I’ve used Dynalist heavily for a few years now as a “second brain”. I use it for my personal tasks and project management, for knowledge management and note-taking, and for things like packing lists and shopping lists.
I’ve recently been experimenting with Roam for some pieces of that. My take right now: Dynalist is a much more mature and polished product. It will take Roam a while to catch up both on general UI polish and overall feature set. There are, however, a couple of things that Roam really gets right - so much so that it may be worth it to me to switch my whole setup over.
Backlinks have been the focus of this discussion, so I won’t go on about them except to say that they really do free you from hierarchy in the way people have said.
Transclusion is a much bigger deal, I think. See this little clip for example:
Being able to pull up a chunk of an outline from anywhere else and include it right where you are, turns out to be super useful. So for example I can reference an individual task in multiple places, pull up a quote or a piece of boilerplate from somewhere else, etc. Not only that but there’s a whole query syntax that allows you to transclude a specific search, like “all incomplete tasks with X label but not with Y label.”
Daily pages are your initial point of entry, and that turns out to be a very useful setup. I was previously doing a daily braindump/journal in text files. Having that process integrated with my todos and everything else is really handy.
The sidebar (shift-click on something to open it on the side instead of the main area) seemed like kind of a silly thing, until I started using it. Being able to see multiple pages at once, and drag things between them (or shift-drag to transclude!) turns out to be extremely convenient.
Attributes let you add semi-structured data to items; so for example if I could make a list of air conditioners along with their prices and features, and then query that information elsewhere in different ways. I haven’t found a real use for this yet, but it’s intriguing and hints at some really interesting visualization and automation scenarios.
As for what this means for Dynalist: It might make sense to steal some of Roam’s features. (And there’s certainly no shame in that!) However, I think @Erica is right to be cautious about bolting on a bunch of me-too features onto a product that’s successful, in part, because of its simplicity. I like the idea of standing up a separate product that’s built from the ground up for the knowledge-management use case.