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    LAB NOTES
    LAB NOTES
    EXPERIMENT 001
    09•12•2021

    Cross-reference Navigation in Obsidian

    In LN 015, we explored the concept of cross-reference navigation: a way to browse your things by the common connections found among the items stored in your personal computing graph.

    I’ve assembled an early demo of this concept that you can use as a plugin for Obsidian.

    It works on the notes in an Obsidian vault, using tags as the method of organization. It surfaces commonly cross-referenced tags as you browse through your things, and it makes great use of nested tags (e.g. #status/inprogress).

    Here’s how it works:

    Plugin demo

    Watch this demo of the plugin, which lets you navigate your notes in Obsidian by your most common tags and cross-references (YouTube)


    With the tag structure I use in my personal notes vault, this plugin effectively gives me a handful of useful interfaces. Some examples:

    • “In Progress” shows me my current workspace: all of the things I’m learning and working on right now.
    • “Up Next” is filled with new and interesting things to explore.
    • “Done” is a nicely organized archive.
    • “Reading” brings up things I’ve read, things I’m in the middle of, and what I’d like to read next.
    • “Writing” brings up the things I’ve written recently, am currently writing, and might work on next.

    And of course, I can dive deeper from there: I might pull up just the things I’m reading in the topic of music, or specifically the things I’m currently writing on personal computing, or the things I’d like to read next by Doug Engelbart.


    If you want to try out this plugin, be aware: It is early, so I’d recommend using it with a sample vault, such as the one I’ve published. It may be slow in vaults with many notes and tags, and there will be bugs!

    Here’s how to try it out:

    1. If you don’t have it yet, download and install Obsidian.
    2. Download the plugin (v0.2.0), and unzip it.
    3. Move the unzipped directory into your vault’s .obsidian/plugins directory.
    4. In Obsidian’s settings window, open “Community plugins,” hit the refresh button on “Installed plugins,” and enable “Cross-reference Navigation.”
    5. Open the command palette (press CMD + P), and search for the command “Cross-reference Navigation: Open Cross-references View”. Press enter when it’s highlighted.

    If you want to use it with a sample vault, I’ve published the one from the demo video, and it already has the plugin installed.

    1. If you don’t have it yet, download and install Obsidian.
    2. Download the sample vault, and unzip it.
    3. Open Obsidian, click the vault icon in the bottom left of Obsidian’s window (“Open another vault”), then select the unzipped sample vault directory.
    4. Click “Turn off safe mode” if asked, and close the settings window if it’s open.
    5. Open the command palette (press CMD + P), and search for the command “Cross-reference Navigation: Open Cross-references View”. Press enter when it’s highlighted.

    I’ve published the full source on GitHub.

    Something spark a thought? Send me an email or come chat on Twitter.


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