Zettelkasten Forum

Zettlr vs Obsidian in long term


I'm finally figuring out ways in which I could build up a zettelkasten for me, but of course, this brings me concerns about the level of headaches I would have if I decided to switch apps.

So, I have a specific question: in terms of preserving an application-agnostic zettelkasten, which one is better: Zettlr or Obsidian, and why?

Thank you for your attention!


  • edited April 2022

    I use Zettlr in Windows and would alternate between this and The Archive if I switch to Mac OS (which I will probably do because I have one machine that isn't Windows 11 compatible. Microsoft is forcing many of its Windows 10 users to purchase new Windows 11-compatible hardware during a global chip manufacturing shortage, which is reason enough to avoid Microsoft if frequent Blue Screens of Death weren't reason enough).

    Zettlr has a few features that are useful to me:

    1. Zettlr comes with Pandoc
    2. In Zettlr, Pandoc export of Markdown to PdfLaTeX and source LaTeX can be customized through the File -> Preferences -> Assets Manager window.
    3. I make my customizations available at https://github.com/flengyel/Zettel and also at https://github.com/flengyel/Zettel/wiki/Zettelkasten-software-components if this is of interest.
    4. Zettlr can display level-one headers in the file and Related files display. Obsidian cannot, which makes it useless for me. This is done with Settings --> General --> "Title or first heading level 1 if applicable." It looks like this:

    Obsidian does not have this feature.

    1. Zettlr makes it possible to change the ID regex and the ID generation pattern. I document my changes at https://github.com/flengyel/Zettel/wiki/
    2. Zettlr has built-in Zotero integration.
    3. I like the Bielefeld display style (or skin).

    Perhaps Obsidian has user-contributed plugins for these. I've looked and have been unable to locate them. Also, I didn't like the plugins that I did see (I don't trust the code either).

    GitHub. Erdős #2. CC BY-SA 4.0. Problems worthy of attack / prove their worth by hitting back. -- Piet Hein.

  • One big reason for Zettlr is the link-as-search functionality. This is perhaps the most important feature implementation to make an app software-agnostic.

    I am a Zettler

  • edited April 2022
    1. What @Sascha said.

    GitHub. Erdős #2. CC BY-SA 4.0. Problems worthy of attack / prove their worth by hitting back. -- Piet Hein.

  • I agree with @Sascha and @ZettelDistraction : Zettlr has solid arguments for supporting this software.

    However, if you are like me, Zettlr can be frustrating in it own way to use. I never could make it work for me. Whatever CSS tweaks I put in it, inconsistant behavior about its css sheets makes me growl, even roar from the bottom of my heart from time to time.

    I hate its design. Lines too longs, css tweaks inconsistant. I need easy reading thanks to colors, not too much efforts on screen for my migraines, Zettlr was a really great source of hair pulling.

    So I switched into Obsidian.

    At the condition you don't use too much plugins, you'll be fine with longevity. Home and Dataview helps me to gather "#Question" tags and "#towrite" tags on my Home page. The scroll writting plugin is an essential ergonomic addition, Andy Matuschak slinding pane mode is sooo convenient, and the plugin coming with Minimal Theme makes design question trivial.

    I don't use Dataview a lot (the most popular plugin in Obsidian), because it is not "plain text" : without the interpreter which works with raw frontmatter, it is just six ` and "dataview" written in the middle. But when I write something and I find a question that need to be resolved, I can make a tag just like that :

    It is tempting to use this kind of table EVERYWHERE. But writing has benefits and you can't loose written indexes for example. You can make custom css class too which are readed by you preview theme on live edition. It can use "alias" which are suggest just like file name while typing hypertext.

    It does not have Zotero native integration, however, you'll need a plugin. Pandoc is a plugin too. It is not something I approuve, the plugins' case… I think it should be natives functions. But you still can do Zotero and Pandoc with it. You can add a Pandoc integration in VS code or Sublime Text to export your work as well. You can still use Pandore with console, if you feel adventurous.

    So if you are the kind to play and test everything… Use Zettlr first, try to see if it fits to your need. If not, go into Obsidian, but keep in mind that plugin may access to your data, may disturb the way the software works, and sometimes, make you lose data as well.

    Obsidian is easy to switch from if you don't give into "plugins mania".

  • @Loni said:
    So I switched into Obsidian.

    Which theme is this?

Sign In or Register to comment.