How to Build an App Like Obsidian: A Productivity App Development Guide

Updated on May 3rd, 2023

How to Build an App Like Obsidian A Productivity App Development Guide

“I don’t give app of the year awards, but I would 100% give it to Obsidian for slowly taking over almost everything I do that has anything to do with text files.” — CGP Grey 

Obsidian, powerful notetaking and knowledge base software has recently been launched for Android and iOS mobile phone users, and the news has created an uproar in the industry. Ever so favorite among sophisticated thinkers, the software has been burgeoning its user base since its inception in 2015. With the mobile app release and an incredible range of features, it’s all set to create new records in the industry. If you have a similar idea that can benefit even more people, then the time is ripe for you to invest in its development. Users are already normalizing mind-mapping through such apps; a new app with even more exciting features will be readily acceptable to them. But before we begin with the guide to development, let’s briefly understand… 

How Does Obsidian, the Note-Taking App Work? 

ObsidianImage Source 

A state-of-the-art note-taking and knowledge base management app, Obsidian has been stealing the limelight everywhere. From programmers to writers, its simple and intuitive features are making lives easy all around. But how does an app barely months old has managed to achieve such success rates among users? 

Well, though the app is only a few months old, the platform it reflects has been around for more than half a decade. The eponymous software has made it easy for its users to create linked notes, derive a visual graph out of it, and then eventually create a mindmap out of it. 

Both the app and the software use markup language to make the task easiest for its users. Users hardly ever need to sway away from the editing window and keyboard to make any formatting or layout changes to their text. With simple markup symbols like square brackets, hashtags, dashes, and even numerals, they can create links, headings, lists, etc.  

To begin using the app, users need to create a vault. A vault in the Obsidian ecosystem is nothing but a folder where to contain all the notes. After creating a vault/folder in a local directory, users can start creating notes saved in the local directory again with .md extension. These notes can easily be opened and changed in simple text editors. This makes it easy for the user to rely on the app without worrying about its future accessibility. 

The files thus created can also be linked with one another to create a visual graph of the mind map of users’ thoughts. To simplify the categorization in the same vault, they can also use hashtags. With these simple but powerful features, the app empowers users with a second brain, where they can create and connect their various thoughts to create a comprehensive idea on a digital system. 

How To Build A Note Taking App Like Obsidian? 

Now since we know how with a few simple but rather powerful features, Obsidian is winning hearts and brains everywhere around. Let’s see what we can do to create a similar note-taking app. 

Steps to Build a Note Taking App Like Obsidian
1. Understand the End-Goal

An app like Obsidian should not be taken lightly. It’s an entire ecosystem with various dependabilities. This is why when you’re investing in developing an Obsidian-like app, you need to have a proper understanding of all problems you’re trying to solve with the app. Without a set of problems that your app should be designed to solve, it can fail on the purpose. This will eventually lead to less user interaction and a bottleneck in user-base growth. You will keep thinking of new features to make your app more appealing, missing out entirely on what can make it indispensable. 

2. Choose Your Platform 

A note-taking app like Obsidian can turn out to be a significant investment. This is why it’s crucial that you understand your audience and their needs and interests beforehand. Creating such an app for devices that have way too small screens or limited functionalities to make the app workable will be a total waste. Moreover, creating an interface that allows the maximal screen to showcase all features yet under-utilize it, isn’t a smart move either. This is why it’s essential to consider all the features you want to deploy on respective devices. This will help you decide which devices and platforms you should target for the primary app deployment. 

3. Major Features of Obsidian to Clone 

Obsidian is one of the most remarkably feature-rich note-taking apps. With its markup text files, it allows one to focus on the content, and at the same time, the portability of vaults and the note md files make your content and ideas free from the platform’s infrastructure. So that you can go back to your content even if the app no longer exists for whatever reason. Other splendid features that you can clone from Obsidian are-



Unlike other knowledge base apps, all the content one creates on Obsidian resides on the local memory of their device. That means, even in case of server failures, the user will have nothing to worry about since all their data will simply be residing on their phone. For this to work, your app will need access to the user’s device memory. As an alternative, you can ask the user whether they want to avail a dedicated cloud space for the purpose instead. 

