Obsidian is actually a pretty simple note taking tool. A simple editor with markdown support, but which at least does live formatting. So it will only show the markdown syntax on demand and while formatting. Notes are managed in folders and tags can be used. Not very spectacular up to this point.
Leaning on the notebox
But the real idea behind Obsidian is that it is used as a second brain. Information stored in a structured way outside your own head creates the capacity for creative thinking processes. This method became known by Niklas Luhmann and is called Zettelkasten.
The main benefit, however, does not come from outsourcing the knowledge, but from the structure that is used. Roughly speaking, one links the notes among each other and can thus follow a train of thought from a keyword step by step or branch off from it.
Sounds good and is very practical for scientific work. In my everyday life I could not establish the system so far. But that doesn't change the fact that Obsidian is a great tool for taking notes.
Simple and expandable
The simple structure of Obsidian combined with the great editor makes it pleasant to use for me. Since it's designed for the notebox, it's very easy to link notes internally, and the relationships of notes to each other are shown in a mindmap. Great for keeping track of things!
If you want more? Then there are very many plugins and themes! Since I want to store my notes future-proof, my plugins are limited to operating aids only. Otherwise I stay with the Markdown syntax. I will introduce the plugins in a separate post.
But one plugin is very important for me: Self-hosted LiveSync. On my server, I installed a CouchDB and configured the plugin on all my devices. Already I can use it to keep all devices on the same state, even if they are not online at the same time. In addition, the transfer and the data on the server are fully encrypted.
Financing model and future
Obsidian seems to have a loyal fan base. If you look at the number of extensions and themes, it's not exactly small either. Nevertheless, the development has to finance itself.
For this, Obsidian itself offers two services, which have to be paid for. Not surprisingly, there is a sync service. This offers a bit more than my solution, for example a historization up to one year. With 8 USD, however, it is not exactly cheap for 10 GB.
For twice the price, i.e. 16 USD per month, Obsidian Publish is offered. With this you can easily publish a homepage, which is created and maintained in Obsidian. Nothing for me, but for some surely interesting.
As soon as you want to use Obsidian professionally, you have to pay a license of 50 USD per year. Fair and understandable. It's just a pity that my company won't pay that.
Personally, I hope that Obsidian will continue to be developed and maintained for a long time. But since my notes are stored in a folder structure and Markdown, they will still be readable and editable in the distant future.
For me Obsidian is exactly the tool I was looking for for years. Easy to use, future proof because Markdown and I can synchronize my devices. With the plugins you can extend the operation to your needs. Even the functions can be extended, but then at the expense of future-proofing.
If you don't need sync or can set it up yourself, then Obsidian is free to use. The official Obsidian Sync I feel is too expensive, the same goes for Obsidian Publish. Here I would have gone for 5 USD or 10 USD respectively. Then I might have saved myself the trouble of setting up the database.
Nevertheless: Check out Obsidian! And while you're at it, possibly the Zettelkasten method is for you!