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My new favorite secondbrain tool: Stroll

(@Technoshaman, pinging you because I know you’re using Obsidian, but this note is for all.)

I have a longer post I want to write about this, but I also wanted to post the gist ASAP, so here you go. As such, this post will be missing details, but let me know if I can answer questions, which would help me write the longer post anyway!

I tried [[Roam]], and while I appreciate it, it’s not for me.

I tried [[Obsidian]], and I like it a lot. I started moving stuff into it (and was able to just a previous set of Markdown-wiki into it with no problems!)

Last week, I tried Stroll, and I love it. It is my new favorite, and I feel like I can do all I was doing with Obsidian, but better and more cleanly. I’m switching to Stroll. (Aside about TiddlyRoam: it’s based on TiddlyBlink, which is the deprecated tool that preceded Stroll, by the same author. I decided to go with Stroll, but YMMV.)

Note, Stroll doesn’t quite support a network diagram like Obsidian. You can install a TiddlyMap plugin, and the Stroll author has some tips to get it to work, while also saying very plainly that he does not support them working together. I haven’t been using a network visualizer anyway, so I don’t mind.

The “A stroll through Stroll” walkthrough is very helpful, and also serves as a pretty good introduction to TiddlyWiki 5 (which underlies Stroll).

A big first hurdle is figuring out how you’ll save (and load) your Stroll / TiddlyWiki. I ended up choosing the GitLab saver. (After trying the GitHub saver, which interacts with TW5 to create 409 errors not infrequently. GitLab has been working well instead.) Just the HTML5 file saver is fine for infrequent saves, but for my main second brain, I really need to have autosave on. To use a Git saver, you need a repo in the cloud, but you don’t really need to know Git besides that. When you do reload your Stroll, you do have to remember to get the most recent version from the repo, either in the web interface (or if you know Git, you can have a local repo, just make sure to pull before loading the file in your browser).

The other thing I added was the Markdown plugin, which works well after the fix in the “Troubleshooting” tab of the “stroll through Stroll” walkthrough. N.B., I think the Relink plugin does not rewrite Markdown links, so I’m trying to use more TW5 native page types, rather than Markdown pages. (If you want Markdown, grab the Markdown plugin from this page, the link is broken in the plugin catalog: markdowndemo.)

[Aside: TiddlyWiki could take over the world, except that it’s basically single-player. (Modulo some experiments with PouchDB/CouchDB, i.e., NoteSelf.) A topic for another time.]


P.S., there’s a outline-style plugin for Stroll that makes it more Roam-like. Don’t need it for me, haven’t tried it.

Another quick tip: CamelCase words make links. Use “~” in front of them to disable auto-linking.

That’s why in some places you’ll sometimes see “~TiddlyWiki”.

I am interested in seeing if there is a way to share a repository of Obsidian content.

But perhaps that just adds to the many piles of many documents and fragments in many different formats for many people to try to use for many different ends?

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There are several options to share Obsidian content (entire vault or just folders) with others:

  1. Obsidian Publish was publicly launched couple of weeks ago as a premium add-on - if you are comfortable with paying $8/month = $96/year might be the best solution.
    – Obsidian eating their own dog food, using Publish for Obsidian Help
    – A demo from a user who reposted Andy Matuschak’s working notes with the so called “sliding windows mode”:
    – Two videos from two community members: First Look At Obsidian Publish and Obsidian Publish (0.9.2) — The World is Your Oyster
  2. Setting up a vault in a shared Dropbox folder - I’m using it myself to add quick notes & links using the Dropbox mobile app (you can open & edit markdown files), but you could share with others as well.
  3. GitHub repo (public or private shared with team members)
  4. Fun option: Copy-pasting notes/messages to/from this OGM Discourse forum (as markdown is supported)

Disclaimer: I’m a user of Obsidian since May 2020, and one of their Catalyst supporters since July. I’m also a Believer supporter of Athens Research (an open-source Roam Research alternative), and one of their test-user, starting from today. I’m test-using Roam Research since May 2020 - but didn’t put any valuable content into their system, even if I’m closely following their product updates. I took a brief look at the different TiddlyWiki solutions (TiddlyBlink, Stroll, Tiddly Roam, Drift, TiddlyResearch), but didn’t ended up test-using any of them.


thanks for the informative reply.

  1. publish seems the best, but my budget for subscription software is not so stretchy this year.
  2. dropbox folder (i have a dropbox acc’t so maybe)
  3. github repo might be fun; although github is not an archive repo, it is a workbench. otoh it does maintain versions.
  4. although it is a manual operation it has some +'s. (i did once keep notes on my readings on index cards …)

Bill, what do you mean by “archive repo”?

One of the cool things about git is that it can talk to different upstreams or peers. So you could use github for day-to-day, and then host your own gitea server (or whatever) for long-term archiving.

That’s sort of what I’ve got going on for my Obsidian (which is the same set of files as my Gollum, and also the same set of files I was doing without any engine for a while). Both for backup, and dual-machine use. It would work okay for a number of different people, too.