Plain text files

Plain text files

When one creates a note file in the Obsidian app, it gets saved as a .md file in the memory. These files can easily be opened in text editors like notepad. This means even in case, for some reason, Obsidian stops working in the future, one will have no trouble finding and accessing their content, sitting right there on the device, through the simplest text editors. You can offer a similar simplified solution to your users for a more reliable experience. 

Markup Text

Markup Text

Obsidian uses markup language, making it easy for writers to focus solely on the content and its layout and not worry about the formatting. Doing so with your app will free your users from vendors’ format lockdown and consequently avoid all the bloaters. The simple to-do list in your app should occupy only as much space as a regular text file with a list of strings would. Besides, markup language will also make it easy for your users to publish on the web directly. 



With Obsidian, transclusion is made interesting and simple. With mere square brackets, you can turn any text into a hyperlink. What more? You can even link non-existent pages with such an approach and only create the new linked note after clicking on the linked text. Availing of a similar option with your app will allow your users to focus on content and then worry about linking later. 



With such a simple approach to transclusions, your app can quickly turn into a fantastic mindmap app for your users. They can link all their varied thoughts and notes with one another and then access them as and when they want. They can create the most complex storylines and plans and then have them ready to be knitted into one file for proper presentation. 

Graph View

Graph View

Obsidian offers something called Graph view to its users. This view creates a scatter plot of all the differences noted with a line linking them to one another wherever they are linked. This graph view allows the users to see where the thoughts are most accumulated and where they are scarcely linked. This can help them get an overview in a visual format, which can further aid them in developing more ideas around the existing ones. 

Pull Down Actions

Pull Down Actions

Unlike the PC software version, the app doesn’t have much screen space to avail of all its rich features. This problem is solved through the pull-down quick actions tab. So whenever a user needs to use a quick action, they only need to swipe down a little. With a lightning-fast transition, they will have all those options just a click away. The rest of the time, you will have an entire screen to yourself to type down your ideas effortlessly. 



Traversing through the app has further been simplified with the use of hashtags. Since the app uses markup language, it’s important to note that when you’re trying to use the hashtag feature of the app, you don’t put a space between the text and the hash symbol. Including this incredible feature in your app will let users enjoy the entire text interface with additional quick links, and later it will make content searching easier too. 

Multi Panel Interface

Multi Panel Interface

Like Obsidian, you can offer your users a multi-panel feature when they’re in reading mode. The feature will allow them to see more than one note at a time. It will also simplify for them to check out all the different hashtags and backlinks the document has to easily go back to the parent note without performing the entire search party. These features can be made to be resized to improve the user experience further. 

Audio Recorder

Audio Recorder

With a dedicated audio recorder and speech-to-text offering like Obsidian, you can multiply the usability of your knowledge base app exponentially. Natural Language Processing algorithms have become ubiquitous now, so you can easily add this feature to your app with pre-designed libraries. This will equip your users to enjoy the mobile interface with greater ease further. 

Publish to Web

Publish to Web

Now, this is a paid feature of the app and thus can affect your business strategy and cost of development to varying degrees. Publishing directly to the web can offer its own range of services that can actually be monetized. Furthermore, the complexity of the operation can make your app bulky unless you use processing cloud nodes. While incorporating this feature, be mindful of the demand and ROI. Since most people still trust the personal computer for publishing jobs, you can keep this feature for the latest agile iterations instead.

Looking for a Team to Develop a Feature-Rich Note-Taking App?

4. Analyze Other Competitors

Now developing a clone of Obsidian is quite a fruitful idea. However, offering just everything that Obsidian is, isn’t. You need to explore other similar apps to see what other things you can offer to make your app more valuable. For this purpose, you can analyze other competitors among note-taking and knowledge base apps. Apps and software like MediaWiki, Slite, Joplin, etc., offer a variety of features that you can learn from and embed in your own app. 

5. Select a Suitable Monetization Model 

For an app as featureful as Obsidian, you will not have a hard time asking people for premium services like direct web publishing. However, the trick here will lie in market penetration and distinguishing the app from the widely popular competitors. This is why relying on just one monetization feature is not enough, and you’ll have to play different cards to reach the excellent ROI for the app. 



