So… it’s been a while. In the past, I usually aimed for about two to three articles per month. Lately, I was not able to maintain this schedule due to several reasons. Most importantly, I try to focus on my PhD. Then, there was a (much needed) vacation and just a lot going on. And I am not sure that the slower cadence will change any time soon. Sorry!
But enough of the excuses, back to the content: Notebooks 12 (or Notebooks 3 on the Mac) has been released. Notebooks is an app that is comparable to DevonThink or KeepIt. Sort of a digital notebook and document repository in one. I really enjoyed using the app for a while when I took my break from DevonThink. I especially like that the app is easy to understand and yet quite powerful. So if you’re looking for an app like this and don’t really need DevonThink right away, you’re in very good hands here. In addition, the developer is really very nice. I wrote him several times about questions and feature requests and always got very kind answers.
In version 12/3 the most important improvement is now the completely revised link management and the introduction of backlinks. Backlinks have gained immense popularity since Roam Research, Obsidian, and many other knowledge management apps introduced them. The idea here is that in a note, you can also see which other notes link to it. Now Notebooks has that too, which is of course welcome.
New technologies for better link handling
But what I find even more interesting is Smart Link Resolution (SLR) and Automatic Link Management (ALM). Links are a fine thing, but they are also very fragile. For example, if you rename linked resources, they usually can’t be found anymore. The same is true if you move them. ALM tries to fix exactly that and uses the newly introduced backlinks for that. Link targets can be found again and links can be adjusted. SLR, on the other hand, actively searches for possibly matching link targets for links if they (supposedly) do not exist. This is useful in two use cases: Firstly, if you have an error in the link and secondly, you can also specify only a keyword in this way and SLR will then find the correct link target automatically.
All in all, this sounds very promising. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to test the new version and ALM or SLR myself. But my experiences with Notebooks leave me optimistic. Notebooks addresses an important issue here. Developers need to work on more robust technologies for links. The backlink revolution we are currently experiencing in the PKM space is worth nothing if you are faced with a bunch of broken links after a few years. For that reason alone, Notebooks’ approach is very commendable.
An overview with all new features can be found here: release notes.
Did/do you use NB for your PhD work? I have been a long time user of NBs and am working on my PhD.