I take my notes in Notion and Roam Research, and you? [Week 29/2020 in Review]

natterstefan profile image Stefan Natter ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ’ป Updated on ใƒป8 min read

If you like this article, chances are you will like my tweets or newsletters too. If you are curious, have a look at my twitter profile. ๐Ÿš€

Hello ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿป.

Welcome to my "Week in Review" series. Each week I'm going to share what I discovered, learned, and tested with you.

Let's jump right into it.


I landed another well-performing tweet. This one got me lots of likes, attention, and even some followers.

Besides that, I got to know some more people from the German-Speaking countries Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland.

Have you seen debuild.co in your feed last week? This website is incredible! The video that was posted on Reddit is just insane! Go check it out. I am sure you wanna play with the website afterward (thanks to Cyris for sharing it on Twitter).

How I take Notes

Taking notes is an essential task for me (e.g. when organizing my work, or preserving the important pieces of new topics). I must use a proper tool for this task. That is why I tried a lot of tools in the past to find one that matches as many of my needs as possible. Because managing notes and creating a knowledge database can be a time-consuming (sometimes frustrating), and complex task. Here are a few of the tools I tried:


Notion is great. You can do a lot with it! Taking notes obviously and organizing meetings, product launches, Kanban or Scrum teams, and much more. Notion even has its public Template Gallery.

Notes are clustered in workspaces. Each workspace has sub-workspaces again. For instance, I have my own personal workspace "Stefan" with "Work" and "Private" sub-workspaces. Each of those sub-workspaces contains pages, tables, boards, lists, calendars, and galleries. A note lives in a note lives in a note and so on. With this structure and flexibility, the possibilities to structure your thoughts are almost endless.

Notion is great when it comes to tables. They act as databases. You can use them for all sorts of things. Create a mini-CRM for your clients, organize your books, links, or newsletter issues. Each item in a table can be linked to other tables and pages and so on. That is huge and helpful! Another major benefit for me is the integrated markdown support. Content can be formatted with Markdown. That is very convenient when you are already used to Markdown.

Roam Research

Roam is different. The goal is not only to create notes but also to link the contents with each other to create your knowledge graph. This is not only powerful but also the way humans think. We process interconnected ideas, thoughts, and notes in our heads to articulate our thoughts and learn.

The graph of information is THE feature of Roam. In Notion, you connect pages with links. Similarly, when you link an article to another one on the web. When you want to see how things are connected you need to either have a good structure in your workspace or follow the links. You do not get an overall overview of how information is connected. A big plus of Roam Research.

Roam offers two pricing plans right now. Go to their website to find out more.

Nonetheless, I have used Roam only a few times and very inconsistently. I cannot say more about it, except that the biggest advantage for me was the knowledge-graph like overview you get. This can be super handy when looking up something months after you have taken notes.

Andy Matuschakโ€™s "Evergreen Note Taking System" described by Joshua L. Mitchell made me thinking a lot about the way I organize my notes and thoughts with Notion. His evergreen notes idea caught my attention. Let's see if I can apply his ideas in practice. Another great article by Nat Eliason explains the benefits of Roam in excellent detail.

I will give Roam Research a try now again.


Besides Roam, there is Foam (MIT) (thanks to Juan for the tip). It is a

personal knowledge management and sharing system inspired by Roam Research, built on Visual Studio Code and GitHub.

I am not using it yet, but I'd love to test it. I've seen Scott Spence using it and now I am curious. Do you use it or have tested it in the past? Tell me more in the comments, please.

Scott Spence's article "My Second Brain - ZettelKasten" covers his experience with Notion, Roam, and Foam. It is worth reading.

๐Ÿ“— Currently Reading

I started reading "Clean Code" by Robert "Uncle Bob" C. Martin and listened to "Thinking, Fast and Slow" written by Daniel Kahneman on Audible again. I am at ~70% of the book now.

What are you reading? Share your recommendations in the comments below. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

โ›“ Links of the Week

  • Last week was all about GitHub's new profile feature. It is no wonder that many developers release tools after tool creating shiny GitHub profiles. Danny Verpoort deployed a tool for quickly creating Markdown profiles for instance.
  • I started using calendly again. When you got the link you can book a meeting with me without sending emails back-and-forth. That is great, isn't it?
  • Galleries are popular elements on all sorts of websites. Next time you need one, take a look blueimp's Gallery (component for React). My friend Lukas showed me the examples last week. Compared to other image galleries (e.g. react-image-gallery), this one takes care of handling vertical images out of the box. I have seen other solutions either ignoring or not properly handling different image ratios without further CSS adjustments.
  • Want to start a side-project or learn new technology and need an API? Here are 10+ fun APIs to inspire your next project by Niall.
  • In April 2020, Visual Studio Code got a new feature called "Semantic token styling". It allows you to customize semantic theming (e.g. parameters or declarations) in your themes. My parameters are now light grey and italic. I can easily identify them when screening my code quickly.
  • Are you looking for free vector Illustrations for your project? Then you need to check out "Ouch! Illustrations 2.0"! Their collection is huge!
  • The Open Graph as a Service (MIT) by Vercel generate cards for Twitter, Facebook, Slack, etc. You can try it out here: og-image.now.sh.
  • Last week I had to debug a Travis build and was happy I knew how. It is actually very simple. You run the Travis build in debug mode and connect to it with SSH when it is ready. Now you can run your scripts and debug them until you know how to fix the issue.
  • Awais caught my attention too when he shared this tweet. Have you ever heard of earthly.dev before? According to the docs "It allows you to execute all your builds in containers. This makes them self-contained, reproducible, portable and parallel. You can use Earthly to create Docker images and artifacts (eg binaries, packages, arbitrary files)." THIS SOUNDS GREAT! Also after I had to invest time to debug a Travis build this makes me want to test earthly as soon as possible!
  • Are "re-renders" actually that bad in React? This is a topic we discuss in Pull requests and reviews some times in our team. I read a comprehensive article by Kent C. Dodds covering this topic. It has the matching title "Fix the slow render before you fix the re-render".
  • Another aspect of how to optimize React's performance is the usage of useCallback and useMemo. When should you use it? How frequently should you use it and when does it worse than good? We have diverse points of view on our team sometimes. That is why I shared "When to useMemo and useCallback". (also by Kent C. Dodds) with my team last week. What is your opinion?
  • Are you looking for an Analytics-Insights-A/B-Testing service? Then maybe splitbee is for you. Thanks to Max Stoiber for sharing it.
  • After the Twitter incident last week, the VPN topic was trending in some tweets. I had an interesting discussion about setting and maintaining a self-hosted VPN with Arthur Davi. He suggested ProtonVPN and is interested in setting up WireGuard, like me. I need to allocate time to set this up and try it. Do you use WireGuard already, what are your thoughts about it?
  • This guy automated excuses when coming home late.
  • My friend Cyris released an interesting Alexa skill: "Magic number". I cannot install it yet (not available on amazon.de) but hopefully soon! I asked Cyris already.


