Are Dynalist Pro users paying the development of Obsidian?

It is just for my information. Are the Dynalist Pro users paying the development of Obsidian? Obsidian was (is) still free for a long time. Less updates for Dynalist, much, much more updates for Obsidian… How does it work from the financial side? Or do you have any investors of Obsidian?

Obsidian does have paid services

Paid services are nearly new. Development starts a long time before. And I´m not sure how many customers are paying at the moment to get a reasonable income. It would be great if I can get an answer to have full transparence, @Erica.

Gerwin, it is valid to ask how much time is invested into Dynalist, to see if you think the quality of the product and the level of support together are worth your money.

It is NOT for you nor any user to ask them to account how they spend their income or time beyond that. If they choose to live well, or if they choose to develop a business, or if they invest money from other income or investment sources outside of Dynalist into a project of their choosing, that is their choice.

As I understand it, Dynalist is not profitable compared to what two developers might hope to earn from their work. But even that is none of my business.

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Illogical question to me. When you buy a product, you pay for the product. If you buy an iphone, you aren’t paying for the development of the iCar. That’s Tim Cook’s decision.

I never pay for the future development of anything, only the present product. It’s not charity to me. Currently, dynalist pro is the best productivity app online. So I pay. They could never develop another line of code for years for all I care. As long as there is nothing better on the market, I pay. Maybe some day another app will eclipse them, then I’ll pay the other app. It’s a nested list of markdown, incredibly easy to migrate between services when the time comes. Good luck, other developers.

I’m paying for Custom CSS, Google Calendar Sync, Image/file upload, Daily backups & version history, Custom Hotkeys, custom mobile toolbar, API based inputs, and the frequent upkeep from & Erica. Just like I was before I ever even heard of Obsidian. I don’t care what people do with their time - that’s none of my business. I buy products as they are today. As soon as I lose utility I will dip out. But for now, I find Dynalist Pro a easy buy. Workflowy/Notion/etc just don’t do it for me, and I think they have a long way to go to be equivalent to working as well as Dynalist, especially now that I know the powerful ins and outs of the CSS and API.

The only contender I imagine in the years to come is Workflowy, but they have no plans to make it possible to integrate with Google Assistant, no plans to make google calendar email reminders possible, no plans for theme customization beyond their 8 or so presets, all they are developing is nonsense like mirror nodes that frankly have little utility.


I almost second BigChungus except for the mirror nodes which I’d really have some benefit in my workflow. :wink:


I have to agree, mainly, with BigChungus. If you pay for Dynalist you are getting the best outliner IMHO. Also to my mind there are only so many improvements you can make to an outliner. I don’t really think Dynalist is missing any major features that I want.

Having said that, it is a subscription business model, which brings with it some expectations around new features and fixes.

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I think it’s implicit in the subscription model for cloud based software that there is some development of the product. It’s one of the selling points of this way of paying versus the cost of continually upgrading locally installed programs with fixed point functionality. Having said that, of course, Workflowy has famously not been developing its product for many years. It’s users were clearly satisfied with the limited functionality and continued to subscribe. Those that weren’t, migrated to Dynalist. Recently, Workflowy has been actively developing again. Perhaps, Dynalist will go through a similar cycle. Right now, Dynalist functionality is very comprehensive and concerns about lack of development probably not important. Shida has already said that bugs will continue to be resolved and with the possibility of open-sourcing and easily exportable data the risk is minimal. I do think that communication and openess are important when users express these types of concern. Erica and Shida have an excellent track record in this regard but an online business that suffers a crisis of user confidence can very quickly fail. That’s one of the downsides of the subscription model - revenues can grow rapidly but fall rapidly as well. It’s all about managing expectations. With this in mind, it might be an idea to revise the bit of the website about why users should choose Dynalist


I agree, Dynalist used to benefit from Workflowy lack of updates. I took a look at what Workflowy is today, and I’m quite impressed. Now they have dates, a clean support for links, not to mention how classy the mirror functionality is (a winner for me).

The risk of reversed situation is quite concrete, specially by considering what @Erica is telling in this other thread.

Have you seen how they implemented the dates? It’s incredibly awful. To me is a complete crap.
First, it uses “smart dates”, then when the date is formed, there’s no visual indication other than the slight underlining that one can barely see. If we need to edit anything on the date, it gets broken and you have to recreate the date again. The date format you can’t even customize.
There is no calendar pop-up, no date icon. This is a very poor implementation, IMO. And they took YEARS to come up with this feature.

The mirror may be useful for some people but I don’t see a reason to use it, especially because I hate having duplicated entries in my notes. I prefer to use links instead, like one from the source pointing to the destination note.
WorkFlowy may be a “classy” piece of software, with everything almost like Apple-designed. Nice, good-looking, elegant, extreme simplicity.

Dynalist just works the way it is and it does a very good job. May not be as nice and good-looking but it’s much much better than WF. And I really believe it will take years for WF to reach the bare minimum to be compared to Dynalist.

If the Dynalist team could have some investment support (I would do it, if I could) to hire someone(s), in order to promote the “Dynalist 2.0”, refactored, brand-new, new design, better UX/UI. Then, it would really be top-notch.

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Thanks for the reminder, will update that part of the website!

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Sorry just saw the post now.

To answer your question, I think we need a definition of “Pro users paying for the development of Obsidian”. No offense, but right now it sounds like a loaded question to me.

On the financial side, Dynalist is the first product of Dynalist Inc, and Obsidian is the second product. Although being free (Dynalist is also free btw, plus we bear the server cost of free users unlike with Obsidian, an offline app), Obsidian has been making money since May 2020.

So what I think the situation is: Dynalist Inc. (us) has shifted focus from Dynalist, a mature product, to incubate a new product since start of 2020. Obsidian has been approached by venture capitalists but we have not taken any investment yet.

My understanding of why Dynalist Pro users are paying is that (1) they’re paying for access to Pro features and/or (2) they are paying with an expectation that the product with continue to exist (because free users do have a server cost) and maybe improve. I don’t think any of them are intentionally paying for the development of Obsidian, but they might be effectively doing that if all they’re paying for are significant future updates.

I hope that helps!