The Road from Roam to Obsidian

Denise Todd
32 min readMar 2, 2022

The road from Roam Research (Roam) to (Obsidian) can be as short as a bullet-train ride, or as long as a family road trip with lots of detours and educational stops. Regardless of your route, it is worth the trip! Along the way, you’ll be building community relationships and enhancing your Obsidian competency.

Here’s an overview of our journey:

Road Trip Checklist Image
Image Created by Denise Todd / To download a PDF, Click Here

Get Psyched for the Trip

If you love Obsidian skip this part. If you’re reading this article to decide if Obsidian is right for you but have heard Obsidian functionality doesn’t match Roam’s, let’s dispel those myths upfront.

As @pjepy so nicely states in this post, he believes, “the public perception of Obsidian by Roamans is based on a combination of outdated information (some of the block indexing I’m describing has only existed for about 9 months) and the lack of highly-visible UI affordances for some (well, most) of the functionality.”

The post highlights some of Obsidian’s functionality that is often overlooked because either it is new (released in the last six months) or the functionality is not immediately obvious. This includes block references, line swap commanded, outlining functionality, folding toggle, and more. Thus, some in the Roam Community assume the functionality isn’t there. Ah, but it is! And the developers have an awesome road map, so new stuff arrives consistently.

Now let’s dive into my own Roam to Obsidian Roadmap.

Bullet-Train: Quick and Dirty Conversion

Converting to Obsidian can be accomplished in three easy steps:

1) Export your Roam Data
2) Open Obsidian, Choose New Vault, and point it to the folder with your Roam export markdown files
3) From the Obsidian Command Pallet (Ctrl or CMD P) select “Open Markdown Importer” and select the Roam Options.

There! You’re done!

But wait… you say,

- I can’t see the difference between my tags and links?
- What are all these weird folders?
- Why did my file names change?
- Some of my outlines are screwy.
- My daily note page dates. Will they work here?
- My block references don’t…