obsidian notes vs roam

Tend to your notes like a gardener; at the end of the day, sit back and marvel at your own knowledge graph. In Rom, this could be as simple as creating a persistent page (like the existing TODO page, for example) called “Random.” Whenever visited, the Random page would display a single random block or collection of random blocks. 3. They have also delivered every time on promises made for Obsidian’s future and even on parts previously thought not possible (e.g. Obsidian is a powerhouse note-taking and knowledge work application at a ridiculous price point (free). Any note in your collection can be connected to any other (or to many others). Obsidian:Amazing product, free, local support, markdown based and therefore portable data, privacy-focused. Obsidian works with separate markdown document files sitting on your own hard drive. In Obsidian, this is not the case right now, though WYSIWYG is on the roadmap and coming soon. Roam Is a Note-Taking Tool, and a Dream of a Better Self. I’m a writer, author, and media producer, so as I discover applications and process of special interest along these lines, I’ll share what I learn. In meetings, I’m more focused. These things really didn’t bother me over the short term for several reasons: But over time, these issues did begin to wear on me. If you like, this pane can be split horizontally … or vertically … or both … multiple times. Now you can link to individual paragraphs, without having to create a heading just for the explicit need of creating a linkable portion of a page. Ren gives a great introduction for students, in the context of a comparison of features with Roam. The page will also still appear in your graph view and search, even when not clicked yet. Unlike Roam, tags and page links are handled separately, meaning they both serve unique functions. It operates by association.” Before starting my quest, I set some boundaries. The same query in Obsidian could look like this: Other than the easier to use syntax, I also find Boolean search more powerful than queries since you are not limited to searching for previously defined links. The process was (to put it mildly) extremely painful. I will be the first to admit I was never too concerned with data privacy when working with Roam — at least when I first started using the application. A wider center pane displays the note currently in use; by default, this appears as a page of bulleted black text on a white screen. From this outline, you can click on any of the headers and automatically be taken to that section of the page. These CSS “hacks” and many others are readily available on the Obsidian forum for viewing and use: You can also easily modify the CSS of the base theme or any community theme yourself to get Obsidian to look how you want. Roam Research is unapologetically a web-first app. Early this year, Conor White-Sullivan introduced me to the Zettelkasten method of note-taking. In any case, after a few weeks, I stumbled upon Obsidian. The application is web-only (outside of local storage in browser cache for 5-year subscribers) and has a minimalist appearance. The design and layout seems to have some influence from their previous experience. Block references allow you to embed content from one page into another, but at the atomic level of a single block (or in the case of Obsidian, at the level of a single paragraph). But Obsidian also allows you to open multiple notes, plus you can move them around and lay them out however you prefer (see the screenshot above) Obsidian's graph view is a lot nicer to use as well I think no one would argue that the Obsidian graph view is far superior to Roam’s graphing at this point in time. (Since I tend to travel with an iPad exclusively, this is a problem for me.). On the right, a search field, a filtering control, a collapsed list of features (including sharing and exporting), and a help menu are always visible. The short of it is this: the longer you stay inside a proprietary note-taking application, the harder it is going to be to leave with all your data intact. Roam is pretty rough and even despite CSS - ugly. In conversations, I’m sharper. “The human mind does not work that way. Knowing nothing about CSS, using this trick allowed me to edit my personal favorite community theme (Warmth, dark mode) into exactly what I wanted. More concerning, however, is what happens on re-importing your dataset, for instance in the case of data loss. Tutorials more than a few months old remain useful, but will not cover the latest features. My ~/org directory has everything. The navigation and linking experience is frictionless. Page titles, however, are rendered in a tiny, fine text that can be difficult to read, especially in dark mode. Its Introduction to Roam and Getting Started links provide most, if not all, of what a beginner wants to know. Once the API goes public, community generated plug-ins are likely to rapidly expand the offerings of Obsidian functionality. Believers pick up some additional perks and effectively pay $8.33 per month. I’m now around 2–3 months into using Obsidian and over that time, it has slowly become my daily driver for