Why I Switched: A deep dive into Roam vs. Obsidian

6000 words discussing the differences and why you might choose one over the other

Photo by Lysander Yuen on Unsplash

Table of Contents

My Note-taking Background

It Took Some Time

You can easily adjust the keybindings for any of the shortcuts available in Obsidian

Plain Text Files + Local Storage = Future-Proof


No account sign in is even necessary to use Obsidian.

Data Loss

It’s Beautiful

Community themes are available for selection directly from within Obsidian. It’s as easy as clicking a button.
The developer window can be accessed for Obsidian and can be used to select any part of the application to determine the CSS code needed to modify.

Plug-in Methodology

Backlinks, Linked Mentions, Unlinked Mentions and Tagging

Block Structure

A excerpt from the Roam White Pages, showing the linked references for [[Roam Demo Video]]. You can see that the nested blocks are also shown alongside the backlinks, providing additional context. Notes that are higher level than the block of interest are also shown, but in breadcrumb view. These breadcrumbs are also clickable links. Every link is capable of being filtered.
Top right panel shows the automatically generated backlink and the nearby text, providing some context to the link
You can click the “show more context” button to provide additional surrounding text, though this is not the same a delivering nested relationships as is seen in Roam-delivered backlinks

Block References

Note Outline, Tag Panel and Pinning Panels

Outline panel can be seen in the bottom right corner. Each line in the outline is a link that will take you directly to that section of the page.
The local graph panel is pinned to the bottom right sidebar. As you navigate between notes, the local graph view will change to reflect the connections of each note automatically

Boolean Search

This is what the returned search looks like
The numbers to the right of the page title shows how many times one of the search criteria was met. Clicking the “… and 2 more matches” expands the findings to demonstrate the context in which the words/hashtags were found on the page
This query is not possible in Roam, for instance, without placing all links and tags on the same block. In Obsidian, this search would be no issue at all, since it parses the entire page and not individual blocks.

The Graph View

There is a lot you can do with the graph in Obsidian.
Demonstrating a Boolean search of the graph view, while also showing the same boolean search in the regular search box to demonstrate both yielding the same two page results. The search here is looking for any page in my Vault that has both the hashtag learning as well as the word genius somewhere on the page.
The only feature available to graph view in Roam is to exclude daily notes

The Developers

You can see how frequently updates are coming out for Obsidian and how easily accessible all changes are for viewing by the community.

The Community



A would-be writer, trying my hand. Interested in tools for thought and the anti-productivity movement.

A would-be writer, trying my hand. Interested in tools for thought and the anti-productivity movement.