Roam Research, new web-based outliner that supports transclusion & wiki features - thoughts?

The app is here:

The help page is here:

Pretty impressed with how powerful it is after using it for 3-4 days. Looks like they are directly competing with WorkFlowy and Dynalist (“Roam is pretty similar to tree based online tools like Workflowy or Dynalist …”) :wink:

Some highlights:

  • fuzzy tag search
  • automatic display of backlinks
  • global auto update of wikilinks on rename
  • graph view (showing linking relations between pages)
  • page transclusion + also (!) block transclusion (I suspect they took an inspiration or two from Dynalist in this regard)
  • export as markdown (in one big file ala WorkFlowy)

Thoughts?

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I checked it out and it looks pretty interesting! Shida even talked to one of their cofounders and he seems really nice.

It’s interesting how the recent posts in General are no longer about Dynalist… It’s almost like the 2nd outlinersoftware.com where people talk about outliner stuff :slight_smile:

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outlinersoftware.com?

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Oops, my bad, haha. Fixed the typo! :smile:

Yes, backlinks is certainly of interest. I remember using them in the ill-fated Note Studio years ago.

But I think Dynalist is so far ahead of the pack, discussions about alternatives is more about the future development of Dynalist rather than serious competition. Some of us may use one of these for niche purposes, but it is far from being a replacement.

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If anybody really wants to see the program, what it can do, the short videos are helpful, but the real meat is in the Help document. There you see all kinds of information arranged in an editable and very hyperlinked manner. It’s very interesting, but it’s confusing to use, and being full of bugs at present just makes it more so. I’ll be watching to see how this develops.

Looks a bit like a combination of TiddlyWiki (which has been around for many years) and an outline. Not sure what the constraint of an outline adds, especially since the idea of TiddlyWiki is that it’s free form. It’s a link maker rather than a list maker so I wouldn’t see it as a Dynalist or Workflowy competitor. Might be useful for students and researchers which seems to be the demographic they’re pitching it at.

What outline adds is Workflowy style subdocument links, albeit powered up.

Yep, I think they’re precisely targeting researchers, thus the name.

Dynalist is definitely better w.r.t. general outliner functionality. But I believe the backlinks/graph representation/automated concept definition (like described in https://twitter.com/andy_matuschak/status/1190102758164066304) point at something interesting/important.

Would love to see a support of something like that in Dynalist! (is there a Trello card I can upvote for this one? :stuck_out_tongue:

Cross-references talks about something related too

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Just did a bit more exploring and sharing the blocks of data + the inline versioning seems like a great idea too!

I think this card is the closest thing: https://trello.com/c/iKkPV6JK/151-show-all-mentions-of-an-internal-link

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@Erica I think it’s related but does not really capture the main value of the way Roam represent things, I’d recommend you to play with their demo workspace if you haven’t already

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I have played with it, but unfortunately their demo/white paper is a bit messy right now. If you can give me some more specific pointers, like how to access the features you mentioned, that would be helpful! :hugs:

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I really like the feature “Roam Sidebar”, but I wish it to be more sophisticated. For example, anything you shift-click will open the sidebar with correspond function (item -> item & childs, link -> webpage, tag -> all relate tag…). Right now I always have to open a new window if I don’t want to lose my place. It will be a great new Pro feature :slight_smile:

  • [[Roam Sidebar]]
    • If you Shift-Click on a tag or title you can open that page in the right-sidebar
      • You can also left-click on a bullet point to open that in the sidebar as well.
    • The sidebar can be helpful for looking at multiple things at once, rather than jumping between documents – so you can more easily follow tangents an “roam” around in your ideas, without losing your place.
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Hey, glad to see this thread!

I’ve also been trying out Roam and although it isn’t very polished, I definitely think its onto something new and important treating notes as a graph instead of a hierarchy and automation. I believe this is the paradigm that makes these features really intuitive and frictionless.

These are the features that have stood out to me. I would love to see more cross-pollination from other outliners, but I haven’t seen them implemented the same way anywhere else:

  • Backlinks
  • Page Sidebar (This is not a list of notes or pages sidebar that is present in most note-taking apps. I think this could be extended to just be tabs like a text editor)
  • Automatic page creation based on links
  • Automatic reference aggregation based on heading level references
  • Automatic link updates e.g if you change the page title it changes all linked references on all pages!

I love Dynalist and I’d be curious to hear if any of these features are in the pipeline or could be… or can’t be done.

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The backlinking setup is a good idea even for a more traditional hierarchical app like this, makes it easier to cross-pollinate pages and eg. build bibliography files (which is something I’ve been looking for for ages, to link authors and their writing together easily)

What I like most about Roam is that I can write almost anything and not have to organize the information. If I tag or link the subject(s) it’s complete. This gives me a lot of confidence in the system that I won’t lose or in frustration search for relevant notes. I don’t feel it is a trendy new feature. It’s a critical missing element in all note solutions.

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Wow I’ve found another one that follows a very similar knowledge representation model to Roam (graph with easy way to crete and connect concepts, backlinks, transclusion, etc). But it also has spaced-repetition model (autogenerating cards from your knowledge graph) on top of that: https://www.remnote.io

UX is kind of clunky though.

There was a discussion on the Tinderbox forum around a report that the owner of Roam was looking at pricing the product at $30/month or $10,000 lifetime subscription. (That’s not a typo.)

:scream:

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