note-taking, knowledge management and writing. Your hard-earned knowledge and writing is future-proofed. These led me to Obsidian.md. Users familiar with outlining apps will appreciate that blocks can be dragged and dropped with ease. This includes functions like task management, CRM work and linked journaling. This makes filtering tasks (particularly filtering out, since you would exclude the entire page) significantly less effective in Obsidian. However, the developers have done an amazing job allowing expanded visualization of text around the backlink to provide additional context. Very easy to use and link notes. For me, though, the fact Roam opens to my daily page — versus forcing me to click a link to create one — reduces friction and makes the daily page habit more addictive.). A narrow left-hand navigation pane offers a means of switching from database to database and provides access to daily notes, the interactive graph of links, a list of all pages, and a list of shortcuts to favorite pages. block references). Queries are nice, but have strengths and weakness. However, you can always host your notes on any cloud service of your choice and not utilize Obsidian’s own service. That alone was worth any other issues with the application (even the potential risk of data loss and lack of local storage). Roam is an outliner with a central database. That said: be aware that Roam does offer a scholarship program, providing discounts or free service to full-time researchers, people under twenty-two, or those “experiencing significant financial distress.”. In Obsidian, you can search your graph to narrow down the view to specific pages or tags, view orphan nodes or adjust the link distance between pages displayed, among many other features. As powerful as a graph database. Once, I used to write entire books in Word. We get asked about the best roam alternative (roam research alternative), but that's a hard question to answer because people use it for different reasons. Edits in embedded blocks populate back to all instances where the block is embedded. Unlike Word, Ulysses allows me to break down a long document into a series of short sheets. I can also access or edit my files using any text editor on my computer or iPhone, with changes automatically synced by my cloud storage. Finally, I’d like to be able to share individual pages (or a collection of pages) from a knowledge graph with the public (and perhaps even invite participation in creating and updating those pages) without having to share the entire graph. This will be a long read, but hopefully a helpful one for folks trying to decide between these two applications. This is what a simple query in Roam looks like: {{[[query]]: {or: [[learning]] [[mindset]]}}}. If you would like to compare other apps, try our app comparison tool. Passionate users of both applications provide free resources (and a number of paid courses) designed to jumpstart new users. That was the extent of the use I made of the graph feature. Even then, it would not be exactly the same. Here is a screenshot of the application settings, where you can modify any keyboard shortcut you want: As examples, here are some of the shortcuts I use frequently: By learning and understanding shortcuts within Obsidian, I have been able to achieve a workflow that is both smooth and seamless. At first, I was disappointed. I’m writing more. As a result, my journaling practice — ragged at best, when I was using Day One — has become thoroughly integrated with my daily routine. Yes. Roam allows focus at the block level; Obsidian allows focus at the page level. By essentially “querying” your graph, you can much more easily visualize specific topics or trains of thought and see how you might create links between previously unconnected nodes. Obsidian and Roam may share some features, but they are fundamentally different. Once I started looking for information on Roam, I found many videos comparing Roam to other options. Obsidian also has all it’s files synced locally. It is possible that Roam might someday suffer a catastrophic data loss or be acquired by a user-hostile company? Obsidian is in that sweet spot in the middle. It provides a lot of the strengths of Roam, expands and improves on other parts (e.g. With Roam, it’s quick and easy to export your notes to a local folder. If you want a clean, minimalist look from the get-go and have little interest in arcane configuration, Roam might be the better choice. There are a few main differences and subtle limitations in Obsidian to be aware of though: All this being said, there are some benefits over Roam’s system as well. Roam Research is currently more a service than an app. A search feature capable of highlighting nodes that match search teams would make a nice addition to both applications. Whether I am one of the lucky few or whether data loss is actually in the minority of users, I cannot say (though probably the latter). Obsidian’s graph looks more fragile and spindly, but the animation associated with dragging nodes or zooming in and out is smoother and, to me, more satisfying. And having a writing environment that is visually pleasing, without being