Zettelkasten Forum

[Request] Move sidebar to top, better autocomplete (for txt linking and also for citations)

Hi. Just found this app and trying it out. I've been a long-time user of nvALT, and I have long been using it as a mental database or personal wiki years before I even heard of Zettelkasten. My notes folder is well over 10,000 files containing most of my research over the past few years (from whenever Brett first forked nvALT). Well, as you are probably aware, nvALT has been on life support for the past few years, and has becoming more and more buggy. I got accepted to be on the beta for nvUltra, but it just doesn't work for me: I like the design, but I am having serious slow-down issues that no one can track down. I suspect the size of my notes folder and the age of my computer (6 years old, only 8gb ram). So long story short, I find myself looking at this app.

Overall I like it and it seems to be working pretty well for me, without any slow-down (so far). One thing that instantly jumps out, and that's the inability to put the file view on top instead of on the side. I often run nvALT next to a browser or pdf to copy data from; with only a 13in screen to work with, putting the file list on top instead of on the side is essential. Any plans to add this?

Also, linking notes doesn't seem to offer autocomplete as it does in nvALT. Is this planned for a future version?

And as long as we are talking about autocomplete, one new feature from nvultra that I dig is auto complete for citations and for markdown reference links. For example, about citations, if I have a multimarkdown citation at the bottom of my note (for example: [#king:1992]: King, Stephen "Whatever book I wrote in this year". Publisher, 1992) then when I start a multmarkdown citation (for ex: [p13][#king:1992]) then after I type that second set of brackets it will popup a list of all my citations so I can pick the one I want. Any plans to add anything like this?

(then again, the autocomplete feature of nvultra may be part of what causes it to run so slow on my system. hmmm...)

The last request I can live without, the middle one would be nice, the first request is almost essential for my workflow.

Thanks for reading.


  • @atsumori1184 The two latter requests can be solved with Keyboard Maestro Macros if that's an option for you – happy to provide more details should you be interested.

    The first request is something that I have wanted before as well – especially when you work in split screen mode and want to see both the note list and the editor section it's almost essential. At the moment I'm mostly using The Archive in full screen mode (with only its window opened) – then I prefer the note list in the side bar.

    Have you tried the app FSNotes? It's also based on nvALT and offers the option to move the sidebar to the top. Linking to other notes via their title is also easy: You press cmd-9, start typing the title of the note you want to link to and can then choose the note from a list that shows the remaining matches.

  • Hi Vinho. I haven't tried FSNotes. I'll give it a look.

    Sure, I'd love to hear more on how to do those things with Keyboard Maestro. Please and thank you!

  • @atsumori1184
    For different things one can do with KM and The Archive, including links to associated macros, this thread is good.

    For linking notes with autocompletion, see here. Your citation request can be solved with something like this – the latter requires the use of a .bib file and is made for Pandoc citations, not Markdown citations.

  • edited September 2

    I would like to take the opportunity to renew the above feature request of an (optional) decision between note list on top vs. on the side. @ctietze I hope it's not too much trouble to implement such feature?

  • @analogue_man Well, we're not deciding such things based on votes alone -- so if you could share why you think that's superior, how you (intend to) use the app, that's be great so Sascha and I have something substantial to discuss when we revisit feature requests!

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

  • edited September 5

    @ctietze said:
    @analogue_man Well, we're not deciding such things based on votes alone -- so if you could share why you think that's superior, how you (intend to) use the app, that's be great so Sascha and I have something substantial to discuss when we revisit feature requests!

    I am so sorry, of course!

    1) one possible approach to titles is a very short title. But when you formulate your titles as questions for example it might get rather long, even if you try to keep it as short as simple. The notes list on top might help you with a better overview
    2) I have a MacBook Pro 13“ and TA is usually open on the 50% left of the Screen. Having the notes list on top again gives more space.

  • edited September 5

    @ctietze A possible reason for providing an option to display the sidebar on the top:

    I transitioned to The Archive from Notational Velocity (later nvAlt) which I had used for 8 years. My usage of NV was as a "scratchpad", so it made sense to keep the window minimal and small. NV used a top-down UI (search <-> file list <-> note) which was perfect for the earlier small MacBook screens, so obviously I was used to that.

    It took me awhile to get used to The Archive with the file list as a sidebar. I almost stuck with FSNotes for that reason, but I think the fact that I created the dark theme and was able to make it feel more native than FSNotes won me over (and also having a larger screen helped).

    Since some of your target user base will be previous NV users, and one of the closest alternatives to The Archive is FSNotes (also inspired by NV), it might be a good idea to think about including the option.

    Here is an example of a file list with long filenames which might be more optimally displayed on smaller screens with the sidebar on top:

    And here is what it could look like with the sidebar on top:

    Post edited by pryley on
  • I'm another one of those who used nvALT for a number of years, and never used it in the horizontal format. I got very used to having it in the right-hand third of the screen, and another program, like Scrivener, in the remaining part. That meant that I could refer to my notes while I was writing in another application, or perhaps write notes while looking at a page in Safari or from a PDF. I very much wish that vertical format was still available to me. For me, it was the perfect setup, and I do find that the present format of The Archive is awkward for me. I find it makes it difficult to use two application windows at the same time.

  • Thanks for providing these details, folks!

    So there's 2 things the vertical layout solved:

    1. Smaller footprint overall: Minimal interface to have notes available on the side without taking up much screen real estate,
    2. More space for long titles.

    (I personally never liked the vertical interface because there is so little room for the list of notes, and was very happy when we figured out how to hack a horizontal UI into the app a decade ago :) But I get your points, and things do align with features Sascha and I have been discussing over the years. So thanks again for providing information about your needs behind the requests for having a vertical layout.)

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

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