This week I have more than just a few tweets I want to share with you. Two very inspiring friends of mine and a famous YouTube channel released their online courses about how they grew their Twitter audience and profile.

Go check them out and be amazed. Thank you, guys! Speaking of twitter, famous verified Twitter accounts got hacked last week too. Hopefully, you did not transfer some Bitcoin to the published address.

๐Ÿฆ Tweets of the Week

I finally got my first Meme from the DML himself - and one from my friend Marc! Awesome.

๐Ÿ“ผ Video of the Week

A good friend of mine released new songs this year and thanks to COVID-19 he cannot promote them the way he planned to. I will use my platform to share some of his songs. Here is one of them. Enjoy it and please leave a comment on YouTube! You do me and my friend a huge favor. THANK YOU!

This is it for week 29/20.

See you next week - same place, same platform. ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿป


If you like this article, chances are you will like my tweets or newsletters too. If you are curious, have a look at my twitter profile. ๐Ÿš€

Let's stay connected on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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natterstefan profile

Stefan Natter ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ’ป


I am interested in and talking about JavaScript, ReactJS, NodeJS, CSS, and Software Engineering | ๐Ÿ“ง Weekly NL Series: https://newsletter.natterstefan.me


markdown guide

I use todoist + github.
I keep a lot of my notes on a github project called 'life'.
I use GTD with todoist to do the rest.
There is also google calendar that is pretty much a must nowadays since everybody uses it.
I am looking for a method to go full github, but the fact that todoist gives me a cross device experience,
it seem to be hard to replace.


Thanks for your insights and experience. How do you organize the notes in your github projects?


Nothing fancy.
I use markdown files for text.
The rest follows a similar structure to this:
โ”œโ”€โ”€ README.md
โ”œโ”€โ”€ active-learning.md
โ”œโ”€โ”€ books.md
โ”œโ”€โ”€ goals.md
โ”œโ”€โ”€ journal
โ”‚ย ย  โ”œโ”€โ”€ 2019
โ”‚ย ย  โ”‚ย ย  โ”œโ”€โ”€ april.md
โ”‚ย ย  โ”‚ย ย  โ”œโ”€โ”€ august.md
โ”‚ย ย  โ”‚ย ย  โ”œโ”€โ”€ december.md
โ”‚ย ย  โ”‚ย ย  โ”œโ”€โ”€ july.md
โ”‚ย ย  โ”‚ย ย  โ”œโ”€โ”€ june.md
โ”‚ย ย  โ”‚ย ย  โ”œโ”€โ”€ may.md
โ”‚ย ย  โ”‚ย ย  โ”œโ”€โ”€ november.md
โ”‚ย ย  โ”‚ย ย  โ”œโ”€โ”€ october.md
โ”‚ย ย  โ”‚ย ย  โ””โ”€โ”€ september.md
โ”‚ย ย  โ”œโ”€โ”€ april.md
โ”‚ย ย  โ”œโ”€โ”€ february.md
โ”‚ย ย  โ”œโ”€โ”€ january.md
โ”‚ย ย  โ”œโ”€โ”€ july.md


I like Notion and Roam, but they are not for developers, they're generic note taking apps.

This is why I built Archbee, an app that lets developers and their team note take everything from thoughts, diagrams, API docs, changelogs and more.

Try it and let me know what you think ๐Ÿค—


Hi Dragos,

thanks for sharing Archbee with us. I will definitely look.


Great article, really interesting to read how you use different apps for your note-taking needs. I actually just posted a Show Dev about Supernotes, the note-taking app I am building, would love to hear your thoughts.


Hi Tobias,

Sure. I am gonna read your Shownotes and let you know what I think!


Just sharing, another tool that's useful for note-taking is workflowy.


Super cool resources shared - definitely will be looking more into second-brain / notetaking tools like Roam.


Thanks, Emilie. I am happy you liked it. Let me know what you think of Roam, once you tried it.


Nice review. Guess whose name appeared on tweet of the week? ใƒฝ(โ€ขโ€ฟโ€ข)ใƒŽ