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

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:


@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


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.

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.


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.


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:

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.)


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I agree. Dynalist is so far ahead of the competiotion.

Agree. Deeplinking or crossreferences or backlinking would be super usefull. For the time being the best workaround is using tags intentionally.

See my post here: Tag structure for Dynalist (GTD , Zettelkasten and SecondBrain )


Pricing isnt set in stone. The founder also mentioned that beta users will not pay full price if they create an account before the official launch. I would love to see Dynalist add backlinks feature like Roam has.


The wiki style creation of pages, using square brackets, is cool, of course. What’s super powerful in Roam Research is:

  • No need to figure out where that page goes: it just “is”
  • The page created for a term automatically shows all references to that page which are explicitly linked but also unlinked references
    • those unlinked references can be turned into linked references at the click of a button, one by one or one click for all
  • Page titles can be changed and the wording of the links will automatically update

Those are killer features for a knowledge system.

It would be feasible to do similar manually in Dynalist, or for Dynalist to add features like this. “Hardest” would be dealing with the document space. New entries created by square bracket use would have to live in a sort of “new pages” document. People can leave them there. Of course once a user would move the page the links would break as we’re not really using words as the GUID but real GUID’s.

As for the price point: $30 USD is a lot of money. It’s more than a software + sync services subscription to TheBrain, which has been around forever. The founder really believes Roam brings so much value that it would merit that price point, even though he keeps the door open to possible changes.


New discussion on Hacker News

The above post lead to me searching for “roam vs dynalist”, which brought me here. I think the most appealing feature Roam has is that you can freely create pages without thinking about where they belong in the hierarchy. It would be great if Dynalist could support something like this where pages can live in a mesh outside of the normal hierarchy. There could also be some kind of graph view that displays this mesh, but that’s could come later (or never).


I want to pile onto the observations that others have about the value of the bidirectional links feature. To me, this is all about the creation / encouragement of serendipitous links between bits of knowledge. This is my #1 value-add in my job, and I would love to have a tool that would help me amplify this.

I would seriously consider switching to gain this feature - to me, it’s way more useful to me than most (all?) of the recent features that have been added to Dynalist put together. This would be a hard feature to add into Dynalist without seriously disrupting what makes Dynalist unique and powerful in its space. Hello, innovator’s dilemma :wink:

What do others think? How valuable are bi-directional links to you?


I agree it would be a boon to Dynalist. I used it a lot with NoteStudio before that app was closed down. It would make Dynalist a perfect research tool.

I struggle to understand what’s going on in that video. I think it’s a very poor example because the effect of clicking on that link is the same as clicking on the bullet in DynaList.

I think the notion is that [[Thing]] is more like in DynaList #Tag, and clicking on [[Thing]] is just the same as clicking on the tag in DynaList. But the interaction is different. Clicking on a link in Roam switches you to the other link. Clicking on a tag when you already have a tag selected in DynaList adds the tag to the filter. You would need to edit and remove the previous tag to get the same effect of navigating. One other detail: Because it’s bracketed, Roam lets you have full text inside the brackets, but tags are not allowed spaces.

If it’s something else than this, please explain.

Even if my explanation is indeed different, it might still be a great way DynaList could do similar, without “seriously disrupting” the nature of DynaList.

Whilst we’re on the topic of bi-directional linking, here’s the Dynalist feature request thread.

Please go there and add your votes!

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Yes, we definitely see the innovator’s dilemma here.

Dynalist had [[ links before Roam Research started (we introduced it in April 2016), and we had always wanted to go deeper in that direction. But like you pointed out, if we want to introduce it now, it has to be non-disruptive to current Dynalist users. We’re well aware not all Dynalist users need it.

Right now our consideration is to make the bottom “references” area only show when you turn on an option, plus providing a convenience utility to find out how many places linked to this node.

Still, this only applies to links to full nodes, not [[text segment]]. But since [[text segment]] doesn’t do anything at all right now, we can hook it up to global search, which will search for all occurrences of exactly [[text segment]] (linked occurrences) and in another section results for text segment (unlinked occurrences).