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Roam v. Obsidian

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Posted by satis
May 6, 2021 at 04:21 PM



TLDR: “Unfortunately, it’s impossible to pick a single winner.”

I think it’s actually early days for these types of apps, especially with all manner of apps starting to offer similar features like backlinks. But the article gives a nice overview of both apps and how they things like notes, publishing, theming, backlinks and more.


Posted by Luhmann
May 8, 2021 at 12:59 AM


This is a pretty good piece. Two things I wished they’d added:

1. Obsidian is working on a WYSIWYG editor which will replace the plain text/preview approach for those who want it. Considering the pace of development so far and where they are on their roadmap, I imagine we’ll see this fairly soon.

2. Roam offers steep discounts for those who can’t afford it or who use Roam for education. You just have to write and ask.

Also worth reading their post on Roam as a task manager which is linked in that article:



Posted by Simon
May 23, 2021 at 11:44 AM


The article suggests that Roam is not as secure? Is this true? How far away are Roam’s ios apps?

I’m currently using bear, drafts, Standard Notes and Omnioutliner. Could either Roam or Obsidian replace these? My use case is teaching and sermon prep, plus running a church/charity.

Roam does come across as more polished ie their tasks and block backlinks. Am I right in assuming that Roam allows the adding of other docs like pdfs, but Obsidian is pure text? Does Obsidian parse dates?


Posted by satis
May 23, 2021 at 04:08 PM


I think you can see where the overlap is, the question is how much you need the additional linking features, and how much you’re willing to migrate to apps with pretty restricted typography/theming compared to OmniOutliner or Bear.

Speaking of Bear, I’ve tried it many times but just didn’t gel with the UI and the limited font choice, and never really found it measurably better *for my own needs* than Apple Notes. You might find this recent comparison article interesting, from someone who used Bear for years then switched to Ulysses


(Did Bear ever finally add search inside notes?)

Although OmniOutliner seems relegated to maintenance mode, it’s still the most powerful pure standalone outliner for Mac and iOS, and your files remain locally (and synced via iCloud) in your control. If you’re looking to switch Roam is probably a better all-in-one app as its outlining functionality remains better than Obsidian’s (although I prefer Obsidian’s sister app/service Dynalist for outlining.
But overall I’m wary of using Roam - because of its UI/look, it’s relative lock-in, the dramatic growth of competitors adding backlinks, the pricing, and the CEO’s promotion of ‘cult’ status for the app (alongside a small, vocal contingent of noisome fanboys for the product on Twitter and Reddit).

I am a promiscuous dabbler when it comes to apps for writing, note-taking, task management, pinboards, and kanbans, but I’m very conservative when it comes to switching to another app. Right now, for example, I’ve paid for the one-time Premium upgrade of UpNote and am using it as an Apple Notes replacement, but for my needs in most ways it barely improves on Apple Notes, mainly offering backlinks but lacking the macOS menubar quick-note feature I like so much in SnipNotes. The most recent version of the app replaced some fonts without notice, but added some features like page info.

And I think that with Roam and Obsidian you’ll also see that the apps are similarly in flux, with features added and improved and the apps leapfrogging each other in different ways. I feel like this is still early times for this particular type of outliner/notetaker and I’m not ready to abandon my current core apps until something become too compelling not to switch.


Posted by Christoph
May 23, 2021 at 06:38 PM


Simon wrote:
> The article suggests that Roam is not as secure? Is this true?

That’s certainly true, and the article explains it very well: Obsidian uses local files, while Roam stores the data in the cloud. With Obsidian you have the option to keep everything on your local computer only, and even if you use Obsidian sync, you have end-2-end encryption and the data is only stored on the synced devices. It is not stored anywhere in the cloud.


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