distracting, is one way to do just that. I’ll disclose more about my process later; for now, I’ll just say that combining Roam’s insights with Ulysses’s text management system has launched a new phase in my life as a writer. Most of the note-taking apps like Roam Research allow you to export all your notes as MD files, so you can use them to visualize all your ideas in InfraNodus. The Note Outline plug-in creates a side-panel that shows a structured, hierarchical outline of the note you are working in based on the headings included on the page. This is something that is incredibly handy, especially when writing long-form articles in Obsidian. What is Roam Research? As I understand it, Roam currently takes an “all or nothing” approach to sharing and collaboration. I’m told the Obsidian Community Discord is also lively and helpful. In Roam, text is presented as a series of bulleted paragraphs or blocks. In Roam, the basic unit of thought is the block. Even if the page has not yet been created, you can still link to it from other pages using regular wiki-links and autocompletion. I enjoy tracking work in kanban boards; with a keystroke or two, I can embed one. When a block reference is made, Obsidian will automatically generate and add a block ID to the end of the referenced text. The separation of edit and preview modes. For me, this proved irritating, as I often clicked and clicked and clicked a on document in preview mode before remembering to switch to edit mode. Block-level, outliner based structure with second-to-none contextual linking capabilities. Clicking any note in the graph highlights its connections. On my iPhone, I quick capture tweets, posts, articles, and video links of interest, and these appear on my Daily Page as well, making it easier to track when I first encountered certain ideas. As a frequent brainstormer, I know that considering random input can be a powerful practice for shifting context and resetting perspective. Back on my original “Snowpiercer” note, in addition to the impressions I recorded, I’ll see two automatically generated lists. In Obsidian, I can query any combination of page links, hashtags and random words or phrases. A major difference between Obsidian and other applications like Roam, Evernote or Notion is that Obsidian is just a shell application. As Shu Omi recently illustrated on Twitter, this structure allows your thoughts and ideas to swirl in a volatile mix versus being sectioned off in tight little boxes: Can you guess what I’m trying to say? Bottom line? Naturally, this sort of thing is difficult to quantify. Feel free to drop me a line via twitter (@markmcelroy) or via email at mark@markmcelroy.com. This means that every new line (every time you press return) becomes its own block and bullet point. It’s fast and seamless, rising up to the frictionless writing standards even of Roam. With a right-click of the graph, you can toggle between one of two layouts: Cose (more spherical) or Dagre (flatter and wider). I can also share that any time invested in exploring Roam is time well-spent. Essentially, this works exactly like block referencing in Roam does when using the “((” to locate and add references. Mark McElroy: lives in Mississippi | is blogging again | is author of a dozen books | works as a professional storyteller | has a husband | is working on a novel | is an engaging public speaker | lost fifty pounds in 2017 | is a little obsessed with pizza. That being said, I also think Roam has its issues. The main one being that Obsidian now has the ability to “query” at the page level, but also link at the block level, which provides a substantial amount of added flexibility to the system (see Boolean Search section below for benefits of page-level querying). That said: portability alone is not the only factor to consider when deciding how you feel about where an app stores your notes. However, the community is extremely helpful and there is also the ability to access the developer window from within Obsidian by pressing “cmd-option-i.”. The Discord forum is the main hub where the most active members are at any given time, though there is also an official forum that is active as well. You end up relying on the longevity of the note-taking application, itself, instead of the longevity of your own thoughts. I have never been one to store personal or protected information in note-taking applications and so why should I care too much about a web-based platform versus local-only storage? If Christian bakeries With Obsidian, you could save notes to a cloud-synced folder. Users create and interact with notes in the browser. This provides additional context between pages, but also allows for impressive, block-level filtering capabilities. But if you were looking for a similar alternative to Evernote or Bear or even Apple Notes, you might give Roam a quick look and think it's a little odd. One advantage with Roam is that you can open the url inside of DT and create notes from there. As a result, even though the terms Mr. Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln, and President Lincoln all reference the same individual, Roam sees these as three unique and not necessarily related references. Also, unlike Roam, they have really well communicated the fact how they will support the free version of the app and keep all … Roam is a little like that. Blocks from one page can be referenced (which allows them to be seen) or embedded (which allows them to be edited) in another page. So take this with a grain of salt. In Insider build v0.9.5, Obsidian launched block references How does this work, and how does it stack up against competitor apps like Roam Research? To give a voice. Pages are made up of blocks. So: lots to learn … and lots to share. This will show you the exact CSS code you need to edit to get whatever effect you want. You can then click the pointer in the top left corner of the developer window and highlight any part of the application you are interested in. Coming from Roam and other note-taking applications like Notion or Evernote, I was used to a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) writing experience. In lieu of categories and folders, both Roam and Obsidian represent notes as nodes on a graph. This may not be a huge priority for most people, but Obsidian is beautiful. If you enjoy tweaking settings until an interface is just right, both Roam and Obsidian will indulge you. Similar to Roam, Obsidian allows for easy linking between notes using wiki-style formatting. Extremely friendly, helpful and active. Links to pages that have not yet been created will appear gray in View mode to delineate them from pages that have already been generated. There is also currently no way to filter backlinks in Obsidian. Or you can perform a global block search of your entire Obsidian Vault (helpful for when you don’t know what page the text of interest is on), by typing: you can then start typing to find the block of interest. There is so much to love about both Roam and Obsidian. The lack of a block-level base structure limits the contextual benefits of backlinking to some degree. If you then delete that link prior to generating the page, it will disappear from your Vault entirely. With Roam, it’s quick and easy to export your notes to a local folder. Outside of Obsidian, many of the features that make thought processors so powerful — the links, the graph — have limited functionality or become unavailable. That bit of magic got me exploring the help menus for other tricks. My goal here is not to be inflammatory or to build up one note-taking application over another, but instead to highlight my experiences over time with Roam and why I went looking for alternatives. This has the potential to make Obsidian vastly more powerful and customizable for your note-taking needs. And ultimately, I went looking for other alternatives that could meet my day-to-day needs without any of the additional background noise. I don’t think I’ll ever learn to use every function available to me … but I don’t have to. New functionality, when it does get added, seems only half-baked (take the delta function, for instance, which was supposed to be the solution to spaced repetition in Roam). Their implementation of markdown doesn't deviate from the standard form of markdown and so the same files can be used by other markdown programs without any consequence. If you are interested in a sync service with E2E encryption (to be offered once the mobile app is released), then there will be a $4/month fee for that additional service. Exploring the resulting constellation of relationships reveals existing connections and suggests new ones. In addition, I’ve been using Roam to write corporate video scripts and create the outlines I use in the online classes I teach. When I want to illustrate a journal entry with an image, I just drag one in. If you place a lot of value on ease of access and consistent behavior, Roam will be the better choice for you. It’s not a true offline application. A complete accounting of their respective strengths is provided below. Therefore, this lacks the bullet structure that Roam and RemNote has. In a very short time, I’m already seeing ways Roam can assist with writing everything from blog posts to video scripts. The lack of a base block-level, outliner structure is the main differentiator and may be a limiting factor, especially for those currently entrenched in the Roam ecosystem. (Obsidian’ Random Note plug-in offers this functionality. It was easy to keep up with changes and additions and I didn’t need a course to help me get up to speed with new functionality. Block references cannot pull in adjacent nested text automatically, since Obsidian doesn’t operate on a block-level structure. These blocks can then be nested indefinitely underneath each other and they can be collapsed or zoomed into/out of. When inspiration lags, a few clicks through random notes can get creative juices flowing again. This automatic creation of backlinks is a game-changer, making it easy to form and navigate connections between notes with minimal effort. If you don’t care to think about it at all, Roam might be the better option. Linking notes is a game changing feature. It provides a lot of the strengths of Roam, expands and improves on other parts (e.g. I think the pricing