Bi-Directional Links (Back Links)

Hi there,

First off. I love Bear 2. The app is amazing and super easy to use which is why I keep coming back. However, I come from the world of Roam and LogSeq and I LOVE their daily note-taking and bi-directional linking approach. I have used both of these apps for years now. First Roam, then LogSeq. The problem with these apps is that they are slow and tedious to use and NOT mobile-friendly at all. So, I’m back at Bear2…

Would it be possible (and hopefully this is already on your roadmap) to add to Bear 2 in order of priority:

  1. Bi-directional linking (and automatically creating a new page a la Roam). This is not the same as wiki-links. Wiki-links are cute, but it’s not the same as bi-directional linking.
  2. Collaboration
  3. Workspaces
  4. Smart folders

Items 2, 3, and 4 are not even that important. The bi-directional linking feature is the killer app for note-taking. Please improve wiki-links to what Roam and LogSeq allow you to do.

Thank you so much!
Haye Kesteloo

Hello there,

thank you for your kind words! Let me answer to some of your requests:

What are you missing for bi-directional linking? We call them wiki-links, but in practice, they are bi-directional links and we have good support for them. As for the automatic creation of new pages we don’t like the clutter that it creates, but you can still click on a link and a new page will be created for you :slight_smile:

This is on our list, but it’s very complex and requires a good amount of work.

Same as collaboration :smiley:

We’re thinking about saved searches, which are basically Smart folders, so again already on the list!


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Thank you for your quick response!

I’ll try to explain better. LogSeq/Roam allow you to do daily journaling. Every day you start with a new dated note. As you go about your day and take notes, you can create new pages through wiki-links. So for instance, I tried out Bear, and over time I would write down things about the app. Every time I write about it I would use the brackets [[Bear]]. Now if you click on the [[Bear]] wiki-link it would take you to the Bear page and it would summarize all the instances you mentioned Bear. This is nice when you do daily journaling as it provides you with a very useful overview. Bear 2 with wiki-links comes close but it doesn’t create a summary overview such as LogSeq/Roam do. Over the years of using LogSeq/Roam I have found this a super useful feature. Hope this helps. I will attach a screenshot as an example.

The screenshot shows you LogSeq wiki page with:

  • Page title
  • Writing area
  • Summary of all the linked reference
  • Summary of all the unlined (no wiki-link) references

Bear works so much better than both LogSeq and Roam (especially on mobile), that I think if you were to add this feature to Bear 2, many of their customers would come your way.

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It seems to me that you are not aware that bear already has implemented backlinks functionality. It is hidden in the information panel that can be teared off to stay persistent. You can open this panel from icon above the editor.

Note that it is planned to implement an fourth column inside the main ui so that you can have your backlinks always in sight. My impression is: while some users here would like to have the backlinks inline, the most user prefer the current and planned solution because you do not have to scroll the note down to see your backlinks

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I’m aware of the information panel and the fact that you can tear it off. It just doesn’t quite work the same way. When you click an item in the panel it makes you jump around in between notes instead of being able to change in the note right away. Less easy to use, IMO. Could be a personal preference. Maybe the fourth column idea will address this… If you were to try LogSeq and Roam you’d see how this works.

In addition to being able to edit text directly from the backlinks view (:point_up_2:) there is one feature I have been missing greatly - and that I think would reasonably easy to implement: Link previews!


Considering how snappy Bear is, being able to preview notes on hover - and why not - do a few edits, would be brilliant and something that I think everyone would use extensively :slight_smile:

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+1 !
Previews on hover is something I want so badly. :pray:

I believe that hovering preview is much less convenient than it appears in first sight. At least from my experience: The main reason is delay between pointing a cursor and hovering preview. Technically, there must be some delay, as you do not want to see a preview always and immediately, when just moving a cursor through your link wanting to move somewhere else. So that is why there is always like 200ms or 500ms delay. Which is bothering when you need to view it quickly. (you can see it both in Obsidian, Logseq, Craft).

Of course, you can quicken the preview by e.g. pressing shift or similar shortcut. But at this moment you can do absolutely the same in Bear - you can just cmd+click on any link and you can see not only space-limited preview, but whole page (in new window) and without any delay! cmd+W, you close it (you see - you still have your thumb on cmd key from clicking on the link, so it works like a charm). I do not see much disadvantage (as for speed or convenience) compared to real hover previews.

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@kesteloo The main difference is that Bear links are mainly page-based (not block-based, although technically you can also link to headings). That is why editing (or having preview of the block) inline in Roam/Logseq is logical and technically/visually feasible. But how would you do it with page references? You cannot preview whole page/note inside another page/note (or it would be cumbersome and visually confusing). Notes can be quite long.

The best solution is just to open backlink in new page (which you can do now - by cmd+click on backlink) and you can edit the note there. cmd+W, you close the page and you are back on your original note. Easy.

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A few counterpoints -

  • I have been an active member of both Craft Slack group and Obsidian forums for the past few years, and I can’t recall any instance of people complaining about the presence of hover previews. Not the feature itself, nor any issue related to window pop-up delays. My experience of course!
  • Yes, you can hold CMD and click on a note to preview it, and then, close it once you’ve looked into it (ex. To remember what that term was about) - but it’s clunkier (2 clicks vs none). In general, opening a new window is something that suits editing, but not quick consultation.
  • Lastly, even Wikipedia has implemented a sort of hover previews - despite Wikipedia pages not being exactly known for being… Short :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks your your response. I did not mean that people were complaining about hovering previews or that they are bad idea per se, just that they are not as useful as it appears in various visual previews and screenshots… (due to these factors - viewport and delay).

I would certainly not be against their implementation in Bear, not at all. I just wanted to say that the practical utility/value of them is not so great/incremental, especially when you can do almost the same in current version of Bear (ok, two clicks versus one - this is quite first world problem, isn’t it?).

That is why I would vote for focusing on much more important features now (e.g. sidebar view of backlinks) etc.

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OOOH. Oh my gosh I didn’t know about this feature. I could have sworn I heard about something similar before, couldn’t find the key commands for it, and couldn’t find it anywhere on list of features. I think I just didn’t know exactly what I was looking for. It exists! I’m going to start using this now. Thank you.

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Agree that the sidebar view for backlinks should get higher priority :slight_smile: also, I must say that I didn’t know about the CMD+click / CMD+w shortcut until you mentioned it - clunky or not - so thank you for bringing it up!