's see. How do you use notes on your phone? The mobile app. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?

HUNG-SU: Yeah. So, I'm a little sad to say that it is kind of closed access. So, like, there is an Obsidian app. I use it all the time. And it is a very solid app. It is almost ?? as far as I know, it is feature complete with the desktop app, which is astounding. But you have to pay to get into that if you want to use the mobile app.

BEN: For now.

HUNG-SU: They will be opening up the mobile app to everyone soon. And it's been my experience with Obsidian developers that they are actually incredibly fast.

BEN: Mm?hmm.

HUNG-SU: So, the timeframe for Obsidian mobile app for everyone is probably in the area of a few months, maybe.

BEN: Yeah. And I think what's really worth mentioning for those newer to Obsidian, this is not even version 1 yet. We are actually still in basically a beta mode where they're constantly listening to the community and enhancing things. So things like the mobile app, like, that's a feature they're building. That also they said intends to be free as well. That's why, like, for those ?? why wouldn't you use, like, another software, Foam is brought up a lot, an open source note?taking app. A lot of similar features. For me, I love Obsidian has basically a full?time team working on it. For those that don't know, I'm on the the Vue Core Team. I love open source a lot. When it comes to my notes, it's nice knowing there is someone working full time on the infrastructure underneath it. For me, that's a big win. I don't know about you, Hung-SU.

HUNG-SU: Oh, yeah, totally agree with that. Any of you starting to play with Obsidian as well. The Obsidian Discord is one of the most active communities I've ever seen. A constant stream of really good Vibes, really, really helpful people. There's always something happening. You can always find people to help you with your particular problem. If you're writing a plug?in, confuse about the general idea of connected note taking, there are so many people there who are so ready to help you, including the Obsidian develops who are there all the time.

BEN: That's true. I'm very surprised at their response rate. Okay. I think we have time for one more question. I think Meg and Adrian are both very excited about this. So, can you link between different Vaults?

HUNG-SU: Oh. [ Laughter ] It depends how they're organized, I suppose. I'll generally say no. I have seen some people nesting vaults inside each other, but I don't ?? I do not advocate this kind of strategy. So I will generally say no.

BEN: Yeah. I would say what ?? at least as of this moment, Obsidian's biggest weakness is collaboration. So, if you want to share things between people and work on things simultaneously, still things like Notion are very, very good at that, permissions and those sort of things. Because Obsidian is privacy first, as you can imagine, unfortunately, collaboration is probably not the foremost feature, but it does seem like as they offer other services, you'll see on their site, if you want to use their Obsidian sync and publish for making your notes public to people, I think we may see more collaboration features in the future. As Hung-SU's mentioned multiple times, it is local data privacy first. If you want to collaborate, use another tool for that. Again, because things like Notion are markdown too when you copy and paste, granted they have their own flavor, you can still copy it back into your vault to reference it later. I've used one vault for my life so it's easier to switch. I don't have a work vault and a personal vault. I just keep it all in one place.

HUNG-SU: Yeah, I like that strategy as well. I want to quickly answer a question I think I see here.

BEN: Yes. Go for it.

HUNG-SU: So, I see something. Oh, no. I think I lost it. I'm pretty sure I saw something. It was ?? okay. So, if this is a note first system, what is the use for folders here from Ali Pixel? So I know that for me, sometimes I want to do some additional processing on certain kinds of files is one thing. So, I mentioned earlier that I have an embeds folder for rich media. And I like being able to separate, you know,, like, videos and PDFs and images because sometimes I might want to do, you know, a little extra processing on an image. Or, you know, I might want to snip my videos a little bit. So, that's one thing. Another big thing is publishing. So, a neat feature with Obsidian is you can publish your notes to the big wide world if you want. You probably don't want to publish everything. You probably have notes you want to, you know, keep to yourself, and notes that you keep, well, they're notes that you want to publish to the outside world. So, sometimes there are good reasons for strict categories in Obsidian. What Ben and I are generally advocating for is strict categories should not be your only organization methods. You should have a bunch of organization methods. Folders and notes and tags. Lots of different ways to organize things. Hey, these are Ben's published notes.

BEN: Yeah, this is outdated, though. I just dropped a link for the chat. It is a website. Unfortunately, we don't have time to get into this, but please feel free to check it out. This is an example of publishing it. I did a custom theme. I need to publish my night owl theme inspired by Sarah Drasner. With that, Hung-SU, the time has flown by.

HUNG-SU: We didn't have enough time.

BEN: We'll probably do another session for those of you following me on Twitch. This is the end of the takeover from Ben. If you're looking for me on my normal Twitch stream, it's under Ben code Zen. If you don't mind dropping that arrest quick. In the meantime, a huge thank you to White Coat Captioning for be here to caption today. My brain's melting. So, thanks, Jordan, for being here. Again, that's made possible by our sponsors, Netlify, Fauna, Auth0 and Hasura. So, with that, as far as the schedule, don't ?? remember that you can find the schedule for Learn With Jason here at It looks like on Tuesday ?? looks like we have something coming up. It looks like ?? May 20th is going to be the next episode for now. Learning Kotlin and JS. That said, I think that's everything for now. Thanks so much, everyone, for joining. It's been an absolute blast. Thanks, everyone, for hanging out in the chat. With that, let's call it, again, yeah, thanks, Hung-SU.

HUNG-SU: This was so much fun.

BEN: All right. Goodbye, everyone.