Obsidian and RoamResearch

Hello, although imho Scrivener is close to perfection for crafting manuscripts, I need some software for collecting snippets, researching and long term notes storage. Indeed, I have tried several alternatives during the years (Evernote, EagleFiler, DevonThink, Omnifocus) but none yield nice results when it come to fuzzy logic and AI. Recently I have discovered two alternatives: Roam research (https://roamresearch.com) and Obsidian( https://obsidian.md). Any advice? How do they compare to Tinderbox?
TIA and my apologies for the non-native English flaws…

One of the main features of Roam seems to be that it relies heavily on transclusion https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transclusion. I tried it for a couple of days, and though I found it fascinating, I would not consider it for normal use. For one thing, all your information is stored in the cloud, not locally, which for me rules it out from the start. Another discouraging factor is that when pricing was announced it was going to be very expensive.

I have not yet used Obsidian, but have downloaded it to experiment with it.

Tinderbox is a very different sort of program. Although you can use it as a snippet keeper, that would not do justice to it. In my view it is really a tool for analysing your material. If you learn how to use its tools (and it is not at all easy to get to grips with) it is good for showing up patterns and associations in your material, for thinking about your material, and presenting it in various different ways. A remarkable tool, and unique in what it will do (in my experience) but also somewhat mystifying. Those who start with it often seem to feel a sense of disorientation because it does not work like other programs, and they have to abandon a lot of assumptions and preconceptions before they can get much out of it.

For a very long time I used nvALT as my snippet collector, and I never really found anything to replace it (though I believe it still works on present operating systems – it is just not being maintained now.

There are lots of other candidates: Curiota, FSNotes, Apple’s own Notes program, and probably loads more that you can find by trawling the net. Best to experiment and find what suits you.

DevonThink is my long term notes and research repository.

I’m currently using a mix of Tinderbox, Agenda, and Scrivener for snippet collection.

What exactly are you trying to accomplish with AI? DevonThink has a pretty decent ability to find “things like this,” but making the kinds of connections that humans do is a very hard problem that as far as I know no one has solved.


Not even humans are very good at it at times :wink:

Recovering information. Hierarchical systems just don’t work for me, tags are cumbersome, The network metaphor seems to work better.

It sounds as if Tinderbox might work for you. Making associations is what the program is all about. But you have to be prepared to put in some work to learn the program. There is a VERY helpful forum and some nice videos by Dominique Renauld and Beck Tench. Worth looking at those to see what can be done and how. The program is very very flexible so there are often different ways to accomplish things.

Edit: here is a list of Dominique Renauld videos - http://forum.eastgate.com/t/dominique-renauld-video-tutorials/21
The one on exporting from Tinderbox to Scrivener may be of special interest https://vimeo.com/161019693
And Beck Tench: https://www.becktench.com/blog/tag/tinderbox

Lots of software tools will help you build a network and retrieve information from it. As far as I know, none are able to build it for you.


I have used both RoamResearch and Obsidian. Roam is very intriguing, but it feels a long way from fully formed. It’s expensive and cloud-storage only, so I stopped using it before I had to start paying for it. Roam documents are outline based, while Obsidian is paragraph based, which to me is better for note-taking – I use Dynalist for outlining.

If Roam continues to evolve, perhaps offering a local storage option, it may be worth the subscription fee. I am still experimenting with Obsidian, but I’m not sold yet. For my use, Notebooks by Alfons Schmidt may work better. Like Obsidian, Notebooks creates a new file for each note document, stored locally (in Dropbox). Unlike Obsidian, there is an excellent iOS app. Because I work on Windows at my office, but Apple devices everywhere else, it is useful that Notebooks also has a Windows version – dumbed down, but still useable. Notebooks does not have the sophisticated linking/back linking and mentions feature of Obsidian. But you can drag PDFs and RTF documents into it for viewing.

Those working in Windows might want to check out a fantastic app called ConnectedText, which does what RoamResearch does and a lot more, and has been doing so for over a decade. Unfortunately, development has apparently stopped, but it still works and is reasonably priced.


I think of CT as the Tinderbox of Windows.

Obsidian graph view has been revamped and now includes new filtering options … :smiley:

Getting even better. Now it depicts color groups

If Scrivener could incorporate wikilinks+ network_graphs :arrow_right: :smiley: :open_mouth: :laughing:

Does anyone have experience with Dendron, an open-source system based on the totally wonderful VS Code:


It appears opinionated but flexible.