So Close to Replacing Ulysses with Obsidian for Book but for

If you think you will be done in 1-2 years for your book it’s just worth the subscription. You can concentrate on getting the book out than fiddling with the tool. A happy writing platform with less friction goes along way. If it were me I would just stick with Ulysses and reconsider later in future if I still need once the book is out.

3 Likes

Here is a code block that show what transcluded files look like in Obsidian

---
publish: false
---
![[TV_Shows_To_Watch]]
![[Movies_To_Watch]]

and here is what a subset of the note looks like in reading mode.


Note that the first page of the transcluded note is shown with a scrollbar to read the rest of it. Then the second transcluded note is below. There is a far rihght side scrollbar to move through the entire source document “Entertainment”

Yes to PDF I print out my TV and Movie lists and have them over in the living room by the remotes.

I think yes to docx using the Pandoc plugin but I’ve not tried that. I understand that it can be cumbersome to get set up but works well ocne you figure it all out. but no personal experience

As to adding plug-ins. I always us ethe search in community plugin-s in Obsidian nad only go to the GitHub code if I want to look at the source, verify something or think I may fork it and make some changes for just me. Not something a normal user would normally do though.

2 Likes

Though perhaps the least of your issues, it’s trivial in Word to make endnotes footnotes and vice versa. Select all, right click, convert to chosen format.

2 Likes

Don’t do it @Bmosbacker!

Your workflow works now. Don’t force it.

9 Likes

After reading the helpful responses–thank you–and reading assessments of Obsidian for long form writing by other academics, I’ve decided to keep my current workflow: Obsidian for PKM and a dedicated writing app for the actual writing work. Doing otherwise seems to be trying to force Obsidian to do something that it is not designed to do well. To use a bad analogy, it is a bit like using my SUV to haul stuff. It can be done–to an extent, but my truck is better at that task. :slightly_smiling_face:

Now, back to my original workflow and writing … :slightly_smiling_face:

6 Likes

Much appreciated, @OogieM

I also like having my writing in one spot. I do use Ulysses to send content to my site as the Obsidian plugin doesn’t do a great job.

If you’re interested in some of the features for writing check out the links to some videos I produced. If you’re happy with the two app still, use what works for you.

I did a walkthrough of the longform plugin here: Obsidian Longform Plugin - YouTube

I also did a video on plugins for writers: 9 Must Have Obsidian Writing Plugins - YouTube

1 Like

@curtismchale thanks for the response. By the way, I’ve watched a lot of your videos and they are excellent. Your videos are among my few top “go to” resources.

May I ask if you’ve done very long (near book length) writing in Obsidian that included footnotes? If so, in addition to the YouTube videos you mentioned above, do you have other resources that you would recommend that would help with this process?

@curtismchale subscribed! You’re my new hero!!!

2 Likes

I must be the only one who doesn’t like Obsidian. It is quite simply ugly. No theme solves this problem. Functionality is mainly driven by plugins that are here one day and gone another. I like the idea of Obsidian, but not its implementation. No matter how many times I use it the greatest friction is that I don’t like it. :man_shrugging:

4 Likes

Same. I want to love it, but I just can’t.

1 Like

I’m far more in love with the principle of everything being in plain text files in a central application with the files being assessable by multiple other applications than I am with Obsidian as an application. I have tried to love Obsidian but it’s a challenge! Unless I discover a more eloquent approach to using Obsidian, I will continue to migrate all of my writing back to Ulysses and all of my research into DEVONthink. In fact, I’ve imported all of my research into DEVONthink where I am creating my atomic summary notes of research. On a monthly basis I am exporting all of my DEVONthink files into an archive vault that can be, if I desire, accessed by Obsidian. There is a pull to Obsidian but so far it has failed to capture me.

It just so happens that I took a screenshot of my work in DEVONthink for a book project with my new puppy sitting beside me in my study to share with my three daughters. I’m finding that this approach with DEVONthink is working well.

2 Likes

Even here, I agree in principle, but in practice it actually make little to no difference for me. The iPad is perhaps the only bit of tech that would require that of me. I’ll probably replace that with a macbook or macair to solve this issue. Having everything in macOS solves nearly all my issues. The ipad, since I’ve had it, has become a device of very few tasks. I had envisioned it being my main device, but 4 years later I only use it for a couple of things, although Craft may change that!

I also don’t really like markdown. I much prefer a rich text environment. I’m using the Craft trial which is far closer to what I’m after. I’m also amazed that how I feel about an app I’m using can affect my creativity and productivity. When I open Obsidian my work motivation drains out of my body, whereas when I open Craft I’m looking forward to doing work. How weird is that! The same could be said with Omnifocus and Things.

