Obsidian is my chef’s kitchen of choice. I like owning my files. I like the app. I like the community. It’s a great place to cook a delicious steak dinner. And it’s what I’d like to be using for everything, permanently.
However, I’m not often at my desk these days. Which means I have to use 1writer A LOT if I want Obsidian to work. And using 1writer with my Obsidian data is like cooking a steak dinner on a hotplate. It’s a HUGE bummer. As an app 1writer is … fine? The same way that driving an old prius is fine. It’s underpowered, but it’ll get you from A>B. It’s not pretty, but it’s not ugly. It’s not a joy to use by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just…fine.
Because of this, I’ve been trying out Roam as a daily driver for a couple of days.
Roam refugees often cite the price and the cult as reasons they left. But what about the product?
I wanted to see if the trade-off in functionality is worth it. How big of a difference do Roam’s power features make? Here’s what I’ve observed so far…
First of all, I hate that Roam is a web app. Being web only comes with so many disadvantages that I can’t (won’t) list them all here. Web apps have always been a deal breaker for me, until Roam. (however, to be fair, Electron has always been a dealbreaker, until Obsidian).
But being a web app also means it’s available everywhere, on everything that I use. It’s not perfect, it freezes on my phone occasionally, but it’s good enough to be better than nothing.
Block referencing has been great for easily pulling together outlines for class lectures from many different sources and notes. I also like the ability to create a page out of a tag, so that it’s possible to have blocks tagged with something like “thoughts” that are then automatically available on a “page” called “thoughts.”
The browser extensions are OK. Safari is my main browser because it does a great job of working across all of my devices. Roam mostly works in Safari, but works much better in Chrome (evil) and Firefox (fine but it’s an island). I’m not switching my browser for Roam. That leaves me with having to bounce back and forth between browsers in one way or another. And because I don’t use Chrome as my main browser (because it’s a nightmare), all of the browser extensions are not super helpful.
And yes, some parts of the community freak me out. Like a silicon valley Stepford community.
Obsidian is where I intend to land full time. I keep saying that I’ll move when there’s a better mobile/ipad experience. Roam is a great product, but my conscience is irked by using it and there’s always the chance that I move back sooner than I plan to.
For the Roam Refugees in the house, How was your move? Have you had to change your workflow? Were you using Roams power features, like block references, and if so, has that made a big difference in how you do your work? How much of a pain will it be to move after amassing a medium to large graph?
And most importantly, if Roam was free, would you have moved?