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Top 5 Roam Alternatives

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Posted by Luhmann
Sep 4, 2020 at 11:47 AM


I’m still using Roam, but keep an eye on what is happening out there with the various alternative projects. These are the ones that seem the most promising to me right now:

- Obisian https://obsidian.md/
- Logseq https://logseq.com/
- Liandi https://github.com/88250/liandi/blob/master/README_en_US.md
- Athens https://github.com/athensresearch/athens
- TiddlyResearch https://kebifurai.github.io/TiddlyResearch/

There are, of course, many other interesting projects out there, but this is my top-5 list. Would be curious what others here think should be on the top five list that isn’t here?


Posted by bartb
Sep 4, 2020 at 01:22 PM


Not sure. Maybe Org-mode?  Roam seems to have a ignited a bonfire of interest in these types of tools. Here are some others https://nesslabs.com/roam-research-alternatives 


Posted by Dr Andus
Sep 5, 2020 at 01:23 PM


bartb wrote:
>Roam seems to have a ignited a bonfire of
>interest in these types of tools.

There is a reason why Roam is so hot at the moment. It has really nailed some essential features, and for that particular combination there are no alternatives, at least not with the ease of use that Roam has.

I am a long-time WorkFlowy user, and I also use Dynalist, yet Roam has tempted me away from WorkFlowy as my daily task management and short- and (increasingly) long-term memory tool.

One killer feature for me is the automatic daily blank pages appearing on the top of the page at the start of the day, which forces the review of tasks from the day before and facilitates weekly reviews as well, so it helps primarily with prioritisation, which is probably the most important process of any productivity system yet it’s one of the hardest processes to manage and it’s and often neglected aspect of productivity software (at least regarding the management of the vast accumulation of tasks vis-a-vis the need to re-evaluate, re-order, and choose proirities, or abandon them, which is also important).

The other key feature is the automatic keyword recognition / auto linking / bi-directional linking / auto search or auto filtering or whatever you want to call it. So as long as you have a page or tage created with a word or phrase, Roam creates a list of “Unlinked References” and displays them automatically, which link to every instance and page where that term was mentioned.

This is enormously useful in discovering relationships or understanding the history of an issue or being able to analyse and issue or even to set up future reminders, by linking an issue to a future date page, so that when that day arrives, the automatically displayed date page will list all the related issues that you wanted to remind yourself days, weeks, months, years ahead (by which time you would have forgotten those relationships).

The reason Roam is my main productivity tool now is exactly that I am able to design workflows which other tools are simply not capable of supporting to the same extent.

There are other features of Roam that support the above killer features, such as the granular approach of “blocks,” i.e. that each line is essentially the referenceable element, for which its page is the context, so that’s another very powerful feature, being able to see each issue within a temporal but also conceptual context, and then in the context of all of its linkages.

Another key feature is the ability to have multiple pages displayed side-by-side, and to have the bookmark bar on the side, which makes pinning important pages easy, and also of the dragging and dropping of tasks from one day’s notes into the next, as part of the review and re-prioritisation process. I have never been so consistent with reviewing my daily and weekly tasks than now, and that’s down to a large degree to Roam.

There are loads of other sophisticated features I don’t even use (such as constructing complex queries and custom filters), so I’m not really a power user of Roam, I’m just using some core features that really hit the sweet spot in terms of being able to manage not only my personal life, but my work life, and then even the lives of family members, as it just makes tracking issues so easy.

You could say it’s a detail-orientated control freak’s dream come true! ;-)


Posted by washere
Sep 5, 2020 at 04:59 PM


^ Good post by Dr.

Also thanks to Luhmann for the list.


Posted by Luhmann
Sep 6, 2020 at 04:55 AM


Thanks Dr Andus. One of the reasons I made this list is a lot of the lists I see are of apps that don’t really accomplish any of the things you mention in your post. These don’t necessarily accomplish all of them (they have their own visions), but they come the closest to capturing what makes Roam work.

What is missing from the list, for my personal preferences, is a true Apple-native solution that supports MacOS and iOS. But then there isn’t even an app in that ecosystem that comes close to Workflowy or Dynalist. (Outlinely looked hopeful for a while, but development was too erratic.) I really think it is a shame that all these apps are primarily web apps, because I still prefer the native app experience - even if the difference is getting smaller. I blame Apple’s awful App Store policies ...


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