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

Conor from Roam here.

Fwiw - I think one of the main things folks are missing is that we really lean on heirarchy as well.

In the backlinks section of each page, you see the hirarchy of each reference, and can use ALL the the other [[links and tags]] to filter for the subset/intersection of back-link references you’re interested in.

This is really enlightening conversation. Cool to see a bunch of familiar faces and see how you first heard about Roam.


We officially announced pricing last night

Currently only Pro Plan (15/m, 165/y) or Believer Plan (500/5years. 8.33/m)… since we have huge waitlist and want to scale customer support team before having freemium.

Turns out was much bigger initial audience for tool - we thought we’d have to stay bunkered down with smaller professional knowledge worker base for first year to build sustainable company – which is why early ideas of pricing were higher.

Goal has always been to build a thinking tool for everyone, but wider the audience the more polish you need to teach new paradigm.

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We officially announced pricing last night

Currently only Pro Plan (15/m, 165/y) or Believer Plan (500/5years. 8.33/m)… since we have huge waitlist and want to scale customer support team before having freemium.

You should be good for that Dynalist Pro subscription now Conor :wink:
Can strongly recommend it :+1:

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totes, and nice to see you here. The key distinction for me is that everything until Roam forced every piece of work to exist in a single location. Roam lets me color outside those lines so I can embrace the good parts of hierarchy without being bound by it.

Well yesterday I finally got access to Roam and I have to admit after one day of use it was mind blowing. The sidebar (ahhh split screen as we would say here in dynaland) is a very efficient way to work when working on multiple documents or sections of a node. Really brilliant how they made it possible to have multiple documents visible in side bar.

I never understood the use of the backlink. Now I all I can say… I am not sure I can live with out it. The ability to interlink thoughts is very powerful.

Block referencing (aka transclusion in dynaland language) is as good as I imagined it would be. Totally reinvents the way you think about where data lives and is reused.

The ability to write a query in a node and have it renders content anywhere is an outliners time management dream come true.

So just a few features, and is a game changer.

Of course the price is outrageous. I can only hope the product rapidly improves. Missing some things (Outliner is inferior to Dynalist, the UI feels a little clunk, almost no UI configuration available without hacks, app documentation – or better said: what documentation? And no real central “user” community as we have here.

I didn’t want to write these thoughts, but after just a day of use, I rarely get this excited about a new piece of software and now understand why this thread is so long.

Frankly it makes me sad the team here didn’t combine the concept of Obsidian and Dynalist into a new tool. I think the Dynalist editor, along with the new knowledge and note taking capabilities of Obsidian would be very powerful competitor to Roam.


Agreed. But I still hope this is the plan down the line.


I have just joined on with Dynalist. I was looking at Roam. I will stay with Dynalist. I hope Dynalist maintains its updates but also does not try to get too complex. There is a market for the tool you have today that uses simplicity as an advantage. The prices should also be more appealing.

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This is a lot to read…I tried to skim for what Roam is but haven’t figured it out yet. They require your credit card info just to use a demo, which it fantastically dumb, but that’s another tangent.

I can’t find an explaination. Bidirectional relationships between nodes could mean any number of different things. Can someone explain like I’m 5 or show me a video?

I get what a tree and a graph are. It’s just heirarchal and nonheirarchal relationships.

But…you can literally hyperlink to any node from any node already in dynalist. Just becuase the underlying document is structured heirarchally doesn’t matter. You can write everything flat in a tree, or nested, whatever you want. And hyperlinks still work. So…dynalist is already “bi-directional” in functionality…just like the whole internets hyperlink graph is…so what’s Roam get you? You just lose the underlying tree? The tree you were already free to ignore? Sorry to ramble, just expressing my confusion, trying to wrap my mind around what they’re describing and thinking anyones gonna give their credit card over to.

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What are you saying child? The Emperor has no clothes on? :open_mouth:

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It’s hard to explain clearly. But I think it’s something like this

My Document

  • This
    • is [topic]
    • stuff
  • Here
    • is more [topic]

If I understand correctly, when you make the link [topic], it creates/finds the document [topic] and puts a back link in it.