I don’t think that’s weird at all! When I pick up my fancy DSL I feel far more inspired to be creative then when I pick up my iPhone to take pictures. Perhaps that’s analogous to using a Mac versus an iPad or using Obsidian versus a program like Craft.

1 Like

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, I find Obsidian quite beautiful, and plugins are open-source so I can always fork them (although I don’t use many). Many of the highly praised apps on this forum (DEVONthink and Things come to mind) feel, to me, rather unwelcoming or inflexible. Work is messy, and an app that feels a bit too pretty is like tracking mud onto a white carpet :grin:

Not to say that you are wrong, of course, merely wished to share the view from « the other side » so to speak.

2 Likes

That is a very powerful point. I think part of why I am moving everything to Obsidian is that, for me, when I open my Obsidian vault I see limitless possibilities. I see a lovely network of branching nodes that makes sense of my disparate interests, both corralling them into logical groups but supporting the cross linkages that exist between nearly all areas of interest.

I have played with themes until I have one that mimics my old RTF colors and headings. I have the detritus of several failed workflows in Obsidian that I really should clean up but I also know the data they captured are not lost. The links I made allow me to find them quickly. I’ve taken to trying to clean up each note a little bit each time I open it. This process can be seen in my slowly organizing graph view. I get a visceral ping of pleasure when I open up the graph view and see more neatly organized nodes and less cruft around the edges. It’s a visual representation of bringing order to the chaos of my mind and interests.

I get far more value out of my decades long collection of snippets, notes, thoughts, etc. in Obsidian than I ever did when it was all in DEVONThink and I was a huge proponent of DT for years.

I am not worried about the plug-ins I use. I have explored the source code of the major ones and feel confident that in a pinch I can fork and maintain them if required. I am starting to support some of those developers with the buy me a coffee or similar ways to give them some $ to keep going. I do keep track and because I have few subscriptions for software I’m still money ahead doing that for tools that are a pleasure to use.

Everyone needs to find their own set of software that delights, supports and encourages them in achieving the goals they set for themselves. That’s the purpose of computers to aid the human mind in whatever fields of interest for each person.

3 Likes

Limitless possibilities can confound me. I am too easily distracted. Branching nodes can confuse me. For all the exploration that I enjoy doing, I am often at heart just a conservative engineer who needs a bit of a priori assurance that I have one best path forward. Finally, I have yet to see myself reaching a level where I sense that Obsidian is doing any corralling and supporting. I seem instead to be stuck at the level where I see Obsidian as a way to stuff stuff into collection of boxes and tie strings among them.

Even as a novice in both tools, I appreciate this statement as a distinction between them. The corresponding power in DT is its ability to search and collate information contained within electronic files such as PDFs, DOCXs, and the like.


JJW

2 Likes

Same here, and I actually find this to be more useful than Obsidian doing this for me, since I can make my own connections and only as many as personally needed to reduce distraction.

I’ve also not found something that is as good as Obsidian for note-taking and linking between markdown files, that also has the same “level of openness” (just text in a folder). Any distractions app suggestions are welcome :slight_smile:

I haven’t done longer book-length stuff in Obsidian yet. The last books I wrote were in Scrivener. I am currently slowing gearing up towards book-length writing with footnotes in Obsidian though and I’ll do videos on that when I start the work.

At this point, I’ve written longer (3k - 5k) stuff in Obsidian with footnotes, and tailoring the keyboard shortcuts was one of the bigger benefits so I could access footnotes easily.

1 Like

Just a small update. I tried using Obsidian for some writing work this weekend since Ulysses is up for renewal in a few days. The Longform plugin is a truly impressive piece of work, but just falls short, partly due to appearance and lack of research/material sheets. It also stands out as an ‘add on’ to the main product, not really integrated.

Obsidian itself without Longform might be OK, using transclusion as described above, although with even a small number of files it becomes unweildy and difficult to use, at least in the live editor. There is not any ability to manually order folders or documents in them which has been a longstanding feature request for Obsidian. Folders are always listed in alphabetical order which isn’t ideal when I use dates and the latest is at the bottom of a long list.

I did manage to tweak CSS to produce the PDF output format I wanted, although it is far more constrained than Ulysses or Scrivener - for example page numbers don’t seem possible. It doesn’t (natively) support export to docx except through the Pandoc plugin which is a lot of work if you want anything other than the default formats.

I think you could make it work as a longform writing tool but, as @Bmosbacker said, it’s not really designed for that.

1 Like