While no one likes advertisements, they still remain the most effective app monetization method. As per Statista, around 89% of mobile app owners rely solely on video ads to monetize their apps. To make the app more native and less intrusive, you can choose to display only those third-party ads that are actually useful for your app users. This you can do by properly analyzing behavioral analytics on the app.


Subscription Models

Obsidian doesn’t only incur publishing charges as per the count of websites. Instead, users can choose to pay a subscription amount of USD 192 per year to publish as many websites as they want. You can also ask the registered users to pay a membership fee for your app's premium features. To make the model more tempting, you can offer some member-exclusive features as well.


Premium Features

While most of the services and features Obsidian offers are free of any charges, it does charge for publishing the content on the web. At the time of writing this post, it charged USD 20 per website. This, considering the simplicity of the entire process, is quite a feasible option. You can also pick a specific high-end feature or a bulk of them and offer those under premium charges.

6. Look for a Reputed Productivity App Development Company 

Obsidian is one of the most robust knowledge base and note-taking apps in the market at present. The simplicity of Markdown files and the ingenuity of the graph visuals genuinely make it an independent second brain for users.  Now, it’s understandable that developing such a huge app is not going to be easy. You’ll definitely need a whole team to manage all the various aspects of the app. Hiring a team can further be simplified when you hire a company for its complete solutions instead. Then from planning to deployment, you can delegate the entire development process to your reliable tech partner and then shift your focus on the business aspect of the app instead.  

7. App Optimization and Marketing

Once the app is developed, it’s time for you to continually optimize it as per the users’ needs. To make this process more streamlined, you can focus on developing the app through Agile methodology. This will allow you to launch the app in its MVP stage itself and start growing your user base even when the app is still under the development process. Once launched on app marketplaces, you should start marketing and branding the app to create excitement around its upcoming features. For this, you can also hire an app optimization and marketing company that can take care of all the related aspects.  

How Much Does It Cost to Build an Obsidian Like Notes App? 

Investing in a nifty app like Obsidian is a great idea, considering how many people are actively seeking growth with such productivity apps. However, calculating the development cost of such a complex app is not easy. The cost will depend on multifarious factors, including tech stack and custom features. To get a fair estimate of your Obsidian clone app, you can consider the following factors- 


By itself, an Obsidian clone knowledge management base app has a multitude of features. This means the app will require a substantial amount of time and resources before it can be deployed. However, the number of features and their complexity can be increased or decreased as per your preference; and this would reflect in its overall development cost.


The technologies used to develop a note-taking app like Obsidian will include Microsoft Azure DNS, Person Schema, and Gravatar Profiles. Other tech stacks largely depend on a number of factors. For starters, the operating system of the mobile app and the number of native functionalities required. For example, generally, iOS mobile apps cost more to develop than Android. ones

User Experience

To make your app thrive in the competitive market, you will have to invest in best-in-class user interfaces. The app with so many features can easily become complex for new users. And since your app will be new in the market and would not want to lose any potential users, you will have to invest considerably in the user experience to make your app stand out.


The location of the app development also plays a crucial role in deciding its overall cost. In general, established companies from Silicon Valley and other wealthier parts of the globe will charge you much more than, say, a mobile app development company from an emerging nation.

Want to Develop an Obsidian Clone App?

Obsidian Clone with Matellio’s Productivity App Development Solutions 

With such powerful features on it, the development of an Obsidian clone app can only be trusted to a reliable and experienced Productivity app development company. Now, Matellio, with its decades of experience, can prove to be your ideal partner. Our team is well acquainted with ways to reimagine the most complex of features. They know what it takes to create an experience for mobile users that they cannot resist. With this skill set, we have been helping businesses across the globe by solving their most complex problems. 

Our core approach to solving any business problem with a software or app solution is quite quality-centric. We understand that scalability must be among the core features of any development project. Hence, we have refined the agile processes that allow us to not just make the project infinitely scalable but also to deploy it much sooner. 

Moreover, since we develop productivity apps from scratch, it’s always easy for us to customize them as much as you would want. So, when you hire our team to develop a feature-full app like Obsidian, know for sure that everything will be as per your best expectations from the development process to the seamlessness of the user experience. Still unsure? Fill this form now to get a free consultation from our experts and get the ball rolling.

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