Dynalist & Obsidian

If you export your lists with the - indentation style and put them into .md files, they would show up in Obsidian, but it will show up as a plain list in Obsidian though.

There’s no need to “migrate” to Obsidian if Dynalist is working fine for you – there’s absolutely no plans to shut down Dynalist, just want to make sure that’s clearly communicated. :slight_smile:


to me, it feels like dynalist is missing the backlinking and offline features of obsidian and Obsidian is missing the outlining features of dynalist… so we end up with 2 products which are nearly there but feel incomplete, instead of one rule-them-all note-taking software.
So are you planning to make dynalist and obsidian converge in the future or will you maintain two different set of features ?
maybe some people prefer to have multiple notetaking/secondbrain/pkm sofwares, I know I would rather use one feature rich software that has great outlining features + backlinking + offline mode.
Not interested in Roam because of the price and the cult thing, notion is too slow, currently evaluating RemNote and Obsidian, but dynalist import is incomplete/requires reworking in both apps, plus missing android features.


First things first: good luck with Obsidian, it looks like an really interesting tool! I’m a big fan of using Markdown for all kinds of stuff and also keen on privacy. So the idea of a knowledge tool that uses simple Markdown notes that you keep local ownershop of is really cool.

My whole life is in Dynalist and for task orientated data and structured data/knowledge I can’t see any advantage in changing. Also with the clipper, email-in and drag and dropping of files features in Dynalist it’s great at “grabbing” data for you to store, organise and use.

But I can also see from a creative thinking perspective imposing a hierarchy on your ideas/notes is somewhat limiting. So I get that just linking from note to note without worrying about “organising” them has many advantages.

I guess I’ll be “having a play” with Obsidian over the next week or so to see if and how it might fit in my workflow.

If nothing else I think it will prompt me to use tags and internal links more in Dynalist. At the moment I don’t use tags as much as I ought and it rarely occurs to me to use an internal link.


There’s a lot more different about Obsidian that it doesn’t make sense to merge the products. Obsidian is an offline tool for making and organizing notes in a format that guarantees for future usability as well as privacy.

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to each his own I guess… I’d rather not use dynalist for outlining and obsidian for pkm, I would prefer a single centralized knowledge vault. I just think it’s weird that they went with another paradigm at the core. Roam is appealing to me because it’s an outliner at its core. RemNote is also based on outlining with parent/children, etc
in current 0.6.7 form, Obsidian is a markdown note-taking app with some transclusion/backlinking features (lacking context) that has some incomplete outlining features, and I found that strange coming from the devs of Dynalist (the best outliner around). It wouldn’t bother me so much if they were not the guys behind dynalist, that’s all I’m saying. :slight_smile:


An outliner needs a database to back it up. Otherwise bullet points or paragraphs cannot be referenced uniquely, and collapsed/zoom state cannot be saved. Much of the outliner power is lost. For PKM you want longevity, so plain text is the core value. Obsidian is built in the assumption that Obsidian might go away someday, and at that time you can still have all your stuff in a recognizable form. We started with desktop apps because (1) they can read local files and (2) once you download something, it will work as long as your operating system allows it to.

If we can somehow magically make plain text work with outlining we’d certainly love that, but right now it’s a trade-off between portability and power.

This thread might help clarify this point a bit: https://twitter.com/zettlr/status/1269347287832109057

Of course, if you do not care about whether your data lives in plain text form, Obsidian is not for you, so I understand why you won’t find it appealing.

Once we reach 1.0 and people can write plugins, there might be developers who make Obsidian into a functional outliner by adding metadata to your plain text, but that’s not something we want to do in the core app.


That confirms my sense of Obsidian as an Evernote replacement. I would never use Dynalist for long-term storage of information. It’s like a bench that needs to be regularly cleaned in order to function well. That said, it would be great to eventually to have a web version of Obsidian so it would have a comparable accessibility as Evernote.

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Hi Erica,

thanks for the clarifications and making it clear that outlining is not part of your roadmap. Is there any document/thread that states your vision for Obsidian aside from the website homepage and the trello roadmap ? Even without adding complete outlining to Obsidian, would you still consider adding folding in the preview pane in the near future ?

Mindforger (Github link to doc) (it is also an offline/local md editor with some backlinking and autolinking features) can turn markdown sections into outlining. you can’t link to a specific section in a note but it is still useful to get an overview of the content.
I’ll probably stick with Mindforger+Dynalist for now but I hope Obsidian will grow to be a viable replacement.


DynaList is like a bench? What bench needs regular cleaning? What bench “functions”?

Yes, so clearly this outline works in text but you don’t get reliable internal linking

*  e
    * f
      * g

What would be really need though is if you could do something like


I don’t know what markdown syntax would be appropriate.

And be able to edit the content right there. It would look kind of like Quote does here, but only in View mode. If Markdown editor showed the content that would be radical, or if Wysiwyg supported that.

This page should help:

Yes, that’s something we’re considering.


The bench is a metaphor. It’s about having a space during the working day where you can focus on the many tasks to be done, which you gradually complete, before replacing them with new tasks. It’s different to the space where you abstract what you’ve learnt for future reference. Of course, you can have separate documents for this in Dynalist, but the function of backlinks in Obsidian lends itself to a web of knowledge.


Oof that’s dense text, Kevin. I have never heard such a definition of bench. Let me expand to see if I understood you.

So you set out a bunch of tasks to do, you do them, mark them off, and then set out a bunch more. You set aside a block of time in your day strictly for processing such tasks. You believe this needs regular cleaning. Does this refer to leftover tasks you’ve decided not to do and should be deleted? So the bench is this place (your list) where you park tasks and this needs to be pruned to keep the list from being clunky.

So then in saying it’s different from this other space, you mean you don’t keep tasks in the same documents as notes about what you learned. What you like to do then is have links between your knowledge and your tasks so it’s all coordinated but the knowledge isn’t kept just in the task list.

I think I understand now.

Now somehow DynaList is like a bench?


Agreed. I ran into the same thing on Linux (running on a Asus Chromebook)

That seems a good summary. I work in the crafts, so have borrowed methods from a physical workshop into knowledge work. I’m also usually at a standing desk during the day when working on Dynalist and sitting in the evening and weekend when using Roam as I distill what’s been learnt.

I can include links between Dynalist and Roam so there is a working connection. Obsidian could potentially replace Roam, but it would need to have a URL for each note. That’s possible if the markdown files are stored in the cloud, but it would need some facility in Obsidian to extract that URL.


I would absolutely be interested in this! The less dependent I can make my Obsidian system on a single computer, the better.

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My current hypothesis is that Dynalist is a great thinking support tool that I use both as a diary and a sketchpad for ideas. However, I can’t seem to be able to use Dynalist effectively for task/project tracking or for long-term memory. I find that I tend to treat Dynalist as a write-only/mostly medium and I need a different tool for building up a personal knowledgebase.

Back in grad school I had a literal zettelkasten in the form of index cards and file folders of academic papers. I think that Obsidian / Roam has potential in this area but it’s early days for me still, so not sure how right I am. Your very succinct and insightful bench metaphor really resonates with my hypothesis, so thank-you for that!

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Yes, I’m still finding that Dynalist is essential for bench-like activities such as knowledge work and text snippets. Functions such as unchecking lists and item notes cannot be replicated elsewhere. In time they could be incorporated into nodal platforms, but I wonder whether we still need a separate space for two different kinds of activity - doing and thinking.

For long-term memory, I’d like to suggest trying RemNote, it has a very easy way to build flash cards with space repetition function.


For me RemNote is a mess. I just find it unintuitive and confusing. But I might just be easily confused.