Zettelkasten Forum


Future proofing my Zettelkasten – file names and linking

I've over the summer loaded my Zettelkasten (built and maintained with The Archive) into some of the new kids on the block (Obsidian and nvUltra). This has made it obvious that plain text files is not in themselves enough to build a future proof Zettelkasten in terms of functionality. The content of my files are obviously available to browse in other software that can load my Zettelkasten folder. But links are often broken.

I partly is to blame for this myself. My file names are in the format YYMMDDHHMMSS - The title of the file.md but in my zettels, I only use [[YYMMDDHHMMSS]]. This is for two reasons:

  1. Just using the UID for my links makes it possible to change the title and filename of a zettel without breaking existing links.
  2. Just using the UID adds readability when doing inline linking within paragrahs.

Before I opened my Zettelkasten in Obsidian and nvUltra, I thought I had a foundation that was rock steady. Now I know better.

Both Obsidian and nvUltra supports wikilinks, that is [[decisions]] but not the kind of links I've created so far.

I guess I'm not the first on this forum who has started to think along those terms. How do you work with links to make not only content but also connections between notes as long term as possible? What about filenames? Would it be better to just go with the UID? The downside of that is that autocompletion in software supporting that wont work.

At least Obsidian seems to have implemented standard Markdown links in a recent release ([this is the text I want linked](YYMMDDHHMMSS - And this is the file being linked).md). Is that a feature on the roadmap for The Archive?

Descisions, decisions, decisions.

Comments

  • The links are not broken but you can't access them via the app-specific functionality. Technically, The Archive does not use an app specific feature but just search. So: As long as you can perform a search on your full archive you can still follow your links. See the TextMate Demo as an example.

    I am a Zettler

  • YYMMDDHHMMSS - The title of the file.md but in my zettels, I only use [[YYMMDDHHMMSS]].

    I am also using this format within my text editor. Out of curiosity, is there any Software that supports this type of linking?

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • @sfast said:
    The links are not broken but you can't access them via the app-specific functionality. Technically, The Archive does not use an app specific feature but just search. So: As long as you can perform a search on your full archive you can still follow your links. See the TextMate Demo as an example.

    True. I should have made that distinction in my first post. :)

    So let me rephrase my question: Any ideas on what link format and file name convention that will eventually emerge as the standard?

  • edited September 7

    @thoresson said:
    Any ideas on what link format and file name convention that will eventually emerge as the standard?

    follow up question: what is a standard? I.e. For what kind of Software are you in search of compatibility with? Markdown renderers, perhaps?

    and the reverse question: is there any widely used format that can also be used for a Zettelkasten?

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • @sfast said:
    See the TextMate Demo as an example.

    That's a great demo, that's also an argument for sticking to [[UID]] for links. And it's also an argument to change the meta data section of my zettels, from "uid: YYMMDDHHMMSS" to "uid: [[YYMMDDHHMMSS]]" to have them easily clickable in The Archive.

    But that last note, about catering to the functionality within The Archive is in part also a comment on @zk_1000's question: What I mean with "standard" in this context is a format for links that will most probably work with most software's internal functionality for links.

  • @thoresson, I also leave the filename with a UID fixed and the rest of the filename could be changed anytime without worrying of breaking links. In my filenames I use less than 5 words separated by dashes (20200907a12-small-brief-title) and inside the note I use a long and descriptive title. Also, I always include a one-sentence description summary of my notes in the first line of the zettel, and when I link notes I copy-pase that description and the UID-title.

  • @thoresson I tried opening my ZK directory and Obsidian and I see what you mean. You can't just click on a UID link; you have to search for it. Maybe that explains why when I look in the map view in Obsidian I see all these extra nodes that have just UID numbers and don't show the full file name.

    I noticed Zettlr has the same issue.

    Having to search on a UID every time would be a bother; the only alternative seems to be to only use UIDs in your file names or use the full file name in your Zettel links.

    My Zettelkasten workflow is with The Archive (on my computer) and iA Writer (on my iPad). I get the issue, but I'm not sure I want to change the way I name my files.

    @Splattack Good practices to follow.

  • @thoresson said:
    But that last note, about catering to the functionality within The Archive is in part also a comment on @zk_1000's question: What I mean with "standard" in this context is a format for links that will most probably work with most software's internal functionality for links.

    [[Full Title]] seems to be the link format that works with the most programs I have access to. Zettlr, The Archive, Obsidian, and DevonThink all can use this linking format. Linking using only [[ID]] only works if the program treats links as searches. The Archive and Zettlr appear to be the only programs that treat links in this manner.

    Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about a program's internal linking functionality when you're thinking about future proofing. Writing your notes to utilize a program's internal linking will eventually lead to broken links. The point of the [[ID]] linking format is that you can always search for the ID number listed and find the note referenced. It's not necessarily the most convenient way to do linking depending on the program you are using, but future-proofing isn't about convenience. If you use the ID number as the link, you will always find the note you are referencing by searching.

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