Skip to content

My knowledge management system

My knowledge management system


Command / action Description
note 'My new note' Create the file “My new” from the shell, with automatic frontmatter
<leader>-w-f Search all notes with Ripgrep
<C-x><C-o> Autocomplete note filename (incremental)


My knowledge management system is built for maximum personal utility. It’s subject to change as needs arise. It’s not pure Zettelkasten[1], Evergreen[2], or any other system. Anything works as long as it helps me to accumulate, organize, and relate thoughts, ideas, and knowledge.

My system should be low-commitment and rather minimal. I’ll only add a feature when it seems necessary.

A pragmatic system

These are my needs and how I fill them:


Automatic frontmatter injection when a new note is initiated 🔗

In .vimrc, create LoadFrontmatter function that injects frontmatter into the current file.

" Load new notes with frontmatter
func! LoadFrontmatter()
  " build frontmatter
  let $Frontmatter = "---\ntitle: " . expand('%:t:r')  . "\ndate: " . strftime("%Y-%m-%d") . "\n keywords: \nreferences: \n---\n"

  " echo frontmatter into file
  0r !echo $Frontmatter

Then, silently call the LoadFrontmatter function automatically when a new markdown buffer is created in the vimwiki home directory. This autocmd should exist immediately after the LoadFrontmatter function declaration in .vimrc.

autocmd BufNewFile ~/vimwiki/*.md silent! call LoadFrontmatter()

In shell profile, register a note function to enable opening Vim and immediately initiating a vimwiki file (the first argument is the note title).

note () {
  vim -c "e ~/vimwiki/$"

Now, anytime a new markdown file is created in the vimwiki home directory, the file basename will be automatically injected as the title, the current date will be injected as the date, and empty keywords and references declarations will be added. The frontmatter is YAML.

Vim command for searching notes 🔗

In .vimrc, create WikiRg function for searching notes with FZF and Ripgrep.

command! -bang -nargs=* WikiRg call fzf#vim#grep('rg 
      \ --column --line-number --no-heading --color=never 
      \ --smart-case --type md <q-args> "/Users/<user>/vimwiki"',
      \ 1, fzf#vim#with_preview(), <bang>0)
autocmd FileType vimwiki nnoremap <buffer> <leader>wf :WikiRg<Space>

This provides a quickfix list with all search matches, providing a small context window for the currently active match.

Export and deploy notes to the web 🔗

I use self-made tools ↗ for this. To see how it can be done, check out the nonplain.js 11ty-markdown-notes example ↗.


Creating a new note

The newly created note will look like this:

title: Title of new note
date: 2020-08-09

Writing a new note

  1. Use one of the commands above to begin a new note. The title will be generated from the string argument given and added to the frontmatter of the new note.
  2. Optionally, enter a comma-delimited list of a few keywords to describe the current note and maintain a bullet-list of external references.
  3. Write the body of the note below the frontmatter section using markdown.
  4. When finished, save and quit (:wq)
title: Title of new note
date: 2020-08-09
keywords: note, new, mine
- Stoneman, R. (2008). Alexander the Great: A life in legend. Yale University Press.

My note body