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

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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I have been trying Roam Research, and would like to import my journal entries from Dynalist into Roam, though I have a problem with the formatting of my notes prior to export.

The current set-up is


- Date
		-sub entry
		-sub entry

- Date
		-sub entry
		-sub entry

So when the files are exported, it is one large file rather than separated by date. I would like to have each entry to be split by date (much like the daily notes section of roam).

Can someone please advise on a workaround for this :slight_smile:

Thank you!

Small peek into the future: To combine the strengths of dynalist and roam I consider implementing a two way sync when roam publishes their api.

This for instance allows me to keep using my quick dynalist app and other awesome dynalist benefits.


So now that Dynalist has backlinks, is there anything compelling about Roam anymore?

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  • transclusions (cloning nodes in multiple locations)
  • semantic tagging : extract any portion of a text into a new node
  • kanban boards
  • split view / side by side view
  • mermaid diagrams support
  • graph view
  • hiccup/html embeds
  • you can make [[[[complex]] [[links]] to connect nodes/[[pages]]]]
  • hover popup previews
    I still love Dynalist but Roam and Remnote are moving faster

Agree that Remnote has more of what I want, but for me it is confusing and unintuitive. In addition it has no backups to Google drive/onedrive/dropbox.

Just a personal opinion to add to the conversion:

I have tried RR twice now. Back in 2019 and last two weeks.

I just cannot organize my life with it. I have learned that I think heavily in hierarchical way. Roam’s interconnected and linked structure makes me feel chaotic and anxious.

I just love the way Dynalist reveals hierarchical structure when I click certain tag. I can instantly see how that tagged content relates to everything else.

I also found out that I mainly use Dynalist to organize and project manage my life. I have no need to research and create content or create overall knowledge management system.

Minor detail: I just love the feeling when I check an item as done and it disappears from Dynalist. One task done. In RR this is not possible (or maybe using some complex filter script etc).

I just wanted to give voice to a counter-opinion in middle of this “RR is going to own the market” talk :slight_smile:


Hi Louis, I was wondering if you were still contemplating that, and if you have any timeline in mind. As you well know, I am a Quick_dynalist worshipper, and being able to use quick_dynalist for projects / task management and do second brain building in roam would be having the best of both worlds.

@Alain_Crawford I was not granted access to the Api yet. But if I do get access it would most likely be a project over Christmas.

What about adapting Quick Dynalist into Quick Roam? Its open source, though it doesn’t have a license on Github IIRC.

I was thinking into using that as an excuse to learn native Android programming (been doing React Native for years without going on the native space).

A few moments later…

Just noticed that Louis is the author - might as well ask if you would be ok with something like that?

Sure, that is also an option.
Yes I’ve been putting the licensing off.
I’m quite liberal in terms of what you do with the sources. I think the only problem is if people start uploading it to Google play and it becomes confusing to the user in terms of what to download.
What license do you suggest?

So yes, please go ahead and develop Quick Roam if you feel like it!

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How did that work out? :slightly_smiling_face:

I’ve been using Roam for a year now. It’s a wild ride. I tend to be interested in learning new tricks, so that’s OK for me. But Dynalist is certainly a much more stable platform and basic knowledge work.

What are the three biggest pros and cons with regards to Dynalist, Workflowy and Remnote?

You forgot checkvist,, transno, and the other 478 new outliners that come out each week on

Workflowy and Dynalist are very similar. Dynalist has a powerful API, calendar sync, custom css, custom hotkeys, file upload. Workflowy has sharing permissions by node, mirror nodes. Those are the only two I like. The others have a lot of annoyances.

Yeah I know. :slight_smile: I listed what I think are the top contenders at the moment.