Craft vs. Obsidian

Focus

This is not an in-depth comparison of these two apps, but rather my initial thoughts on jumping back and forth between them.

Since jumping off of Roam until they have some sort of iOS app I’ve been splitting my time between Craft and Obsidian. I’ve kept Obsidian around because it has a huge community and it seems to have a ton of upside.But after using both for the last few weeks I still seem to lean towards Craft. I’ll go over two main aspects: design and features.

Design

The biggest and most obvious reason is for design. Craft is absolutely gorgeous and Obsidian is…well…not. Obsidian is quite ugly. This is totally fine because it’s functional. Most people that use Obsidian aren’t using it because they love how beautiful it is. And part of the appeal of Obsidian is that you can do custom CSS and custom themes to make it look however you want. But there hasn’t been a single theme that looks anywhere as good as Craft.

Craft is absolutely gorgeous throughout the entire interface. Buttons, blocks, the calendar, images, settings; they all look amazing. Every single aspect of the app is a masterclass in great design. It’s the app I always point to when people say, “The web app is the same as a native app!” PWA’s are good, but not anywhere close to a native app. Craft is the obvious example of that.

Obsidian’s design may also be a feature. The fact that isn’t isn’t super beautiful means that it can get out of the way and just let you type. I know that Conor White-Sullivan says that about Roam.

But at the end of the day, Craft is fun to use and easy to use as well. It’s intuitive and fast. Take a look at my notes from a sermon I listened to today in both Obsidian and Craft. Here’s what it looks like in Obsidian:

And here’s what it looks like in Craft:

Craft just looks so clean.

Everything just looks better to me. It looks proportional and it lines up perfectly. I still get block references, I still get backlinks, and I get a much better implementation of folding sections (don’t even get me started on folding in Obsidian).

Features

Craft has just about everything I need: daily notes, folding text, backlinks, block references, universal search, and starred documents.

Obsidian’s advantage is that you can add community plugins. So if some developer can create a way to track things and turn them into graphs you can do it. If a dev finds a way to add your Todoist todo’s into Obsidian, you can add it. There are tons of great plugins you can add and nearly all of them work on mobile as well.I have a love/hate relationship with plugins.

On one hand they can be great and add tons of functionality, on the other hand, if a developer stops working on a plugin you became dependent on, you could be screwed with an update Obsidian. Plus, one plugin can crash the entire app and force you to restart the app in “safe mode” and figure out which plugin was causing the crash. It can cause headaches. I much prefer to use plugins that are native to the app because you know they will still be there. But again, you can find some awesome plugins in Obsidian and from what I’ve found, developers tend to support their plugins for a while. Many of theme don’t require a lot of upkeep. But still…they could go away at any moment.

Feature for feature Obsidian wins, but Craft has about 90% of what I'm looking for which is pretty close.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, use the app that has the features you need and gets you to write more. For me that’s Craft. I love opening up the app and I love using it. There are some features that I would like to see done better: documents on the sidebar instead of just folders and block references show you where they’ve been referenced, for a start. But they have the added benefit of being a native iOS app so they get things like beautiful widgets and calendar integration with your built in calendar.

Both apps are being developed at a very fast pace, but I like the way Craft has implemented their features so far. They have one of the best implantations of folding text outside of outliner apps like Workflowy. The use of cover images and cards within your notes makes the app unbeatable as far as looks go.I love making beautiful pages in my daily notes. No other app looks this good.

I’ll keep my eye on Obsidian and it still has a place on my home screen but Craft will be my main driver for now.