Question

Do you use Roam's extra features (kanban boards, timers, diagrams, and more), or do you only use its core notes and linking features?

Curious about something: If you use Roam Research as your primary notes/writing app, do you also use its extra features such as kanban boards, timers, and more? It feels like features like that are one of the main reasons people mention for liking Notion (and its actual notes features possibly are secondary), whereas with Roam it feels like the notes/linking/writing features are the core appeal, and the extra features are secondary.

How does it feel to you? Would you like Roam less if it didn't have all the extra features? Is its notes and wiki linking the only real reason you use it?

Mentioned
#Roam Research #Notes #Notion
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JoshAJHall's avatar
2 years ago

I've been figuring out my Roam workflow for a while. Initially I was excited by the idea of potentially doing everything (task management as well as knowledge management, essentially) in one place. But the more I use it the more I want to keep it purely as a knowledge management solution, and use Notion and a couple of other tools for projects/tasks/etc. Which is a longwinded way of saying that I am increasingly only using Roam's basic features.

I also started investigating Obsidian properly yesterday, and am keen to migrate from Roam to Obsidian if I can. Ownership over my data is the clincher for me I think.

4 points
jpmartin's avatar
@jpmartin (replying to @JoshAJHall )
almost 2 years ago

Have you used Bear? Unfortunately its only on the Mac ecosystem. But they've done a a really good job. I've been using it since it was launched. I don't know for some reason I keep going back to it. Tagging system is more than enough for me.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @jpmartin )
almost 2 years ago

@jpmartin Bear has wiki-stye links too, which gets it at least halfway there in being an Obsidian/Roam competitor (and it seems likely other writing apps will end up getting wiki links going forward).

What makes Bear the writing app you keep going back to?

1 point
jpmartin's avatar
@jpmartin (replying to @maguay )
almost 2 years ago

What makes Bear the writing app you keep going back to?

Fast loading. No lag when using.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @JoshAJHall )
2 years ago

@JoshAJHall Interesting to hear! I've found Notion best for the "doing everything in one place" stuff, with roam being better for text notes—and wanted to see if I was alone there.

I do need to give Obsidian another shot, and am intrigued that iA Writer might get wiki linking after their founder hinted at that in an interview. That would be my ideal wiki linked notes app since it's already where I draft most of my ideas.

1 point
unxrlm's avatar
@unxrlm (replying to @maguay )
2 years ago

I agree that Notion is better positioned to do everything in one place. Where struggled with Notion the most was notetaking and knowledge management which is about 90%, if not more, of my personal use case.

What Notion allow in addition was the strong databases for movies, reading material, or project management.

On the later topic, I still do my "task" management in Roam. So where I write my notes is also where I write my action items and Roam manages that very easily. If I had a larger project to manage, wanted tables and task assignments, Notion would be much better. The same for a collaborative type wiki space.

I think although people pin them head and to head a lot and they appeal to the same user base, they will slowly develop their own use cases.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @unxrlm )
2 years ago

Great point: Roam (or most text editors) can be perfect for personal tasks and more loosely organized lists, where kanban boards and more detailed project management is often more needed for teams so everyone understands where everything is at.

And while Notion's backlinking is far more basic than Roam's, it might make more sense for a team wiki where Roam's more detailed backlinks could get messy fast in a team where everyone would have slight different ideas on what to link.

2 points
unxrlm's avatar
2 years ago

I do think the more powerful feature of Roam is the notetaking and linking. The backlinking gives you the flexibility of taking your notes on your daily page while having them show in a given context. Roam is adding additional features like Kanban boards and more but IMO, they still have this afterthought feel. For a quick simple board, it may be enough, I can't imagine myself doing a larger project in Roam.

Notion's free form notetaking was a lot more challenging for me and over time, notes would end-up scattered in various pages. Notion's true strength was the ability to build usable databases quickly. Notion recently added backlinking but again, it feels like a bit of an afterthought. It may be enough for someone who was missing backlinks in a few simple use cases but it won't be enough to convert someone immersed in the Roam workflow IMO.

4 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @unxrlm )
2 years ago

@unxrlm Agreed, it does feel like the kanban boards and more are an afterthought, compared especially to Notion where they almost feel like they've been more deeply thought out than the core notes experience. And yeah, same on Notion's backlinking where it feels tacked on.

Maybe this will prove the merit of apps focused on a specific task versus being "jack of all trades."

1 point
Oshyan's avatar
almost 2 years ago

Roam's "extra" features seem to be mostly Conor's random explorations into whatever functionality he thinks is interesting/cool/desirable at the time. This means they are often incomplete, and may never be completed. I would never rely on anything but the core functionality for this reason alone, aside from the fact that - as I said - the functionality in these additional features is also generally incomplete. Unlike Notion, where the value proposition is "everything in one flexible app", Roam's proposition is more vague and doesn't seem to promise that any of the features like task management, etc. will ever be taken seriously.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @Oshyan )
almost 2 years ago

I feel like anything tied directly to notes/wikis (so the core backlinking and block embed obviously, along with the graph, things like to-do formatting and date references, generally anything in the / menu today) is there for the long haul, as is the roam/js support that lets devs build their own extra features into Roam. If anything, I'd expect to see support for the latter increased and made more official, and then the other "extra" features end up being outsourced of sorts to the ecosystem for devs who are more passionate about those specific features.

I was chatting with someone recently about how Notion can be used by people who aren't really good at writing notes but use Notion for all the other features, especially databases/project management boards. Where in Roam, it feels like if you don't use the outlining/notes/wiki linking features, there's no solid reason to use Roam.

3 points
Oshyan's avatar
@Oshyan (replying to @maguay )
almost 2 years ago

I mostly agree with all that. It's funny to me that the pomo timer is in the / menu though. It seems so incongruous there with everything else. Do we expect to see that remain a "core" feature, say, 2-3 years from now?

Roam/js may stay, but with a proper API coming, it may not be necessary for that much longer. The API should be cleaner, more maintainable, more powerful, and safer and more secure. Roam/js is a radically powerful idea for how simple it is, but the reason it doesn't exist in other apps is not so much that they didn't think of it or couldn't implement it; it's that it's a massive security risk and few serious software providers are going to allow that kind of thing in their app. Part of Roam's odd appeal to many is the "wild wild west" nature of it, so freedom to do that sort of thing goes along with, to some degree. But as Roam tries to become more legitimate and more of a tool that businesses will use, it will likely run into security concerns quickly with its current extensibility model.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @Oshyan )
almost 2 years ago

Oh great point—both the Roam and Notion APIs coming out should see a ton of unique new note automations over the coming year!

2 points
kerriececil's avatar
almost 2 years ago

I watched a lot of YouTube videos when I started using Roam.

I recommend taking the time to try these tips in order to customize Roam to suit your needs, I didn't find it to be intuitive when logging as a new user. What appeals to me is it feels like a blank slate, but it's not difficult to organize and create functional, easy to modify links and navigation strategies.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @kerriececil )
almost 2 years ago

Thanks for sharing! As you've started using Roam more, have you found yourself using more of its features like kanban boards, or do you mostly use its core outlining, linking, and writing features?

1 point
damianesteban's avatar
almost 2 years ago

I have had issues adapting my workflow to jive with Roam Research, something just isn't clicking. Last week I started making use of Kanban boards in Roam and I like the structure they bring to task management.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @damianesteban )
almost 2 years ago

Interesting. What do you like about Roam so far? Do you think the kanban boards will make the difference, or think you may end up switching to another tool for notes and planning?

1 point
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