Zettelkasten Forum


[REQUEST] Change font in note list

GBCGBC
edited June 6 in The Archive

Split out from a discussion on the main forum at Christian's request, the monospaced font for the note list leads to visually overwhelming numbers in the UIDs. It would be good to have the choice of fonts for this area.

Obsidian is a good example (to me) of a more 'readable' interface, even when UIDs are included in the file name.

Comments

  • Can you maybe provide picture of what you like, and don't like, when it comes to number in the notes list for comparison?

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • @ctietze Sure.

    Below is the same archive vault in Obsidian and TA. To me (and I know that is subjective) the file list in Obsidian is much more visually scannable. The font used makes the UIDs less visually dominant. Perhaps more controversially, the proportional font makes the title text easier to read - although I fully appreciate it knocks out the alignment.

    With obsidian, you can use cmd + / cmd - to zoom in / out which also includes the note list. Actually, being able to adjust the font size of the note list would be incredibly useful for ease of reading, even without changes to the font.

    Incidentally, the UI on Obsidian is configurable by CSS.


  • It is entirely possible that the importance of the UID continues to elude me. But...

    Why not reduce visual clutter by reducing the size of the 12 digit UID? If you have Keyboard Maestro you can create your own:

    1. Eliminate the leading 20 -- unless you are very optimistic about how long your ZK will be around. Leaves 10 digits.
    2. Delete the last four digits and append a two-digit sequence number that resets when first used after midnight. Two digits is enough for 100 notes per day. Leaves 8 digits.
    3. Use KM to replace the entire UID with a 4 digit sequence number with leading 0's. For example: 0027, 0183 and 0251. Four digits is enough for 10K notes - use 5 digits if you think 10K is insufficient. A sequence number will maintain uniqueness and date created sort order. If you are concerned that 0183 might show up elsewhere in a note, create the sequence number with a trailing colon. Or maybe a trailing colon and a space. You could then construct names that would be much easier to read:

    0184: Aristotle: Doctrine of the Mean
    0185: Aristotle: The role of the intellectual

    You lose specific date information in the title, but that is easy to provide and much easier to read in the notes themselves.

  • edited June 7

    @GBC said:
    @ctietze Sure.

    Below is the same archive vault in Obsidian and TA. To me (and I know that is subjective) the file list in Obsidian is much more visually scannable. The font used makes the UIDs less visually dominant. Perhaps more controversially, the proportional font makes the title text easier to read - although I fully appreciate it knocks out the alignment.

    With obsidian, you can use cmd + / cmd - to zoom in / out which also includes the note list. Actually, being able to adjust the font size of the note list would be incredibly useful for ease of reading, even without changes to the font.

    Incidentally, the UI on Obsidian is configurable by CSS.


    Besides the monospaced number characters, the most striking difference with those screenshots is the font weight. In contrast to Obsidian, The Archive screenshot text looks bold which is possibly what is throwing you off even more than the monospace.

    I personally prefer the system font in the UI to match the native feel of macOS. Also, I like how the Zettel ID numbers are fixed width with the system font, it aligns all of the note titles. To each, their own I guess 🤷🏻‍♂️.

    Post edited by pryley on
  • @pryley said:

    @GBC said:
    @ctietze Sure.

    , The Archive screenshot text looks bold which is possibly what is throwing you off even more than the monospace.

    You might be correct on that. Certainly the size (as a whole) is too dominant,I like the fact that you can soon in / out with obsidian and find out easier to scan material that's relatively small, but the bold nature of the font is a very good point. Perhaps just a lighter mono font, with ability to change the size, would be enough

    . Also, I like how the Zettel ID numbers are fixed width with the system font, it aligns all of the note titles. To each, their own I guess 🤷🏻‍♂️.

    The shrug isn't needed, I mentioned the alignment problem above and knew it wouldn't suit everyone. It doesn't entirely suit me, but working with obsidian I'm finding the mild (and it's super mild with my current note set, although I accept it would be more significant with notes with vastly different years / months) misalignment to be less distracting than the font choice of the archive.

    If I have time later (which I shouldn't, as I have exams this week to study for) I'll try / modify the various obsidian themes to see what different fonts they use and (on the assumption that the css also affects the notes list) whether there's a font that is mono AND readable.

  • @pryley said

    the system font in the UI to match the native feel of macOS

    I do sometimes wonder if I try to use a mac too much like a windows machine. But I guess I'm just representative of a certain user type - excited enough about the possibilities of Mac to invest into the system but very much raised on the benefits of certain kinds of UI.

    Personally, when I read mono fonts (some or worse than others), I can sense my eyes / brain / internal reading voice 'hitting' each character before taking it in as a word. It's not a long process but it's a mildly uncomfortable one.

  • Just to clarify -- The note list is macOS's system font (San Francisco on recent macOS versions); it's used in a variant where numbers are evenly spaced for the "blocky" effect, to improve scanning, without affecting the remainder of the list. -- Monospaced letters would reduce the title length that fits a lot.

    You can change the font size in the "Appearance" settings here:

    (I personally like 14--16 on my non-retina Mac, but I could go with 13--14 on retina screens.)

    We put a request far on the back-burner whether themes should be able to affect the notes list's font. It'll now probably pop up when work on version 2 and a UI overhaul are planned. Using the system font for system components is a """good""" first implementation to keep a consistent look, but I get where you're coming from, and I also get why people from time to time request more options for customizing the UI and make the knowledge sandbox more of a home.

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • Ah!! I hadn’t found that setting. Huge apologies - it may be that this solves a lot for me. I’ll take a look when I’ve done cranking up my Mac (which appears to be having issues at the mo) and will report back.

  • Reporting back! (my mac needs some serious attention - it is flying in safe mode but grinding to a halt in ordinary mode, so I have some investigation to do). The font size 'does' make a difference - a fantastic difference when notes are just text. Even with UIDs in the title, it's an improvement to my eyes of about 60%. The UID is still visually too dominant, again for my eyes. I suspect it's the way the zeros are portrayed. Perhaps with this font size I might be able now to learn to look past that - it will certainly let me move forward, but being able to choose the font would be awesome...

  • Reporting back (again): I've had chance to see TA in use on a different (newer) MacBook and that makes a big difference to the readability of the file list. I can actually see why people think it possible to 'see past' the UID on the newer screen. So, from my point of view, I'm happy for this request to be closed since (for me) it seems to only be an issue on certain equipment set ups.

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