Zettelkasten Forum

Thinking of moving from NVALt

Hi all,

I have been a longtime NVAlt user and have been waiting a long time for its replacement (Bitwriter).

Searching twitter for any updates i have found reference to 'The Archive' and have been intrigued by its use if Zettelkasten (not something i have heard about before). May i ask some questions:-
1. What are the functional differences between NVAlt and The archive, on the surface they seem very similar apps
2. I have set up nvalt using the note title as means of finding my way around my notes. How could i transfer this structure to Zettelkasten? I have very few links between notes or tags.
3. How does The Archive handle images? Is there a tool that will allow viewing of 'The Archive' notes on iOS and include images? On iOS I am currently using Editorial and have used 1Writer in the past.

Sample of my note title structures:-

  • diary-yyyy-mm-dd-description
  • quote-author-quote
  • recipe to try-title
  • recipe-title
  • recipe X-title
  • recipe XXX-title
  • recipe to try-title
  • ref
    • ref-books
    • ref-car
    • ref-computer
    • ref-cooking
    • ref-doc
    • ref-family
    • ref-garden
    • ref-health
    • ref-library
    • ref-local


  • Let me tackle the note-related question first:

    The note title structures you use are useful when you sort notes by name: then you have all recipes next to one another, for example. This mimicks a rigid directory structure.

    I'd suggest you try to move the info "this is a recipe" from the file name into the note text as a tag: #recipe. Then you can use the full-text search for "#recipe" to get to the set of notes that are recipes. This doesn't produce any benefit on its own, except maybe show more of the actual note title because you can remove the repeating "recipe" prefix. But now you can add other tags, too, like #baking, #low-carb, #cake, or what have you. Using the search, you can drill down your recipes by searching for #recipe #low-carb #cake, for example, hopefully resulting in a low-carb cake recipe :)

    The name prefix doesn't have any advantage when it comes to full-text search. It makes your thinking more rigid, though. Tags are loose connection between notes, and you can add or drop them from notes anytime without much effort. (Also, file name changes usually feel more important than tag changes to me.) When you get used to using tags like this, it's easier to change a note fundamentally in the future, like splitting its contents into multiple other notes, extracting each informational part as its own piece, then leave the original as an index, subsequently changing tags to better fit its new contents.

    Linking notes by an arbitrary identifier (we suggest using date-based numbers for that purpose) helps keep links stable between notes. You can change the title, the content, the tags -- as long as the ID remains the same, the rest of your archive will not be affected.

    Regarding your other questions:

    • image viewing in The Archive will become easier than the current approach of adding a link to the image file, but I don't know about any good iOS companion app that handles images well; 1Writer is an excellent choice to browse your notes, though
    • The Archive adopts the core interaction paradigms from Notational Velocity/nvALT, so it should feel familiar; Saved Searches (and now boolean searches, too) and pretty Markdown highlighting are some of the currently implemented advancements, more coming

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

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