Is Roam Research Worth It?

Got comments?

Probably not, if you ask my opinion. Whether you like it or not, Roam is a glorified outliner, similar to Dynalist or Workflowy. It may work for you as a preliminary research tool, and in brainstorming sessions. Ultimately, your thoughts might need to go into a full-page written form. This is where I start to feel that an outliner doubles the work for me. I write a lot, especially using Markdown. This is why a knowledge database application that supports linking between pages, but allows me to express myself in free text is ideal for my purposes. Oh, yeah, one with a great search too!

There are good examples out there. Take Bear, for instance. If all you want to do is collect and organize Markdown notes over time, it is just right fo you.

If you need more variety in the type of notes, you can check out Evernote or Notion. Either supports linking across notes, insertion of media and tables. In my opinion, Notion goes even further with its idea of blocks. Each paragraph is essentially a block that can have a different presentation (quote, code block, call out, etc) and those can link to each other across pages. Pretty rad.

Last but not least, if Roam's backlinks and graphs have stuck into your head, you might want to check out Obsidian. Fairly new and developed by the team behind Dynalist, Obsidian brings in the cool features that made Roam Research popular, but replaces the outliner with simple Markdown files. When I say Markdown files, I mean it. They are literally stored on your files system, so you get to decide how (or whether) to sync the across (iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc).