Zettelkasten Forum


Trying to implement Zettelkasten - on windows

I'm most of the way through the Smart Notes book. I very much like the idea of making notes in small chunks on things I learn, this makes complete sense to me. I have been making book notes on and off for years, so this is just a refinement on my regular. Being a recovering Software Developer - as soon as I find an idea I need to find software to implement it. Not always a smart idea.

Currently I work on windows computer (after 7 yr stretch with OSX). My challenge none of the windows apps seem to do a great job. My current low bar:

__Evernote __- It has tag support, it also supports links in notes and each note is stored as a shard, notes can include graphics/sketches.
limitations: links between notes aren't treated as first class objects; there is no way to visualize your notes. Since Evernote shards aren't stored in a simple format they're not compatible with any version control tools.

https://www.mindforger.com/ - supports markdown files, each note could be a file. Links are possible. It creates a knowledge graph based on its suggestions - This seems to go against the Zettelkasten principles. It has visualization mode - however the visualization appears to be its own knowledgegraph and not based on the links I create.
Limitations - Doesn't know about Zettlekasten. Just a very sophisticated markdown editor. The User Interface is fairly complicated (I've spent most of my career in IDEs - even so this is complicated). It was last updated about 9 mths and I've already found a few bugs.

https://www.zettlr.com/ - no visualization. ID Function clever but nothing more than a date stamp. It may actually be a burden.
Supports tags. Can't see how it is magically different/better than using Evernote with tags and links? (Obvious win - its markdown and therefore text. Markdown could be used with source control).
Oddly Zetllr (simple) and MindForger (powerful visualization) combined would be clever

https://app.contexted.io/ - has a windows app. Knows about visualizing as Mindmap and list. Doesn't use text/markdown. Doesn't support tags. Can't immediately get linking to work

I don't really want to switch back to a Mac just get ZettelKasten running on Tinderbox or with Devonthink.

What have I missed for tools? Is Mindforger - really usable after you spend enough time with it? Is Zettlr better than Evernote in way I can't see?

Thanks
Mark in Ottawa

Comments

  • You might want to check out QOwnNotes. It's very much like FSNotes, though a bit on the ugly side.

  • @orderinthecourts thanks for taking the time to reply.

    Based on a few minutes on the website QOwnNotes is a strong possibility.

    Strengths:

    • Markdown support
    • Tagging is a first class function
    • Its still being developed - last change was hours ago

    Limitations:

    • Internal links don't appear to exist
    • Built in support for versioning assumes that you're using OwnCloud/NextCloud (odd the settings dialog seems to think it knows about GIT :-)
    • No way to visualize linked or related notes

    Is my summary accurate?

    Thanks
    Mark

  • I semi used QOwnNotes for a time. You can "fake" internal links, they are just in a different format than traditional Zettelkasten. Tagging in it is first class, but also locked to the sqlite DB it uses (if you lose that, you lose your tags).

    It is customizable via scripts (I made one that generated Zettl-style IDs instead of their version). It's not bad.

    For visualization, even Mac has external scripts to do this. Those should work on Windows/WSL, as long as you can get the right libraries fixed for python and all.

  • @mleo2003 Thanks I just posted a question on the developers website - the Linking dialog allows you to link notes now. so I amend my original comment.

    Thanks also for noting that tags are locked into an Sqllite DB. That defeats the purpose of using a text only editor :-)

    Now I just need a simple way of visualizing - Danke

  • You might also want to check out:

    I don't actually recommend any of them as I've settled on using Sublime Text with my own scripts.

  • @sigod Thanks for taking the time to reply.

    Funnily enough I've been trying to use a QOwnNotes for a couple of days. Its a bit of a struggle since links are designed to be forward/backward and there isn't good way to marry the name/UID concept.

    I tried Roam Research and failed to get my tiny brain wrapped around it. I even find a Zettelkasten plugin for VSCode (not ready for my use just yet)

    The other three seem interesting. More playing - thanks for helping me avoiding running a business.

  • ....further to that last the Sublime ZK and Sublimeless Zettelkasten - both appear to be dead with the developer having not made a commit in ~16 mths. Sad for a few seconds they seemed good. Off to try Trillium now - aka down another rabbit hole.

