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Roam Research reaches $1m ARR in 6 weeks (indiehackers.com)
49 points by r_singh on July 28, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 38 comments

If anyone is looking for a free alternative to Roam for personal use, checkout Obsidian.md. It supports importing from Roam, has backlinks, graph view, custom themes and most importantly is super fast since it's a desktop application. It's built by the makers of Dynalist.


Yeah, I have to agree. I made the jump to Obsidian — the app is great!

Was on Dynalist, moved to Roam, and jumped to Obsidian without knowing it was the Dynalist team. Still on the transition; Obisdian's focus on document vs outline means I have to shape my notes more towards paragraphs instead of pointers and bullet points. Liking it so far, but still wishing I can have it on web instead of an app; I don't really care about offline capability, I need the backlink capability, and I like having multiple note views. That's most of it.

I was curious about your call-out about personal use, so I checked out the license. It reads as though 'personal use at work' might not be permitted without purchasing a license.

> If you use OBSIDIAN for work-related activities in a company with two (2) or more employees, you must obtain a commercial license.


Obsidian is also my choice. Loving the interface, carefully thought and developed functions + with an amazing community.

Zettlr is an open-source alternative [0]. It’s surprisingly feature-rich for a one-person project.

I’ve tried Obsidian, Roam Research, and others, but Zettlr is simply a much more complete piece of software.

In addition, the developer’s perspective on their work and complete belief in open-source, privacy, open standards, etc., is really heart-warming [1].

[0]: https://www.zettlr.com/

[1]: https://www.zettlr.com/post/why-zettlr-open-source

I have settled on Zettlr too and the tipping point was Zotero support. Since I'm still settling into it, I'm curious about Obsidian too.

Ultimately, it's not the tool itself, but the consistency with which I use it that had impact.

I keep trying to use Roam and Obsidian (rather than a more simple note taking app like Notable,) but I find that my more complex thoughts on topics, i.e the ones I would want to use this kind of software to record, is more often than not about external content such as PDFs or webpages. I know you can simply link files or urls inside markdown, but the integration seems a bit simplistic. I suppose some people will just copy and paste highlights, or extract notations, but something like Zotero seems hard to beat for my usage.

I’ve used Devonthink over things like Zotero because it seems to be focused on Professional research. Like I don’t care about the writer of a pdf or site enough for it to be the 2nd default column.

Devonthink looks cool, but can you explain why it's functionally better? Or is it just a better layout?

I don’t know. I’m not an academic. I’m gathering notes, web pages, mostly. I also gather videos and such. I assumed Zotero sort of things wouldn’t accommodate all that.

Keep hating on it or bringing up open source alternatives, but Roam is going places.

I don’t know how long the momentum keeps up, but it’s clear to me that Roam has captured a market segment that’s been mostly ignored by the bigger players who’ve focused on creating project management software.

It may not be for you or your company, but it is clearly resonating.

I would argue that the people signing up to Roam have a short-term outlook on their data when they shovel their words into a blackbox. Notes are the maybe the most important thing to have a fungible, exportable standard behind.

You can export all your notes as Markdown or JSON. Obsidian, for instance, even has a plugin to faciliate importing your Roam notes if you choose to migrate.

Unless something has changed, you're left with a bunch of unlinked Markdown notes. Those connections have to be relinked from scratch in whatever program the exportee then chooses. It sounds like Obsidian is offering a bespoke method of recreating these links, is that right?

Yes, Obsidian has a few options specifically geared towards importing Roam markdown: https://i.imgur.com/eDtRXSX.png

Any existing use of [[link]] style ones will work natively.

They have an option to download everything as json I believe.

I’m all for people being productive and all but most People jumping the Roam bandwagon are doing it as a fad. They’ll move to the next one that’s the note-taking-method du jour. Zettlekasten/Cornell notes/ Anki etc need a change in the user outlook rather than the tooling.

You can use/build all of these methods within Roam.

How can it be annual recurring revenue when they've only been going for six weeks and they have a 30 day free trial? Surely you need to know what their churn rate is going to be before you can consider it to be recurring?

It's a 2 week trial I believd

It's a bit confusing. Their T&Cs say 14 days, but their sign up page says "you'll be charged after 31 days"

I stopped using it once I discovered org-roam. It’s not a perfect replica, but manipulating text in a text editor is basic. Web based solutions can not compete, neither with speed nor the flexibility of an open source project, at least in Emacs’ ecosystem with org and everything else.

Most importantly offline first approach. My notes are stored on a NextCloud share so many backups and notes are searchable with ripgrep when looking for stuff not interlinked or tagged.

Also roam research used to mess up quite often until they built client side caching. Still very annoying and frustrating to have to look at the dot turning green or staying brown. Could have improved but they should offer a complete offline solution IMHO, at least for editing markdown in 3rd party tools and re syncing.

What's the main attraction of org-roam over org? I had a look at it, but didn't quite understand how to use it. Seemed as if it wanted one file per note.

It’s up to you. Make it work according to how you prefer to organize your notes. I dont follow the Zettelkasten system. I create notes per category or tag under which i can look for backlinks into related material. But otherwise I just use is to store everything, including lecture notes, vocabulary and full text of articles or lectures I consider important.

There’s a graph server that might be helpful but I never used it.

Another advantage being able to ripgrep through content for dirty searches.

The more content is there (not just links and pointers) the more likely it is you’ll surprise yourself finding links between different domains you’re interested in.

For me, word definitions in Arabic for example, tie into terminology used in articles I read in other languages, because I can use “aliases” to refer back to them.

The only thing missing for me is the ability to embed content. Ie have a paragraph embedded into the flow of other documents, which I can view or edit in either places.

I've been using Roam for about 6 months. The compelling thing about it is its simplicity... it hits a sweet spot of giving you some of that "Zettelkasten magic" without you having to learn much of anything. Just go ahead and note down some stuff on the "Daily Notes", and it becomes immediately useful.

The downside is that it's a bit too simple... After a while you'll probably want more features and I haven't seen them adding much in those six months. We'll have to see where it goes... they have a lot of competition! Seems there's more Zettelkasten software out there than there are Zettel in the average Kasten!

Another case of a blog post without explanation, context or link to the product in question. I really wish this practice wasn't as common as it is.

I am one of their paid customers.

Genuinely Roam is the note taking app I've been looking for all my life, it lets me dump the contents of my mind in a way that I know I'll be able to re-establish context easily when I come back to the notes.

I'm happy to support them purely out of a wish to see how they can keep improving it.

Considering the constant hype I encounter for this online, not so surprising. Perhaps the clear lead from the plethora[0] of similar software? Though Obsidian seems to be getting more popular.

I recall reading about some privacy policies issues a while back [1], I wonder if anything has changed.

[0] https://www.notion.so/db13644f08144495ad9877f217a161a1?v=ff6...

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21849239

Obsidian has just been better, more thought out it seems, more intuitive.

At the very least it's inspiring that people are willing to pay up front for this. To me, it seems like a powerful system, but one that could be built into my favourite note taking app Bear for example. I'm probably not so in need of this that I'd pay for it ln an ongoing basis, and so it probably wouldn't occur to me to charge like that for it.

I love Bear, and would pay them more than twice as much as I do if they had an Android app as well.

I'd love an Android app, and would probably pay recurring for it. Don't take many notes on my phone, but just having read access would be something.

Isn’t Bear a paid app too?

It's paid for sync. I paid for it when I needed it but not anymore

This is great news and inspiring. Must be one of the most popular web applications that is written in clojurescript(at least that's what I assumed it is written in, purely based on how to html looks like)

Isn't this just a skin over org-mode?

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