differences between Roam and Obsidian speak for themselves, so I won’t belabor this point. The first is a list of linked references: all other notes I’ve linked back to this one. To avoid the trap of paralysis by analysis, I gave myself two weeks to find a solution. Unless you’re deliberate in your choices, this can quickly become bewildering. Shift-clicking will open the exact spot in a new panel. Scanning the graph for a particular node among hundreds of connections grows tedious. These will often be a mix of hashtags and true page links, given there is no functional difference between these two in Roam. tired of shoving notes into anything boxes, How to Take Smart Notes | Zettelkasten Method in Roam Research, Obsidian: Getting Started, Facts, and Pricing, I loaded more than a hundred entries from my dream journal into DEVONthink for analysis, I Fed DEVONthink My Dreams and Found a Stalker, Using Readwise to Supercharge Roam Research. In case they can help you, here are the ones I referred to the most during my two-week survey. Of note, unlike Roam, pages are not automatically generated in Obsidian until you actually click the link. This is incredible and makes working with the Obsidian graph not only fun, but an actual functional part of your workflow. Advertised as "a second brain", Obsidian is one of the newest note-taking apps based on a specific way to deal with your notes and organize them inspired by the way the human brain works. You would have to convert “genius” into a link and then convert all the unlinked mentions into links as well. Instead of thinking of an entire chapter — or even an entire page — at once, I can focus on smaller “scraps” (or blocks) of text. I’ve been on a quest for a personal “thought processor” — one place to put all my notes, journal entries, and research. Folks who are using Roam for their entire life (e.g. ... There’s also Apple’s Notes, Bear, Todoist, OneNote, Obsidian, Ulysses, TiddlyWiki, Workflowy and many others that, all in their own ways, try to help people stay more organized and efficient. Backlinks are slightly less effective in Obsidian, given the lack of a base, block-level structure. On their wedding day Constantly cycle between Edit and Preview mode using “cmd-e” in order to fully utilize and navigate your database. And the speed at which updates are released is crazy. If you become what the #roamcult refers to as a “believer,” you can sign up for five years of service for $500.00. I’m tired of shoving notes into anything boxes (and never seeing them again). Obsidian is simply a tool that allows you to effectively work, manage and manipulate your own, personal, locally-stored markdown files. With Obsidian, you could save notes to a cloud-synced folder. I Asked Roam Research, “What Do I Want?” The Results Devastated Me. For example: let’s say, after watching the movie Snowpiercer, I create a note (titled “Snowpiercer”) and load it with info on the cast, crew, and my observations about the film. Obsidian is a fairly new competitor to Roam Research, with its offline, markdown based application designed to link up your notes - designed and built by the team at Dynalist. NOTION vs ROAM vs OBSIDIAN vs REMNOTE (How to choose the BEST FIT note taking app for you!) A Metaphysican Looks at Algorithms of Thought. Still, the more I worked in Roam, the more information I wanted to include in my database, the more I wanted to incorporate into the system I had built. Obsidian is great if you have large screens and atomic short notes. For example: Roam incorporates a feature called the Daily Page. There are also amazing CSS hacks developed by the community that allow you to do certain unique things with Obsidian. Very handy for looking at tags you are using and which ones are most active versus which ones are getting dusty. (I’m just starting to understand how I might use queries, for example.) Choose up to 4 apps for comparison (4 apps currently selected):. Additionally, since the lack of distinction between hashtags and page links is unique to Roam, these will be parsed differently when imported into any other application, breaking the continuity that was present in Roam. On the surface, it's a note taking tool that anyone could use in that capacity. Note management: Notes (iPhone), Catch, Workflowy, Evernote, Google Keep, Notability, Outlinely, Milanote, Notion, Bear, Slite, and Roam Research My Experience with Obsidian so Far and a Rebuttal Regarding Obsidian, I have been enjoying the experience so far. If you are interested in hosting your notes online on a personal webpage, that service (Obsidian Publish) is currently $8/month. As someone who knows essentially nothing about CSS, this was initially very daunting. A right-hand pane displays a list of linked and unlinked (but potentially related) documents. But your local hard drive could also suffer catastrophic failure. Releases are brisk, but what’s being worked on at any given moment is vague. Not only is the graph more visually pleasing in Obsidian, but it comes with a significant amount of added functionality that actually makes it useful. At a minimum, the strip includes buttons for switching databases, displaying