Sunday, November 22, 2015

InfoBase 4.5 as a Zettelkasten

I have written about InfoBase or Info-Base here when it was at version 1.8. It is now at version 4.5, and I have looked at it again. This time I took a much closer look, and I found that there is more that recommends it than I thought two years ago. And the reason for this is not only that I am over the dissimilarity to Info Select 1.

Click to enlarge!

What you see is a less busy screen, as I turned off the right and left sidebars (or rather, selected "Auto" in Settings). I like this minimalist look better. What I also like is that Info-Base allows you to internally link to other entries, though "link" is not quite the appropriate term, as the links in Info-Base are really searches.[1] An internal link always starts like this "\\". It is followed by the name of the database (or "stack" in Info Select and Info-Base lingo), plus the name of the note as well as some other terms, if this is not sufficient for identifying the note. So, if you create "\\base\22.11.2015", your note list will filter out all other notes, except those which contain the string "22.11.2015", that is, in this case, the note you are "searching for" or "linking to" and the note that originates this search. (It's important to leave no spaces in these expressions, if you would like the link to be clickable.) Nor does the expression "22.11.2015" have to be in the first line of the note for this to work. If you have more references to this expression, the entire cluster will be shown. The Hyperlink can also be created automically by pressing "Ctrl-H".

While I do prefer wikilinks which kick up just one target, I do see that this approach has some advantages, allowing you to see the immediate context of the note you are looking for.

So, how are expressions like " *22112015" created? The answer is: with the very capable Templates editor you can create templates which do this work for you. You can also create entries with added time of day or numbers. Your imagination is the limit. This should appeal to those who like to sort notes by ID, which also "happens to sort them by date ... or by an ID looks like 201511041548, representing 2015-11-04 3:48 p.m."[2]

On the other hand, Info-Base seems to be almost made for a strict or faithful implementation of Luhmann's Zettelkasten. Expressions like "21/3d26g53", for instance can easily be created and searched for. See Luhmann's Zettelkasten for why you might want to.

Search is instantaneous. Info-Base also allows for tags and has many other well-thought-out affordances. I would not say that it has a steep learning curve, but expect to spend some time to learn its ins and outs. It's a deep application. I don't think you can do any better, if you look for a non-wiki implementation of a Zettelkasten in Windows.[3]

If you want formatting, like italics, etc., you have to look elsewhere. But you could, of course, use Markdown.[4]

1. It also does external links of various sorts, of course.
2. See here, for instance.
3. The help files still do not display in Windows 7 as help files. They can, however, be opened with the Sumatra PDF viewer (and I would suppose with any other PDF viewer as well).
4. I am sorry that I mistakenly referred to Info-Base 4.5 as "3.5".

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