  • So far, I've settled on Zettlr for Windows. I do wish it had some features (I think I would love that Omni-bar like setup on The Archive...).

    I played with zkviz linked on this forum on Windows (under Windows Subsystem for Linux). I got it to try to work, though with plotly it wouldn't show anything. Graphviz option did display things, just non-interactive.

  • @mlevison did you wind up using Trillium? I've been using Sublimeless Zettelkasten since August without an issue (even though it isn't being worked on). But I'd love to have another recommendation.

  • @mcala I tried to Trillium for a few minutes. For my style it didn't work. It had too many constraints vs what it offered.

    Currently I'm just using VS Code with a "Markdown Preview Enhanced" because it allows for more elegant footnote handling. I'm using this combo because I really want my notes under proper version control GIT/SVN style. Given my background as a software developer this combo is ok so far.

    Missing:

    • refactoring tools for Markdown

      • rename file/link - effectively a global search and replace.
      • Extract block/text - would extract a block and associated footnote references and move it another file. Linking the new file back to the old
    • No intellisense https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/editor/intellisense - would be nice for link/filename completion

    • No visualization tools - i.e. build a map of the links

    Cheers
    Mark

  • Hi @mlevison

    (I'm Dror, thanks for the opportunity for moving from lurking to commenting :smile: )

    You might want to take a look at these two options:

    • Notable.md This is what I am currently using.

      • Fast and stable
      • Creates simple markdown files with no lock-in
      • allows for tags, multiple nested folders, templates
      • Good search engine
      • On the minus side: requires manual ID typing, no visualization tools
    • Boostnote.io Used it for a while until I switched to Notable. The previous version was a bit slow. They just released version 2, but it seems that development is still ongoing.

  • @drorsh Danke - I tried both. I'm glad they work for you.

    My key requirements - work well with GIT/SVN style aren't met - both want their own storage system/function. Currently I'm ok with VS code.

    I grant that Notable's nestable tags and fuzzy search might be clever. I might try again.

  • @mlevison

    I saw you mentioned Visual Studio Code, and that preview extension. Do you currently use anything special for following links to other notes, or just manual copy/paste for jumping around? I like that editor as well, and wouldn't mind giving it a try as a full system, but was curious how you were fully using it.

  • @mleo2003 The key plugin/extension: Markdown Preview Enhanced - it allows me to select various things via a json file - I don't have the details right. I also have Pandoc installed and the preview setup to use Pandoc.

    My goal is to make my tooling as generic is possible so I don't rely on the long term energy of one maintainer. Strangely I've spent more time talking about Zettelkasten than building it.

  • @mlevison I actually went a different way, and found a decent nvAlt clone to use:
    https://github.com/cpbotha/nvpy

    Minimal design, doesn't do a whole lot other than let you type, and click links between files or external things. For what I wanted, it seems to be just fine. Leaving it here for others to see as well.

  • After their Google Group became more silent, I thought the project was left unmaintained. Thanks for bringing this up again as an open source Windows tool!

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

  • I am also on my journey to implement a Zettelkasten on Windows. On mac I use the Archive so I want something be compatible to the method that is promoted there. In the moment I use VSCode like the OP (Original Poster). I found this Add-On:
    https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=kortina.vscode-markdown-notes
    It is a great one for adding Wiki-Links and Tags functionality in VSCode. However it's not working on my setup. Just wanted to share this. Maybe one of you want to try it out and can write about the experience they had. If you found other Add-Ons that support Wiki-Links and Tags please give me a tip. "Markdown Preview Enhanced" is in my opinion not good enough because they just show the links in an extra window and there is no auto complete (as far as I checked it).

  • @mlevison : After trying several apps I opted for VNote, a cross-platform, feature-rich, markdown app. Each note is a separate file and can be accessed from within the app, of course, but also from the Explorer.

    I love markdown, but there is some formatting that I want that Md does not support: VNote supports HTML too, which has many more formatting possibilities, and that can come in handy for you. I know that for many people formatting notes is not important, or secondary, but I do format my notes.

    1 feature I love is footnotes, which I use extensively; VNote supports inline footnotes. It supports emojis too.

    There is an Edit mode and a Read mode, which you can toggle with CTRL+T, and there are plenty of other keyboard shortcuts. The .css file is editable.

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