Back links for wiki links between collections?

I’m considering various options for the design of a Notenik-based PKM/PIM “solution,” and am presently kicking the tires of various Notenik features that look like they’d be useful in such a system.

I am excited about the wiki-style linking combined with the auto-backlink feature. It looks like this will work brilliantly.

And I am really excited about being able to use wiki-style linking to connect to notes in different collections. This becomes quite powerful.

But … and no doubt you saw this coming right from the subject line — it does not seem that Notenik supports automatic back-links across collections:

  1. I’ve created a new “Commonplace with Lookups” collection for testing
  2. and have added backlinks to both the root quotation collection and the qauthors lookup collection,
  3. and have added a working wiki-style link within a quotation note, pointing to an author note.

That much works great! And I was very happily surprised that when I chose Generate Backlinks, a “Backlinks” section was added to the display of my test-subject author, Abraham Lincoln, with the name of the quotation note where I’d initially created the wiki link. Yea!

But there doesn’t seem to be any actual plumbing (underlying URL) connecting the textual backlink to the quotation card. Clicking on the backlink title does nothing, and a look at the text file in my text editor shows nothing but the backlink’s title.

Sleuthing a bit more, and I find that the underlying forward link includes the name of the collection:​qauthors/abrahamlincoln

but that the auto-generated backlink does not:

So from the outside, it looks like the hard part of cross-collection auto-generated back-linking has already been done, but that the source collection shortname is being left out.

My question, then, is:Is this the intended behavior, or is it a small bug?

One further observation: I believe that the generally accepted format for an app’s own links is actually of the form notenik://[app-specific info] rather than[app-specific info].

Certainly, when I paste​qauthors/abrahamlincoln into my web browser, it tells me that it “cannot connect to the server.” If I manually replace that with notenik://open?shortcut=qauthors&id=abrahamlincoln, Notenik immediately pops up and shows the correct author.

When you look back at the history of Notenik, it’s clear that this is not a case of there being a grand plan that we are working on, but rather one thing leading to another, and then to another, and so on…

I often think of myself as the Simon Rodia of software development.

So is the behavior you’ve described a bug?

Well, it’s not wrong to describe it in that fashion.

But I tend to think of it as yet another Notenik potentiality that is not yet fully built out.

I’ll put it on the list.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

It’s always fun when my users are trying to make Notenik do something that I had not yet quite gotten around to wanting…

1 Like

@hbowie, “Simon Rodia of software development.” Excellent analogy — I love it! I was not previously aware of Rodia, despite having lived as a youngster in both Long Beach and Oakland and as a young adult in Seattle, all places (according to Wikipedia) that Rodia lived.

But I’m not surprised by the analogy, both because I’ve read your entertaining and helpful news entry from the end of January, “Calendars and Such,” which shows exactly how this process works, and because it’s very much the way I myself work on projects, research, and write.

In my own experience, this approach is both a blessing and a curse.

A curse, because almost by definition no project is ever “done,” and because of course you lose the benefits of being able to build on a foundation that was designed with the ultimate end in mind.

But a blessing, because you always feel free to add features or pursue lines of inquiry that make sense at the time or as inspiration strikes, without being hamstrung by the “outline” or the “list of requirements” or the like.

I’ve always felt the benefits dramatically outweigh the drawbacks.

J.R.R. Tolkien worked in much the same way — and I think that’s why it took him nearly twenty years (1937–54) to write The Lord of the Rings (it’s clear from his drafts and letters that he’d had no idea what the ring was or anything of its history either when he wrote The Hobbit (published, 1937) or when he began work on The Lord of the Rings, and almost every character in LotR other than Gandalf and Bilbo, who had been well-established in The Hobbit, just sort of “appeared” as he was writing, and he had to work out who they were and why they’d just shown up in his manuscript — and it frequently ended up meaning that he had to go back a chapter or two, or even all the way back to the beginning of the novel, and start rewriting…), but also why it’s endured the tests of time and fame, and is now widely (though hardly universally!) regarded as one of the best novels of the twentieth century.

And I’m sure that Notenik will be right there with it, before too long, as one of the best applications of the twenty-first century. :slight_smile:

I look forward to this functionality when it arrives. In the meantime, is any harm done if I manually enter the shortcuts to cross-collection backlinks that Notenik generates? I’m guessing, for example, that such manual entries will be overwritten if I ever “Generate Backlinks”?

1 Like

Yes, the is really only meant for internal links that will only ever need to be interpreted by Notenik. (Also, this convention predated the more general notenik:// custom URL scheme by quite a bit…)

I think I may have fixed this.

Try out the new beta and let me know how it works for you.

That being said, backlinks between Collections are likely to be somewhat fragile, since there is really no way, given the normal rules of Notenik, for one Collection to “know” what other Collections link to it.

1 Like

Interesting to know that about Tolkien. I wasn’t aware of that. But it makes sense.

Looks like it works well.

I do understand that this is slightly brittle, but I intend to keep the collections within the context of the same parent realm, and I expect there will be quite a lot of cross-linking.

I assume that if cross-collection wiki-linking continues working, and that if everything remains in the same relative locations, cross-collection backlinks should be stable enough.

Do you think there’s anything else I need to keep in mind?

No, I think you should be good. Nothing else I can think of.