Exclusively Obsidian: Day 2

Exclusively Obsidian: Day 2

I am on day 2 of using Obsidian exclusively and today was a great day to really dive into whether or not I could really get used to Obsidian as my main driver.

The Roam Purge

First off, let me talk about something very odd relating to Roam. I woke up today to find out that I was permanantly banned from the Roam subreddit. This was odd for a few reasons:

  1. I don't post often in that subreddit, it's not super active.
  2. My last post or comment was 23 days ago.
  3. When I do post, I'm often defending Roam and singing it's praises.

I went to the Roam Slack channel and found a few more people that were randomly banned. Right now, no one knows why this happened or why they chose to ban certain people and not others. One guy hadn't made a post or comment in 70 days.

I've reached out to the moderators with no response. A few of us reached out to Roam and Conor on Twitter with no response. It's an odd situation to say the least. My guess is it's a rogue moderator that got drunk with power and randomly banned people for no reason.

Either way, I was angry and I rage-signed up for Obsidian Sync for $5/month. I don't know if rage-signing up is a thing, but that's what I did. I was a huge Roam fan, but this has soured me on it. If it's an error then just tell us that. Look, I have a 5 year old with an incurable, rare disease called cystic fibrosis, $15/month is a significant cost. I was able to do it because Roam has provided value for me, but if they are going to treat loyal users this way...I may just leave for good.

Let's get to Obsidian and let's start with sync.

Sync

I've been using iCloud Drive to sync between my devices (Macbook Pro, iPhone, iPad Pro) and for the most part it's been fine. But I often find that my iPhone is behind my Mac or vise-versa. I usually have to wait for one to sync with the other, but I found a few times when iCloud Drive would just refuse to sync for some reason and there's no way to force sync it. So I signed up for Obsidian Sync at the discounted price and it's been smooth sailing every since.

Obsidian Sync has super fine grain control over what to sync and when. It's actually fantastic. Sure, I could use Obsidian for free and likely have very little issues, but I often like to support people making great things and $5/month is super cheap.

If you can get Sync, grab it now at the discounted price. It's worth it.

Mobile "App"

Ok, so let's talk about the mobile "app". I use the quotes because it's about as much of an app as the Roam web app is. It's not an app like Craft or Bear or Things. The Obsidian mobile "app" doesn't use any of the awesome functions of a mobile iOS app:

  • Push notifications
  • Calendar support
  • Widget support
  • Share sheet support
  • Shortcut support

So it's really a web app. This is fine, but it would be much better if it had  widget support and push notification support. But I'm guessing that's not going to happen soon.

With that aside, the mobile app is just fine. It's not anything to look at, like Craft is, but it works. It gets the job done.

Getting in the Flow

So today we had staff development day where we have someone talk and we get together by department (I'm in IT and I work at a large church) and talk through how to improve in different ways. It's a great day to take notes and put Obsidian through its paces.

I was able to take notes quite quickly and I really got into a good flow today actually:

I was taking notes at a super rapid pace and I was using the verses from the Bible Study Kit here. I was able to add the verses super quick using the block reference commands.

I still use bullets because that makes it easier for me to visually see when a different thought is being created. That's why I love outliners so much. But this works. I'm able to scan over my notes and easily distinguish between sections and thoughts.

I made a few changes to the block references to make them look a bit more Roam-like. I made it look closer to real text, but gave it a text accent color. I also moved over the link icon to the right because it would often overlap with the text.

Day 2 Closing Thoughts

Obsidian, like any app really, takes time to setup and get used to. It has a curve, especially when you came from something like Roam. The two apps just work different, but once you start to get into a flow with Obsidian then it can really just fade away into the background and allow you to work.

That's why it was so hard to come over and get used to Obsidian; I had spent nearly two years using Roam. My frames of references were all built around Roam, so changing them to work with Obsidian is going to take time. Day 2 was much better and I am actually starting to like it.

I'm still finding quite a few random little UI things that annoy me. I find buttons that aren't aligned just right, the toggle triangle from editor mode and preview mode are different and aren't aligned the same, headers and paragraphs and line items all have different spacing, and a few other things. I can fix all these through CSS, but it just gives me the feeling that the UI feels sloppy at times. You may not notice it if you only use Obsidian, but if you use Craft or Bear or Things which are all pixel perfect, then Obsidian just feels...less than.

But the good news is that I really found a groove with Obsidian and I think that I, dare I say it, really like it. I don't know if I'm ready to fully switch over, but I'm getting closer.

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Jamie Larson
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