The importance of backlinks

Seeing the slow pace of Bear development (nothing wrong with that, of course…) I would like to encourage the devs to incorporate the work on note backlinks into their priority roadmap. Backlinks are all the rage right now due to Roam Research, and everybody’s adding them (Obsidian, NotePlan, Craft, and others.) It becomes the feature people use to judge if a tool is hip or not. (And it’s insanely useful, too…)

In other words, not having backlinks right now is very bad for PR in productivity circles.

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We do get why backlinks are useful and we are trying to fit them inside Bear 2.0 at some point… But I disagree with the general concept of “you must have it”. People use notes and document in thousand of different ways and you can find note-taking apps for the most specific contexts. Backlinks are obviously something that belongs to research, GTD/Productivity, and second-brain worlds, and again they are very useful, but not all people necessarily use notes for those purposes.

Some simply want to write long-form, standalone documents, some do project management, some store code snippets but the vast majority are dumping pieces of information (e.g. grocery list, recipes, how to clean the house… ok the last one is possibly just me). In short, think backlinks should not be a “central” feature for every tool, I mean Roam is smartly built around them but there’s a reason the full name is “Roam Research”.

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Personal thoughts on the topic… as soon as an app is built on the premise of [[wiki-links]] and note connectivity, which Bear delivered out the box from the start, it stands to reason the app was built for writers and researchers over the general everyday note-taker. Sure there are those who will never use [[links]] and use Bear largely as a dumping ground of random bits and bobs, but the original and unique selling point that drew me to Bear in the first instance was a replacement for nvALT and the seamless transition between working on iOS and shifting over to the Mac.

[[Links]] are wonderful, keeping track of them not so much. Backlinks, reference links, linked to… whatever you want to call them, are an added and hugely beneficial navigational feature to any note-taking app which sells wiki-styled links as a top-billed feature.

The truth of the matter is, [[wiki-links]] are no longer unique, apps are sprouting up everywhere promising to be the next big and best thing. Now, in an increasingly crowded market, innovation in form and function distinguishes the incredible from the mediocre. Bear has the sparkle to keep above the pack if it continues to deliver what the others don’t — a fast, fluid and seamless space for connected notes on iOS and Mac.

I’ve been using the Zettelkasten long before it became the new cool kid in the note-taking space, so over the years I’ve tried every app out there that promised a better (and easier) way to write, access and organize my notes… I keep coming back to Bear for the simple reason, you guys just keep getting it right.

My future hopes for Bear… I don’t need all the bells and whistles currently out there, I just need modes and methods built into my app of choice that streamlines my process and supports my writing endeavors — and aids my thinking.

Backlinks are a manual process for me currently, taking time away from actual writing. I’d be immensely grateful if you would consider them a feature that would add value, not only to Bear but to us writers who rely so heavily on connected notes.

:teddy_bear::metal:

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Although backlinks would be useful, I agree to the devlopers that it is not a key feature above all that should be prioritised. I would rather want better(custom/manual) tag organisation and or if I reach further, subscript/ superscript/ LaTeX (or Mathjax) support to come first. This might be bells and whistle feature for some or basic necessity for the other.

It is not that backlinks are not useful but it is not a MUST feature that the developers should put priority on. Since Bear was developed by a small group and supported by only users, fast development was impossible in the first place. (Unlike Notion or so who uses electron app and gets heaps of sponsors and fundings)

The focus of an app is not always being hip or on trend or unique. Especially for bear, its strength is Getting Things Right above all like @ShandeN has mentioned. So, my best wish is panda coming to bear already (and multi line support in tables):joy:.

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I never used or cared much about [[Links]] until I dived deep into Roam & then Obsidian. These apps showed the potential and since then I’ve used [[Links]] extensively and manual [[Backlinks]] at the bottom of the bear documents along with hashtags. That has skyrocketed my workflow.
The bear team has shown interest in backlinks and I’ll wait for them to implement in a best possible way. Whatever they do, they do it rock solid so I can see why they want to solidify the new features of panda into bear first.

In terms of usefulness and organisation, the implementation of Toggle is one of the most important features (way more important than WYSIWYG) and not to forget use of standard markdown. Very happy to see these implemented.

But please count this post as a +1 to backlinks.

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I agree. Backlinks are incredibly important for mapping the relationships between things. The human brain is non-linear. This feature would easily persuade me to purchase Bear.

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People like myself are trying to use Bear as a second brain. Why cut off a major audience for such a simple feature? If it doesn’t fit the target audience, then at least make it optional.

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I think there are advantages and drawbacks to any note taking philosophy. I find backlinks in general useful, but I am happy to make them myself, which is easy to do in bear. The hiearchy of knowledge imposed by automated back links sounds sexy in theory; in practices has little relevance. For example, how often do you EVER use backlinks on wikipedia? Versus just searching for the thing you want, Or clicking on a link to go to a new page? Bear allows for this very easily. Also, the swiftness of bear is fantastic; anything that adds clunkiness would change the most fundamental (understated) feature that makes bear a great app.

Anyway, there are lots of features that would be pluses, but given the need to set narrow priorities for the bear updates, for me this isn’t one of them. Tbh, in-note search is the only thing I really want added as a new feature; anything else is just a bonus.

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Is it, though? Every solution I found required scripting, maintenance, and wasn’t compatible between MacOS and iOS. If you have that kind of free time, good on you.

It has little relevance to you. If it were useless, Roam Research wouldn’t have become so popular, and neither would Obsidian. Your point about Wikipedia is moot as it’s a completely different context. You go to Wikipedia to learn about a specific thing. In your personal life, everything is interconnected, and seeing these interconnections is insanely useful.

I’ve been using NotePlan for a while, and now I’m using Craft. Both have backlinks, and I’m using them extensively. Knowing in which contexts I was thinking about the note I’m currently in is super useful. E.g., I’m managing a work project, and I’m having several conversations related to that project. I have separate notes from each conversation, linking to the page on that project. When I actually work on the project, I can pull up all contexts where it was brought up with one click.

That I agree with. I can assure you that the other apps I’ve mentioned are just as snappy despite having backlinks and other functionalities Bear lacks.

Well, yeah, the lack of in-note search is an embarrassment, and the main reason I mostly moved to other apps.

In my opinion, knowledge becomes linked when we actually make those connections. Bear makes it easy to do it manually, and the act of doing so reinforces the link. This is akin to the “right” way to use anki is to make the cards yourself.

But honestly I don’t think my way is the one right way. Back links are useful and I’m glad they help you. As a paying user of bear and enthusiast for the platform, i piped to give my feedback for priorities, since back links are not a priority for me in the app. It seems that you have found other apps that support your note style. I don’t think bear is beholden to competing head-to-head with those platforms. I’ve tried them too and strongly prefer bear. I abandoned evernote because of it’s bloat, and cannot emphasize enough that in spite of the few shortcomings of bear and my list of feature requests, i prefer bear in its current form over other bloated apps.

Craft was aesthetically nice but in reality not what I’m looking for in a note app.

If bear had a) search, b) embedded videos, c) a few extra highlight colors, d) automatic ToC for notes, and e) tables, it would literally be complete as far as I’m concerned, but I happily can live without those features for now.

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