Roam Research: A note-taking tool for networked thought

Roam Research is basically a fancy wiki, but, it is VERY fancy with automatic reverse linking. It is one of the few tools after a few days of using it, I knew I would never go back. It is incredible and for reasons, I can’t exactly put my finger on I think some on this community would really love it.


I agree, the whole back-linking discovery is great to generate new insight between unrelated notes.

Worth mentioning Org Roam which is an Emacs Mode that offers most of the features on top of Org Mode.

Benefits over Roam Research:

  • free and open source
  • notes are stored as plain text files on your drive, so you’re 100% in control and they won’t go away if Roam Research decide to shut down after a few years (the extension transparently maintain a SQLite db at the same time, so if SQL is your thing, you’re also covered)
  • full editing expressiveness of Emacs (and therefore Vim if you use Evil bindings)

I’d be keen in trying something similar for Kakoune.

Roam has the idea of sort of – individual pieces of info at the bullet level so when I put on my December 31st notes page: [[Delapouite]] lives in [[New York City]] – that single piece of data shows up on both the [[Delapouite]] page and the [[New York City]] page. The breaking of data down to the sort of like atomic level and the linking has massive value.

I love roam research, but I also hope for a great open source clone to de-risk it. Also, works great from mobile browser, so it is a great phone app too.

So it kind of automatically greps for \[\[.*?]] and shows all references at the bottom? And making it easy to create a new page? Looks pretty powerful and conceptually easy to replicate.

@danr basically – nothing in it is super-unique. I had a very similar system in 2001/2002 for a corporate wiki that we loved.

Roam is just an exceptionally polished implementation that focused on time to new “point of data” and keeping “points of data” uniquely targettable (each bullet) rather than at the page level that most wikis are.

I really hope it is cloned because I fear them going out of business, but not enough to kick them $500 for the true believer package.

I stumbled across Roam the other day while researching the “Zettelkasten” idea. Other related software appears to include Obsidian (which stores notes locally as Markdown, instead of in the cloud), and Neuron (a command-line app that nicely a directory of Markdown files to a pretty website). Now that I’ve learned a bit more about it, I think that my kakoune-ghwiki plugin was beginning to scratch at the same idea.

As a commercial project, probably nothing will approach the polish of Roam except for other commercial projects. If you’re willing to lower your standards a bit, though, I think you’ll find a bunch of options along the spectrum to “super-modular, minimal lock-in”.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Roam but never got around to trying it. I wish there was a modern version of Notational Velocity, that was a universal app. im aware of NVAlt but even that is pretty dated, and not universal

Yeah, I have poked around a few other options – the sad thing is the polish is so important for daily use – so many of the little things about Roam work so well it is hard to give up. For example, page renames properly go everywhere, so no fear of renaming, which was one of the biggest problems with wikis. Even reworking single datapoints which are referenced very cleanly update the references to them. A lot of this is due to the graph DB underpinning.

I am happily paying the $15 a month, but my loyalty is non-existent, I just need a tool that makes entry very quick – a few months into Roam and I am coming up on 1,000 pages because the entry process is extremely easy.

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Honourable mention for tiddlywiki which works well with the Zettelkasten method. I have it running on a Raspberry Pi so I can access it from multiple devices and back it up to a NAS. It’s open source and files are saved in markdown (though slightly strange dialect of it). Probably needs more tweaking than the commercial alternatives though.

One of the more interesting (and elaborate) examples is h0p3’s.

I would like to mention zettlr:

It has backlinking and Zettelkasten as well as being free and open source. It dosen’t look like it supports syncing, though. I haven’t really had a chance to use it but it looks pretty interesting.

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@PreciousChicken I have such fond memories of tiddlywiki – it was one of the things that got me down this rabbit hole many years ago.

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Ah so you tried tiddlywiki before settling on Roam.

Roam looks great. But I was too worried about vendor lock in. Plus tiddlywiki was a solution I could use vim with, rather than having to go through a browser / app.

Good luck with it.

2 posts were split to a new topic: Nb: a command line note-taking, bookmarking, archiving, and knowledge base

This logseq might be a viable alternative: GitHub - logseq/logseq: A privacy-first, open-source(frontend now, backend later) platform for knowledge sharing and management. Desktop app download link:, roadmap:

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I’m using TiddlyWiki as personal wiki right now (NodeJS version on private server). I have a krystal plugin installed. It gives you a similar look & feel to the Evergreen notes. Roam-like Tw distributions are Drift, Stroll and TiddlyRoam.

I don’t enjoy using TiddlyWiki anymore. It does not scale well. Mine is already ~6mb (2mb compressed) and I’m using only since 2020-06. That’s 2+mb non-cacheable load every time I’m visiting my wiki. Performance is bad, especially if you are using a graph or full text search extension (or a lot of dynamic queries). Exporting tiddlers to HTML is overcomplicated. My initial idea was to use a subset of notes to generate my website, but I never managed to produce anything usable.

Notes are in plain-text format (good) but it’s not Markdown or any other widely used markup (bad).

I used to use TW for work related notes as well. I replaced it with LogSeq (for now). It’s more interactive and has less clunky interface. It’s still young (read: buggy) project. Since it’s build similarly to TiddlyWiki (all data in memory all the time) I believe it won’t work in a long run as well. My goal is to replace both wikis with something else. Most likely I’ll write something tailored for my needs from scratch.

When it comes to Roam: Putting a personal wiki inside a proprietary SaaS app seems like a bad idea.

It is – but it is the least bad. I have been keeping digital personal notes for – two decades about. I have about 13000+ pages of data, been imported and exported through generations of systems. In the past, it additionally had 5500+ links and cached copies of those pages, moved to with the archiving option.

The experience I would like back is the old Evernote experience with page clipping and notes at small scale. Sadly, Evernote scaled horribly and was incredibly buggy, but being able to have as rich or simple interlinked documents as I want from web content or not via a web plugin was fantastic.

I have gone through dozens of systems, paid and free, and thus far, Roam Research is the one that makes me the least angry.

My dream system would be open-source, graph-based, have FTS with faceting, intrapage linking (to datum, like Roam), have chrome and firefox plugins for web snipping, and have email sending to it…

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Wow! I have the same sort of system - and the same problems!

A durable, open-source platform for my massive notes collection would definitely be welcome, but if Roam does appeal to me then I reckon I can try it out while keeping my notes backed up in other places.

I’ve wanted to do the work on my own personal platform for a long, long time.

There’s also another tool that is worth mentioning, GitHub - Kinneyzhang/gkroam: A lightweight roam replica on top of emacs org-mode. which i think is more faithful to the features of roam research.
I’d love to see this feature on kak too.

Thanks ! I’ll have a look. What I enjoy with org-roam since v2 in the tight integration with GitHub - org-roam/org-roam-ui: A graphical frontend for exploring your org-roam Zettelkasten which is valuable tool to investigate your knowledge graph.

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