Syncing an indexed database/folder (for Obsidian)

Apologies in advance for what must be a rudimentary issue, but I can’t quite tell the best way forward here.

My case: I am playing with Obsidian for note taking and have tried ‘indexing’ the Vault in DT. This works brilliantly as the Wikilinks remain ‘live’ so I get the best of both worlds (Obsidian’s back links; relationship graphs (for what it’s worth), AND the ability to navigate the links in DT and add directly to the vault from there, and connect the md files to other parts of my working spaces in DT. Magic!

However, I work between two Macs. So, I place my Vault inside Dropbox to allow my two instances of Obsidian to access the data.

In DT, do I now:
a) create one such database in one location, and then sync the indexed database (or indexed folder in a larger db) through a sync store (I use Cloudme at the moment); OR
b) index the Dropbox Vault folder from two non-synced databases, set up on each separate instance of DT3?

Cheers, all! S.

Keep it simple. All you need to do is to index the same Dropbox folder in both instances of DEVONthink. It doesn’t have to be the same database in each instance. Be sure not to edit a file simultaneously on both Macs – though that appears unlikely.

Just remember, how Obsidian deals with all the background updating that DEVONthink and Dropbox sync involve is indeterminate – it wasn’t built for sharing. There is an sync feature on the Obsidian roadmap, but how that will work has not been publicized.

Keep regular backups and do not rely on Dropbox to look after your data.

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An upcoming release of DEVONthink will show back links in the Document > Links inspector.


Wow - that would be really cool, thanks!

Wise words @korm many thanks. I do, of course, have a robust back up plan in place. @cgrunenberg’s note on backlinks coming to DT at some point might persuade me to hold out a little bit longer. In principle I would like to keep all my note-taking within DT, but can see some distinct advantages to Obsidian at the moment in how it visualises/enables relationships between notes, hence dipping my toes in now. Cheers!

Be aware that from the current release (0.9.7), Obsidian uses a sui generis method for so-called block links that places a particular notation in the .md file’s text which DEVONthink and other markdown-aware applications will not be able to parse as block links. It’s clever, but users should be careful when editing Obsidian files indexed in DEVONthink because the notation can be destroyed easily.

Thanks, @korm. That’s good to know. I am not sure I have tried that feature out.

I was quite taken with the way that Obsidian draws in other notes by use of the ![[xxx]] syntax (transclusion, I think?). That offers exactly what I am after: reading/literature notes that respect a source’s chronology of argument, but the ability to construct these notes from many smaller building blocks of ideas/concepts that have their own relevance, with and without relation to that source. So to have these as their own note but dynamically drawn into a bigger structure is really cool. I didnt’ even check how/if DT handles this mark-up.

TBH, most of my testing so far has been along the lines of: ‘if I invest in Obsidian as a note-taking space and it all goes away suddenly, how easy would it be to access this information from DT or another md editor and pick up’. I get that some of the in-app functionality is unique within its own environment (as of course are so many of DT3’s awesome features). My take-away was that I could relatively easily share md files and have a working system in place.

Where I trip myself up (and waste far too much time, to be honest!) is to think about too many ‘what if’ cases, and try to make these apps talk to each other in ways that are not perhaps at all necessary for a fully functioning research set-up. But hey – a little procrastination every now and then…

The block-linking feature in Obsidian – which is entirely optional – is the only case I’m aware of that it is using a non-standard approach that no other editor uses. Otherwise, the files are plain text using markdown syntax so the risk of loss if Obsidian dies and vanishes is almost zero. Same is true for markdown stored in DEVONthink if DEVONthink were to vanish.