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TheBrain v. Obsidian as of May 2021

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Posted by TempusFugit
May 5, 2021 at 07:24 AM


I have been away for quite awhile so forgive exhuming any old commentary.

For my PKM needs, I need hub/spoke/node visualization. So for a long time I have used   TheBrain (up to v.11)

V.12 seems to suggest that Harlan has “jumped the shark” (US media lingo) meaning TheBrain (application) has gone too far.

While some nice improvements made, it now feels “over-engineered” as if perfunctory features have been added to justify cost of an upgrade.

As such, this forum turned me on to OBSIDIAN which at first glance to offer great flexibility and modularity.

I have not tried *Roam*, (which also seems to be a popular at this dance).

But my key essentials are graph-visualization and local PC operation (don’t trust my data easily to the cloud - absent encryption)

As it is now May 2021, I wonder if I may solicit comments - esp. from anyone who has used TheBrain in the past and may have changed to OBSIDIAN or another graphing PKM solution.

As we all know, changing is a big effort - and another reason why text/md based solutions are also essential.

Also, I am keen to be able to create a topic specific Project to publish to the web.  TheBrain does this only via their own Cloud.  Unattractive since in v.8 it was possible to publish to one’s own servers.

Comments from this most August body is welcome.



Posted by TempusFugit
May 5, 2021 at 09:27 AM


I may have been unduly harsh on TB12.

Having road tested more this night, I can see where Harlan is going.

It is a material improvement.

If I could have edited the prior comment - would have.

Hereby amended.  -TF


Posted by moritz
May 5, 2021 at 05:24 PM


Seconding the notion - I tried Roam Research and Obsidian, now firmly back in the TheBrain camp (using the fairly stable v12 beta).

Numerous advantages of the decades of development work - e.g. there is no scalability and performance limitation (a “brain” will never grow too big); to-do’s are aggregated automatically and elegantly in a side pane (which has full edit capabilities); iOS apps could be better but do the job; import/export sufficiently mature to use TB as a graph database: E.g. I imported the full APQC capability model as a graph, including KPIs translating into text, which is now available for cross-referencing in any value realization thoughts that I am adding.
If need be (corporate compliance) TheBrain works flawlessly in full offline mode (unlike Roam), while offering stable online sync where data is less sensitive.

I am gladly paying for my annual subscription to get both the cloud sync as well as steady stream of meaningful improvements (even TB12 beta has by now shipped 52 releases!).
Innovation is not small - Markdown is much improved, the automatic aggregation of related (not yet linked) topics mimics to some degree a key feature of Roam, etc. etc.

While I will not stop using the gazillion other tools (CRIMP), at least Roam and Obsidian will not be considered in the near future, based on my current success with Brain for a number of my use cases.

TempusFugit wrote:
I may have been unduly harsh on TB12.
> >Having road tested more this night, I can see where Harlan is going.
> >It is a material improvement.
> >If I could have edited the prior comment - would have.
> >Hereby amended.  -TF


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
May 5, 2021 at 07:52 PM


Some additional positive notes about TheBrain. The search is very fast. You can now also quickly create a new thought right from the search bar… it works like nvAlt and some other apps do, combining search with creation.

So navigating around a large Brain is fast and efficient.


Posted by Amontillado
May 6, 2021 at 12:23 AM


Sounds like I need to look at The Brain again. I fell off the bandwagon at version 8, back in the old days of Java.


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