DevOps Blog - Nicolas Paris

Obsidian as Note Taking App for Technical People

Learning

Context

I'm software engineer, more a DevOps now. like everyone, I take notes, lot of them.

What is Obsidian

I used differents application like OneNote, TiddlyWiki, Boostnote, Notion, Joplin and others. I'm now using Obsidian, and here is some thougts about it.

Maybe it is the first time you hear about Obsidian, it's a note taking app, with the following in mind

Markdown

This is a well stablished standard, for 15+ years back to 2005-2010 I would say, easy to write, easy to write code blocks. Markdown are used for every static website generator. Copy paste your markdown from a note to a website without frictions.

Use a standard for note taking is important if you want to changes your system without to much efforts.

Markdown is a no brainer.

Own your files

In notion, you can exports files in markdown, not every application does. When was the last time you tried the export feature of your note taking application?

I'm a developper and now DevOps, I can handle some files sync and backup solutions on my own. I now anytime where my files are, where they are backup, and how my markdown look like

Relations between notes

Obsidian is all about relationships between notes, and not so much about directories. Obsidian have this in mind from start and make everything easy to make links between notes, and tracks backlinks.

You might argue that exactly what a wiki is, I have nothing to say against that. The concept remind me of TiddlyWiki and his non-linear approch.

I was watching some Coursera MOOC about leadership which has an important topic on know to link stuffs, meaning the important thing is not (only) knowledge or relationnal network, but more how you connect each other.

Resources

Some personne spend some crazy amount of time to set this up, and dedicated some youtube channel that you might check.

Code, DevOps and Programmers

I'm both, more DevOps now, but I need to store yaml files. Markdown does it well and Obsidian render them fine for me.

Knowledge vs Ideas

Obsidian is more focus on keep ideas than keep a knowlege base, like a second brain. It works with knowledge base. The probleme come when you reach a certain amount of notes, I guess I'm not at this point yet.

Daily notes

Calendar plugins does a good job for day to day, even weekly review. Logseq might be beter with his sequential, but I rather have everything in one place. Plugins exists to make Obsidian behave like an sequential note taking

The Obsidian, or methods underlying is more about the content your want, often about write something. If link notes are obvious for writing, it might be usefull as well for technical content as stuffs we read or watch might be all tie togother. Lots inside DevOps are part of a chain, link togother, even software architecture work with DevOps.

Logseq and Obsidian side by side

The workflow is interresting, here my thougts on the setup that I tried for a few weeks.

The workflow explain by youtubers is a well polish process, but it might be overkill for my need.
I'm not taking notes all day long (well, not so true I guess). The idea to simplify a process or
you wont use it make sense if you are not over doing your note taking. They told us in videos that
the workflow might not be for everybody, It's seems like they spend a fair amount of time to think thougt
the system, it sounds nice, but the problem if it's note easy for you, in the reflex aera, you might not
even use it. Have a thougt, put it on your system, add some link to other thoughts, done. Anytime, anywhere.

I like the idea to have all notes in one place that I can take care of. Logseq override my markdown
with him stuff, I dont want to mess with my files. I'm not sure why logseq keep annotation inside a
"hidden" dot folder, It would be much more difficult to keep annotation sync with the actual markdown
I guess. It is not so important for daily notes, I'm not going back to old day to day notes, and I wont
mind if they are messed up. The idea to mix some well establish standard like markdown with some home
made annotation bother me.

Logseq and Obisian side by side will not fit my use case.

Conclusion

First time I tried Obsidian (for documentation purpose) I thougt it was nice, but did not realise the whole system it implies. The second time, when I was looking into Obsidian for personnal use I realized that Obsidian is not about a note taking app but an entire system to think thougt your note taking habbits with his own words and concepts like evergreen notes, Zettlekasten system...

Updates

2 months after