Small online tool for link previews in Zettelkasten

Hey all,

I built a small tool for myself and wanted to share it with you

Context:
I basically have everything in my Zettelkasten and that includes things I find online I want to watch/read/play.

Up until recently I sent those to myself in Telegram where it creates a nice preview image of the link, which makes it a lot easier to remember what the link was about.
You might know that functionality also from Slack or Notion. However I haven't found a dedicated tool that generates these previews for me to put into my Zettelkasten.

Solution:
I built this small generator where you paste a link and it outputs a link preview as downloadable PNG so you can use it like any image.
There are also some copy-pasteable markdown-snippets so the content can be quickly added to the Zettelkasten.

Let me know what you think (maybe I am also the only one who had this kind of problem)
Any feedback is welcome

You can find it at link-previews.stephanbogner.de
FYI: It's also on ProductHunt

Screenshot of my watchlist:

• Interesting Idea. I have to get over my suspicion of and aversion to what feels like spamming with most web-based tools and converters.

This works great on youtube, vimeo, and IMDB. What about other web stuff or is this strictly for video? In which case the name is misleading. It should be "Video Link Preview Generator".

I didn't get any actual link as shown in your example above. There was no http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=... to click on to actually get back to the preview for consumption. Is this supposed to happen?

Will Simpson
I'm a futzing, second-guessing, backtracking, compulsive oversharing, ZK-maniac, in other words, your typical zettelnant.
Research areas: Attention Horizon, Productive Procrastination, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing, Cognitive Workload, Python, Data Science
kestrelcreek.com

• edited July 8

@st_phan That's a weird but interesting idea to use images like that in your notes!

I do think you could eventually monetize this for website owners well, by the way, like: https://mugshotbot.com/

I found that the form cannot be submitted by hitting Enter in the URL field. Maybe a type="submit" or so missing?

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

• Hi @Will,

thanks for checking it out – despite your aversion

Interesting Idea. I have to get over my suspicion of and aversion to what feels like spamming with most web-based tools and converters.

I also have a mixed image of web based tools. Some are awesome and I love to use them, like Glyphy, CloudConvert or Ezgif.

This works great on youtube, vimeo, and IMDB. What about other web stuff or is this strictly for video? In which case the name is misleading. It should be "Video Link Preview Generator".

Good question. It definitely doesn't work on all sites.
It also works well for games (e.g. Itch, Steam, Nintendo e-Shop) and for larger publications (e.g. NYTimes, TheVerge).
Right now it strictly based on the OpenGraph tags and thus the quality depends on the site. I also thought whether I could generate something: e.g. a small screenshot of the website but I wasn't sure if that is helpful at all ...

I didn't get any actual link as shown in your example above. There was no http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=... to click on to actually get back to the preview for consumption. Is this supposed to happen?

No, good call!
I forgot to add that to the copy-paste functionality on the website.
I just released a new version where this is fixed.

• @ctietze

@st_phan That's a weird but interesting idea to use images like that in your notes!

Haha, it also felt a bit like a hack TBH ... but it works surprisingly well.

I am still torn about file names though:

I do think you could eventually monetize this for website owners well, by the way, like: https://mugshotbot.com/

Thanks for the idea.
I don't really have plans to monetize it (as of now at least). I wanted to check out first whether other people would find the tool handy, but let's see what happens

But I have some other (hopefully) more commercial projects in the works, so let's see how it goes ...

I found that the form cannot be submitted by hitting Enter in the URL field. Maybe a type="submit" or so missing?

Thanks for mentioning – should be fixed now!

• What I’d use more frequently would be a browser plugin where when I was at a site that I wanted to capture a snapshot of, there’d be a button to put the small screenshots in the clipboard. That way I’d not have to remember the URL or stop, go to link-previews.stephanbogner.de, do a copy/paste dance, return to The Archive, and do an other copy/paste dance. Maybe this could be automated?

Will Simpson
I'm a futzing, second-guessing, backtracking, compulsive oversharing, ZK-maniac, in other words, your typical zettelnant.
Research areas: Attention Horizon, Productive Procrastination, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing, Cognitive Workload, Python, Data Science
kestrelcreek.com

• @Will

Yeah, the workflow is definitely not the best:
1. Copy URL, 2. go to website, 3. paste URL, 4. download file, 5. move to right folder, 6. go back to browser, 7. copy markdown, 8. go to Zettelkasten, 9. paste Markdown.

I actually like how online based note-taking tools do it. E.g. Notion where you paste an URL it does everything right in the tool.

If I checked correctly The Archive will have eventually have "Scriptability" with which a similar functionality could be achieved.

I think there are many approaches that would be useful. What you describe sounds a bit more (but not exactly) like a "read later" functionality of something like Instapaper, where you push a button and the rest is handled by the tool.

I really like that The Archive is so pure. Sometimes it can feel a bit tedious, but that also forces you to do things more consciously. Friction is like a feature. I could imagine that people that have a physical Zettelkasten are much more mindful because of the effort it takes to e.g. change a note or link.

And btw: @Will thanks for the thoughtful comments. It's a pleasant surprise to be on the internet and yet have a positive exchange of ideas/thoughts

• @st_phan said:
If I checked correctly The Archive will have eventually have "Scriptability" with which a similar functionality could be achieved.

I'm holding my breath. A small bird told me this is imminent.

I really like that The Archive is so pure. Sometimes it can feel a bit tedious, but that also forces you to do things more consciously. Friction is like a feature. I could imagine that people that have a physical Zettelkasten are much more mindful because of the effort it takes to e.g. change a note or link.

"Friction is feature." It is a feature that forces purposeful work. Your observation about the friction in a physical zettelkasten being related to some of the simple workflows of The Archive is right on.

Too much automation in the wrong spot defeats knowledge creation and solidification. This is something I think about often. I don't want a third-party algorithm doing the work I should be doing. But a helping hand with some tedium is welcome.

Will Simpson
I'm a futzing, second-guessing, backtracking, compulsive oversharing, ZK-maniac, in other words, your typical zettelnant.
Research areas: Attention Horizon, Productive Procrastination, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing, Cognitive Workload, Python, Data Science
kestrelcreek.com