  • is [topic]
  • is more [topic]

And these link back to the sources. I’m sure I got the details wrong, but the main is that your bullet point links to the Topic page, and when you’re there the same bullet point is found there and links back to your document.

Another way to put it is that in a normal hyperlink structure, links point from parent to child, but not from child to parent. But here, every page is a graph node and if there is a link from A to B, you see that link when you look at A, and you see that link when you look at B.

Thanks Piotr.

Alan - by your description is sounds like dynalist can already act exactly like this by coding [topic] as [topic](document#q=topic)

I already do this actually. I have a node of topics that are just links to searches.

If that’s the main “feature” of roam I’m not impressed :confused:

But I do think Dynalist should add a markdown for searches thats easier. like ?topic? or something.

Reading your post, BC, made me think of this article. Perhaps you may find it more helpful for evaluating some of these “referential linking” uniquenesses?

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The difference is your link is a search. Their link is an automatic generated editable document.

There’s no difference between search and an automatically generated editable document in dynalist though. I’m talking about a normal search, not flat search. The one where dynalist just filters down the document but otherwise it’s just as editable of a document.

You cant edit a search, rearrange and structure

Are we talking about the same thing here? Because I sure can. All of those things. The only thing search does to a document is the nonmatching nodes disappear. Otherwise, editing functions are identical to just a normally opened document. You are talking about the hotkey in the key map list that is called “Search in doc”, correct?

there’s actually a big difference between a simple search and automatic backlinking : searching is an action that you need to trigger, whereas backlinking is a relevant info that is passed to you on each page and updated automatically.
Each document will link all the other documents/blocks that are pointing to it, in context (a small excerpt of the backlink).

Backlinks usually go hand in hand with the concept of Transclusion : the inclusion of a note in another note, so you can re-use the same unit/atomic note in multiple places. Being instances, if you change one instance, they are all updated, reflecting the modification in multiples places simultaneously (in dynalist, it’s a long standing feature request that was labelled as 'cloning`).

Currently there is no way to emulate transclusions and baclinks in Dynalist. You can manually create 2 way links but it’s a very limited and time consuming process.

You should give it an actual try to fully realize these are game changing features.

If you don’t want to give your $ to Roam, I would recommend to get a feel of the workflow. RemNote is free and gets frequent updates, it’s fast and has a lot of nice features (auto creation of flashcards with spaced repetition, backlinks, etc…).

Other alternatives to consider are:

  • TiddlyWiki5 (it’s the best in terms of features and expandability via plugins, free and fast but steep learning curve. Readymade projects to look for : Stroll, Drift, TiddlyRoam, TiddlyBlink…)
  • (made by the Dynalist team . offline markdown editor/viewer. no outlining/ToC though)
  • (early stages, lacking in features but nice to test the worflow)
  • MindForger (markdown IDE with automatic links and outlining/ToC features)

Once you use it for a few days you see the power behind it. Words don’t do it justice. But it basically allows you to author a node in an outline, and then have that node sow up in a different document. But its not a shortcut, its live in both places. Roam allows you to control if that node is readonly or editable. So I may be doing research in once place, and I want that research to appear in a different document. When I update that text either in its origional place, or where it is appearing in its second place, its just one text being changed.

Backlinking is a different thing. It is like a tag you add to a node in an outline. But instead of searching on that tag, you have a document for that tag where anything that used that tag links to. Also it is a document, so it can have its own content.

It becomes a document with its own content, and shows you how all other content in your database links to it. In time, you begin to interconnect things that don’t seem connected and it forms new ways for you to think about your notes.

Again, you need to try it. Words fail. But my conclusion: Dynalist is a great document outliner. Transclusion allows us to stop thinking about documents, and rather about “Atoms” of data, small chunks for connecting, remixing and repurposing.

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I agree with your points, but I think there are some areas where Dynalist is still essential. Nodal platforms like Roam and Obsidian are good for overviews and can provide the dashboard for planning that Dynalist has lacked since PowerPack 3 stopped working. But Dynalist has great features for fine-grained work, such as checklists, move functions and keyboard shortcuts. It’s much easier to find something quickly in Dynalist. So at the moment, I need both at the same time: steering wheel and accelerator.

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