I think it’s time Discourse had a faster way to create links to other topics on a given forum. Obviously there is the existing link button and shortcut in the composer, and if you’re really brilliant and happen to know the exact URL of a topic you can even do it without using the link dialog. But there are other apps showing that there can be a better, faster, easier way: invoking a search-and-link dialog in-line.
There is already precedent for this in Discourse with the @ link/search behavior for profiles, as well as # link/search behavior for hashtags. So I’m simply suggesting that search-and-link for topics be added. This would take a very minimal approach, quite like the @ user search, with a quick pop-up in-line topic search based on text you type in the composer, and would not have any fields for Title or any other controls. It would work exactly like @ search except for links. You would use the keyboard to confirm the link, and the first option would be auto-highlighted.
One recently popularized syntax for this is “bracket links”, i.e. [[link-to-topic]]. You type [[ and a search of topic titles is invoked, just like the user or hashtag searches. Another common approach is a / slash menu, though this is usually used for multiple functions. However it is invoked, it would make it super fast and easy to create links between topics, which I personally view as a good thing as it encourages people to reference other existing and related content.
The main issue I see with this particular syntax is it’s different than the currently supported wiki syntax, but also similar. However wiki link syntax is actually used in systems that also support double bracket [[ ]] syntax, but specifically for links that need custom text. So one option would be to use that same distinction, double brackets for a link to a topic that uses the topic title as the link text, or a traditional wiki link for a custom title. Another would be to change link syntax overall, which I doubt is appealing. A 3rd option would be to pick some other in-line link syntax, i.e. a different set of characters that invoke the link search.
I don’t really care exactly how it’s implemented, I just want to be able to search-and-link in-line! I think it would be a great addition to Discourse’s already excellent composer and general convenience features.
That said, I realize the existing Composer functions are quite good and this is only a convenience feature, arguably for a certain subset of users. It’s definitely a low priority even if there is agreement it would be useful.