Obsidian is a powerful and extensible knowledge base that works on top of your local folder of plain text files. When I was using it, I had it working on my iPad, iPhone and Windows PC. I will be going over my time whilst using the application to manage my markdown files.
Obsidian is a text editor that is available on any of your devices including Linux via an AppImage, Snap and Flatpak. It has a myriad of users on their subreddit, discord server, and forum.
Note: I no longer use Obsidian and do not have it installed on my devices so any screenshots I do have through this review will be taken from Google and I will make sure to credit the sources in the caption.
There are a few things that makes Obsidian unique. First is that it is a local-first file editor. This means that their sync service for $8/month USD is not something that is necessary. Especially since there are free to use plugins like Obsidian Git which is able to sync your files to GitHub for you so that you can sync them via GitHub to your Android Phone, Tablet, iPhone, or any other device. If you want to read how to use this software, I recommend this tutorial hosted on GitHub. It requires a bit of knowledge on programming.
This is something you have to think about whilst using Obsidian. It requires a bit of programming knowledge as well as a lot of fiddling with plugins and settings to get it set up exactly how you want it. Other programs like UpNote (LINK TO REVIEW) do not require much set up before you can get started taking notes.
Even though it requires a bit of setup, it has 875 plugins created by their community as of the date of this post. You can get Obsidian to do almost anything from embedding YouTube videos using a combination of HTML and markdown as well as connecting obsidian to read-it-later providers like Pocket & Instapaper among other things. Speaking of, it can connect Things 3 or Todoist to your notes via Obsidian Things 3 Sync or a few different Todoist Plugins. If you view their plugins directory, you can add any of their plugins directly to Obsidian by clicking “Open in Obsidian”.
There is also a built-in plugin viewer and you can read more about using it in Obsidian’s Help Docs.
Another thing that a lot of people like, is how Obsidian has a public roadmap for anyone to look at. The roadmap advises what they have released (”shipped”), what is ready for the next release, and what they are planning on working on in the future. A lot of companies keep this private because it can cause a lot of questions about why X feature is not being worked on or why Y feature is taking so long and this is not something they want to deal with. The only two companies, I know that do this are Obsidian and Bitwarden. This is not very common.
The last thing I wanted to bring up is the typing experience on Obsidian. The only app that I have found that has an equal typing experience is UpNote. You can hide all of the sidebars in Obsidian so that all you can see is the notes that you are actively typing. It has back links which are links to other notes as well as the ability to import sections of previous notes as a type of quote so you can reference specific paragraphs, words, or just the entire note in the current note you are typing. It also includes what they call “front matter” which is short values you put at the very beginning of your note so that when you use a plugin like NAME OF PLUGIN HERE you can create a note that tracks habits or whatever you would like to track through all of your notes.
It is one of the most flexible typing and creative experiences I have found in a note-taking app and is worth a shot for anyone who is willing to learn its steep learning curve.
In conclusion, I believe Obsidian is worth it if you are willing to put up with fiddling and things not working exactly as you believe they should. For me, anything that requires fiddling is out of the picture. That is because, as a full stack developer, I do fiddling every day at work so I don’t want to do fiddling in my free time. I want something that just works, that is why I use an iPad and an iPhone. They just work and I don’t have to fiddle to get them to work. Obsidian is a great note-taking app though.