5-Jun-22 – So, Why Logseq vs Others?

On this beautiful Sunday morning, I thought I would do an impromptu article on a recurring question I come across. On the Discord, I regularly see users asking things like Logseq vs X? Which is better Y or Logseq? Is Logseq better the Z?

Replace X, Y and Z with Roam, Obsidian, Remnote, Notion, EverNote, mem.ai etc. etc.

As you will be able to gather, it is a highly subjective response. What might be better for you might be the opposite for me. Our end goals and objectives might not be aligned, so can we really compare one with another from the perspective of different people? Also, and maybe more importantly, how do we define better? Each tool has different capabilities and strengths that will mean different things to different people. With those caveats out of the way, here are my reasons on the winner. Don’t worry, this is not an “it depends” article.

Logseq #1

To me there is nothing out there that beats Logseq. The tool does have its shortcomings (will post a few later on in the article), but the strengths far outweigh the negatives. So, why is Logseq #1?

Ease of Taking Notes

This is critical no matter what you do in life (I am not a fan of segregating people in groups like academic, researcher, writer, gardener, reader, librarian, Martian etc. I am none of these, I am but a simpleton looking to take notes and cannot get enough of using Logseq – although my wife may argue that I sometimes seem to be from Mars). Anyway, the ease of being able to jot notes down on the fly in the daily notes page, either on the desktop app or mobile app, means that I can write my thought down with minimal friction. This compares with having to think does it fit here, or there, no wait, what about over here, and by the time you find the space you forgot your chain of thought.

Having said the above, it is vital to review your notes each week to make your note taking useful rather than a graveyard. This does take disciple and willpower but it does allow you to sort through your notes and firm up what you want to keep or discard the mumbo jumbo.

Query Attributes / Properties

With Logseq, you can create powerful database type tables by pulling key criteria from your pages. By using attributes (e.g. Title:: Ed Nico and His Ramblings or Author:: John Grisham ) you can create something along the lines of the below:

For data retrieval, review. or creating a library (hmm maybe I am a librarian after all) data bank (ahh better) this is perfect.

Outliner Style

I love being able to jot things down, indent, outdent, move up / down with the click of a few keys. I appreciate that a lot of apps have bullet / numbered list possibilities (just waiting for the day for Microsoft to add this “feature” to Excel to make it even more bloaty), but having my note taking app built in an outline form helps my flow. I can then focus in on key sections as and when needed.

The above is nothing more than a preference. To write this article for instance, I had something like this:

  • Why Logseq?
    • Ease of writing notes
      • Anywhere (mobile, desktop)
      • Daily notes page
      • Review notes frequently to avoid graveyard
    • Queries
      • Power of extracting data
      • Title:: xxxxx
      • Example image of Books
    • Outline
      • Easy to write and easy to follow
      • Focus option
      • Ability to move
    • Ahhh no peeking 🙂
      • You have to read on

To create something more finalised I transformed the outline into an article. Having the above took a minimal amount of time and then writing an article from the key points I wanted to convey did not take long and allowed me to solidify what I was trying to get out.

The Devs & Community

I know this is often said, but I find that nothing beats their attitude, ambition, friendliness and general down to earthiness. They are ever present, willing to listen to constructive criticism, admit when they did something wrong and work their socks off to put things right or improve the app for all of us. The community is something else. Users are willing to post their experiences and workflows, help others out and generally provide good vibes all round.

Although this is not directly related to performance, I feel that it is important to know that the people behind the tool where you are putting your life’s thoughts are the good guys (been watching a bit too much Orange is the new Black, I think).

Annotation and Spaced Repetition

With Logseq having both PDF annotation and Spaced Repetition (SRS) built in, you have the power to add so much more context to files and get the most out of information. By annotating a PDF and extracting key passages and data, and then being able to write your own words around your findings, well you are halfway to creating something that can be published.

Having SRS allows you to revisit passages from your notes, or cement whatever it is that you are trying to learn.

Having it all in one place allows for less friction and more creation and learning.

Plugins

Plugins are user developed golden nuggets. In the Logseq marketplace there really is something for everyone. With plugins you can extent the power of Logseq whilst the devs focus on the core of the app to make it ever more reliable and performant.

The above is a list of just a few – there are soo many more things like Namespaces, themes, task management which I feel give Logseq that superiority over the other apps.

Shortcomings

I like to think of myself as one of Logseq’s biggest fans, but like in life, would it even be an article if we did not mention some shortcomings.

  • Start up time – I mentioned in point 1 the ability to take notes quickly – this is if you have Logseq open. I find when starting up Logseq, the time could be improved to give us that near instant thought to paper workflow.
  • All pages – should maintain its state. You can sort it and filter it but when you move to a page and go back it resets.
  • Export – I feel like there should be something built in natively to Logseq to allow users to export their notes in the format (markdown, rich text, pdf) they want easily. Just now it is cumbersome and a bit hit and miss.
  • Assets – I feel like there should be an “All Assets” section where you can see the assets you have in your Logseq. This would allow for much better file management. Also the naming convention – If I insert a document called “recipe.pdf” why does this become “recipe_12356562325218.pdf? – to share this I now need to faff around and rename the file if not someone will think I am a deranged lunatic.

As you can see, the above, although sometimes annoying are really pedantic issues. This is a testament to the devs and the community of Logseq who have really made the app remarkable.

Summary

To me Logseq is numero uno! It is not to say that some of the things I mentioned that make Logseq stand out are not available in other apps, I am sure they are. To me though, the overall set up of Logseq is what sets it apart from the rest. It does of course take some time getting used to writing in outline style if you are used to longform writing, but give it some time and after a short period of time you will not want to go back and think how could I live without this.

In the end, it also really depends on what you are after. Some people swear by Notion (I tried it, spent hours getting it just right, started to use it, and was completely lost and struggled – gave up). Obsidian is very good and powerful as it Remnote Siyuan, OneNote, Evernote etc. – they each have their own strengths (and weaknesses).

To conclude I will leave you with this: “Whether you decide to use Logseq, Obsidian, Roam or another other tool, the tool is only the enabler, you need to shape it for you and define how you use it to better your thinking”. There is no right answer here (I know, I said it would not be an “it depends” article), use what you feel most comfortable with and the tool that will help you achieve what you set out.

Thanks for reading

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