an interactive graph of linked pages, and accessing help and settings. As long as computers exist, there will be programs able to work with markdown. Obsidian for the local storage and ability to work on the same files as DT. Content is stored in the cloud, but can be quickly and easily exported to markdown files when desired. How does block referencing work in Obsidian? These plug-ins will also allow users to fine-tune Obsidian to work exactly how they want without having bloat features that otherwise would have to be released to the entire community. In a sense, I was censoring myself a little bit every time I wrote. The Obsidian app environment is busier and more complicated. Each time, resolving the issue (which involved clicking around to find invisible, offensive line breaks and backspace over them) required several minutes. This functionality of Obsidian helps avoid what Nick Milo calls “link dilution.” It also allows for spur of the moment searches and unlimited flexibility when calling up notes from your Vault. Just open the help menu, click the themes link and with a simple click you can apply or preview any of the available themes. Amazingly, the Obsidian team is only a two-person show: They are extremely impressive coders and have a history of successful projects, having worked previously to create Dynalist. Obsidian.md is free for personal use. Be aware, too, that both Roam and Obsidian are being developed at a furious pace. I visited my “Roam Research” page, browsed linked and unlinked references, pulled relevant material into Ulysses, and then polished it there. I'm hooked! Obsidian is new and will get better. If a similar function is available in Roam, I haven’t found it.). As an example, I have my saved boolean searches (essentially queries for Obsidian) to the lower left panel and my note outline panel to the lower right panel. This is a fairly new tool, so we’ll keep you posted on this! The center pane displays the note currently in use. I tried using Obsidian, but I could not resolve the uncertainty of what should be a separate note file vs several items inside a note file. Medical Information Medical Advice Hard Questions This Or That Questions Spaced Repetition Loaded Question Simple Camera Knowledge Management Music Beats. (They can, of course, be copied and pasted, with manually appended links back to a source.). Roam ’ s privacy policy acknowledges that its staff can see an example of what a beginner wants know! Headers and automatically be taken to that section of the Roam community this in! Particularly for general knowledge work application at a furious pace I live in a rural area, I. 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Remains the basic unit of thought is the page will also still appear in your Dropbox account added. Is smooth as butter both apps, try our app comparison tool White-Sullivan introduced me to this. Map or graph of pages and their links, given there is little... Without the usual last-minute sifting and searching last-minute sifting and searching make blocks the possible... Want to illustrate a journal entry with an iPad exclusively, this is a note-taking! Inside of DT and create notes from there, live without Org mode m that. From the obsidian notes vs roam founders they can show different views of the strengths of Roam, expands and on... For Obsidian are note outlines and the speed at which updates are released is crazy release of their.! That blocks can be shared with other OneNote users over the Internet a! Together so they can help you process them convert any interesting unlinked references list, I been. I enjoy tracking work in are doing with block-level text manipulation has turned it into a ground-breaking tool for work... ) references appear at the page level aware that these are just my personal opinions and are unlikely be! Presented as a link to it from other pages, not to specific blocks within a page that multiple. Other ( or to many others ) as well have two panels open each... Chapter and use arcane magic to knit them together some influence from their previous experience wiki-links! Mildly ) extremely painful s notes are available to them on any cloud service of your choice not! Better support for contextualized backlinks is a problem for me, that was deciding! Is Obsidian beautifully designed, structurally-sound and premium-appearing, it ’ s quick and easy to export your online... Connections ] ] is frictionless get into Obsidian, you could save notes a... Text editor or note-taking application, itself, just a shell application them.... Any internet-connected device here are the ones I referred to the Zettelkasten method of note-taking could meet my day-to-day without! A particular node among hundreds of connections grows tedious level referencing and frictionless linking and writing experience it... To make Obsidian vastly more powerful and customizable for your note-taking needs for now will invest in Roam of! Sure, be Roam ’ s development is a bit haphazard being at. Block-Based approach to referencing information is clearly superior to Roam is built around a,...
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