Top Open Source Alternatives to Roam Research for Note-Taking

Joplin: Encrypt and sync notes across platforms. Logseq: Manage complex info with outlines. Trilium Notes: Create extensive hierarchical knowledge bases. Standard Notes: Simple and long-lasting data. Dendron: Build large-scale note systems.

Top Open Source Alternatives to Roam Research for Note-Taking

In the quest for efficient knowledge management, many users seek robust platforms like Roam Research. However, open-source enthusiasts who prioritize privacy and customization have several compelling alternatives. Joplin offers end-to-end encryption and cross-platform compatibility; Logseq focuses on outliner features for managing complex information; Trilium Notes excels in creating extensive personal knowledge bases with a hierarchical structure; Standard Notes champions simplicity and longevity of data; and Dendron caters to those building large-scale note systems. Each tool brings unique strengths to the table, catering to different aspects of note-taking and personal knowledge management.

Table of Contents

  • Logseq: Outlining for Complexity
  • Trilium Notes: Hierarchical Knowledge Management
  • Standard Notes: Simplicity and Endurance
  • Dendron: The Note-Taking Tool for Power Users
  • Foam Notes: Diverse, Global Medical Education

Logseq: Outlining for Complexity

Logseq shines when it comes to managing complex information and relationships. As an outliner, it structures notes in a tree-like format for easy organization. You can break down topics into finer details while still seeing the big picture. Backlinks and graph visualization further uncover connections across your knowledge base. Logseq also has built-in support for workflows like note planning and task management. While not as versatile as Joplin, Logseq excels at outlining for complexity.

Standard Notes: Simplicity and Endurance

Standard Notes champions both simplicity and longevity of data. It strips down note-taking to plain text notes and folders for easy organization. Without complex features, Standard Notes ensures maximum compatibility across devices and longevity across OS upgrades. All data is stored on the user’s side in open, future-proof formats. Standard Notes also allows fully encrypted cloud sync. With a minimalist approach focused on durability, Standard Notes guarantees your notes will outlast shifting technology landscapes.

Foam Notes

FOAM, or Free Open Access Meducation, encompasses diverse educational resources like blogs, podcasts, and videos, providing globally accessible, crowd-sourced medical education. It's not a teaching philosophy but an educational adjunct, enhancing traditional principles. In the tech realm, Foam is a personal knowledge management and sharing system for Visual Studio Code and GitHub, inspired by Roam Research. Users can organize research, take rediscoverable notes, write long-form content, and publish it. The platform is open source, extensible, and designed to facilitate better thinking and learning. FOAM is also a community-driven project, with a public GitHub repository for discussions and issue tracking.

Below are two other apps, which I am not sure it they are actively maintained.

Trilium Notes: Hierarchical Knowledge Management

If you aim to build extensive personal knowledge bases, Trilium Notes is a superb choice. Its hierarchical structure allows creating complex note trees spanning vast topics and subtopics. Notes can contain formatted text, images, code blocks, mathematical expressions, and more. Trilium also enables effortless linking across notes. Flexible organization coupled with linking generates a powerful system for managing knowledge. However, it does not have native mobile apps. But for sheer knowledge management capabilities, Trilium delivers.

Dendron: The Note-Taking Tool for Power Users

Dendron stands out by catering specifically to power users building large-scale note vaults for knowledge management. It utilizes a hierarchical system of notes organized into domains and trees. Notes can also interlink extensively using custom reference schemes. Dendron particularly shines when integrated with VS Code for streamlined note-taking workflows. Its focus on flexibility and extensibility makes Dendron a versatile tool for expert note-takers. While it has a steeper learning curve, the payoff is unmatched capabilities for managing vast volumes of notes.


When choosing a Roam alternative, carefully evaluate your priorities - whether security, complexity, longevity, or scale. Joplin, Logseq, Trilium, Standard Notes, and Dendron each cater to specific needs in their quest to build the ultimate note-taking app. Fortunately, open-source gives users choice. So seek the tool aligned with your personal knowledge management style.