Obsidian as my new knowledge hub

It has happened. After more than a decade of taking notes with Zim, I have switched to Obsidian.

2011: Hello Zim

In the middle of 2008, I switched from Windows to Ubuntu, and I needed a new note-taking tool. After trying a few options, in 2011, I settled on using Zim:

  • Notes are stored as plain-text files on my computer: I can access my content even if I don’t have Zim.
  • In a previous company I co-founded, we shared our management notes with a git repository, just like we shared the software we were building.

2023: Moving on to Obsidian

By 2023, a few short-comings for Zim had become more and more of an itch.

  • The Zim syntax is not used anywhere else. Markdown had become the dominant format on most platforms, and I had to edit formatting more than I wanted to.
  • Integrating Zim with other tools and platforms wasn’t easy, and the ecosystem remained small.

I regularly experiment with other tools, and this time, I was won over by Obsidian:

  • The editor in preview mode is “enough WYSIWYG” to see formatted content, and mostly forget about syntax.
  • There are features for tasks, templates, and journaling, just as in Zim.
  • Obsidian’s Markdown offers call-outs, code blocks, and diagrams that are easier to use than in Zim.
  • Working on ideas is easier: you can have multiple notes open side-by-side, see a graph of connected notes, and organise notes on a canvas.

To add to that, the Obsidian ecosystem has a lot of plugins to make it even better:

  • I can connect to other tools, to import content from Zotero, Kindle, Hypothesis, Omnivore, Wikipedia, and more.
  • Dataviews let me query and show information.
  • Kanban boards help me manage notes more effectively.

2024: Bye bye Zim, Trello, and more

As of early 2024, I have completely migrated my content to Obsidian:

  • My Zim notes: a big thank you to Jaap Karssenberg for his work as the maintainer of Zim!
  • My private technical notes: they were somewhat lost between Zim and Asciidoc. Now they remain in Obsidian until I publish them on my “Notes” site.
  • Trello boards: my personal Trello boards are now an integral part of my notes.
  • Miro boards: several personal boards for brainstorming now live in Obsidian notes and canvases.

In the coming time, I will document my setup and processes on my “Notes” website, and share a few ways in which Obsidian works for me.

For now: it is amazing to see a new tool truly replace several of my earlier systems, and save me dozens of euros per month already.


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