I mean github is not a preservation repository (wrong word choice with “archive”). If you look at the TOS there is no commitment for any kind of long-term preservation on repo content. This is in contrast to something like Zenodo ( where there is a commitment to preserve content even if they lose funding or are taken over by an institution with different goals. Figshare ( is another site that (I think) will preserve software as well as docs and data. They are owned by Elsevier, which is a private, profit-driven company.

For this reason I consider github a workbench. If I want long-term preservation of content I need to look elsewhere.

However, like Sourceforge, I expect github to have a long life. But the business goals of the owners do not include preservation.

Does this help?

My initial reply was trying to present some possible answers, when you were asking about …

I haven’t considered preservation, but indeed, it’s a critical aspect to consider, which is leading me to questions like:

  • What could be the lifespan of a shared note, or set/collection of notes?
  • What is the lifespan of the “notes” (as some messages tend to have a breadth and depth to label them as such) we’re sharing through this Discourse forum & Google Group, or the information collaboratively edited with other tools (like Miro, Google Docs, etc.) by the community members?
  • What happens if/when we lose forever some/all of the “notes”, we ideally wanted to preserve?
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Your questions are the best. And they are questions to which archivists have developed answers and practices; and questions they continue to work on.

Your last question about loss is one that I have dealt with in my own work and life. Some things do get lost. For these I only have my memories, as imperfect as they are, of what that newspaper article or book review said.

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(crossposting from the OGM mailing list)

Hi Glenn!

On the OGM mailing list, Glenn McGrew II writes,

What is a secondbrain tool? I don’t know anything about these tools
that have been mentioned, or how Jerry transferred his brain (Dr.
Frankenstein?). :slight_smile:

We’re referring to the practice and tools (or, art and science) involved in noting down and curating salient facts and observations during one’s life. Sort of like a diary, but sort of more based around facts, concepts, references, etc. The term might come partly from “TheBrain,” an early tool, and also from Tiago Forte’s “Building a Second Brain” workshop.

Jerry’s process: “Imagine if you had all the things worth remembering over the past 22 years, some 412,000 items, all curated in one giant mind map.” [1]

Common tools are Evernote, TheBrain, Zettelkästen, personal wiki, Scrivener, etc. Roam and Obsidian and the like are new kids. Less evolved practices include just using one long Microsoft Word doc, or lots of Notepad or TextEdit files, etc.

Generally, such “braining” has heretofore been a mostly personal activity. Some of us in OGM are hoping to make it a more cooperative and collaborative process.

In OGM Forum [2], Rob O’Keefe made a good list of typical use cases:

  • Collecting and organizing information (mainly web links or clipped articles)
  • Discovering and Creating Links between Concepts or Facts
  • Writing Long Form Articles or a Book
  • Daily Logging
  • CRM / People
  • Evergreen Notes [3]



[2] Comparing and cataloguing tools


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@peterkaminski, I assume that Stroll can be used on both Mac and PC.
Is that correct?

What collaboration options does Stroll provide?

How robust is TiddlyWiki? Could it be used as a knowledge base for SymmaSys?

Good questions, George!

Correct, Mac, Windows, and Linux – anything with a decent web browser. Even mobile browsers are okay, although the user experience on them is not great.

Near to none. Or to put it another way, fewer than Obsidian. There has been work on TiddlyWiki and CouchDB/PouchDB, which might lead to collaboration. Or, I have worked with a TiddlyWiki “API” library, TiddlPy, which could be used to load and save pages to some collaborative intermediary. But basically, it’s not collaborative.

(With Obsidian, I think it might work to use Git to synchronize multiple installations. I myself use Git to back up the collection of Markdown files I use with Obsidian and Gollum. The possibility of Git-based collaboration is why I say Obsidian has more collaboration options than Stroll. Although I haven’t tried doing any collaboration through my Git repo, so I don’t know what the pain/productivity ratio would be.)

It’s nice and robust. I’m not sure how it will scale. I think it will scale to thousands of pages, and maybe many more, but I do not know for sure.

One caution about its robustness; because it is in a way “decentralized” – any copy of your Stroll HTML file is the entire database and also the entire application – the save and reload architecture can be a little confusing, and if you’re not careful, you can accidentally “fork” your Stroll by using two or more instances of it, or have other similar situations which don’t cause data loss, but confuse you with where your data is.

Still and all, similar to what you say about Obsidian, I can say about Stroll, that it is the best PKE-enabling hypertext platform I have found, and it is exquisite for individual ideation. (As long as you don’t need graph visualization.)

Since it is not collaborative, I think I must say no.

If one could mash up Federated Wiki and Stroll, somehow, though…


Thanks, @peterkaminski, for your substantive, very helpful answers!

I’m in the pre-totyping phase of the first two use cases for SymmaSys, which Obsidian is able to support. However, for further use cases and a MVP, its collaboration affordances may not be sufficient.

I have to type with one hand :slightly_smiling_face: cuz I’m keeping my fingers crossed :crossed_fingers: for the possibility that its API will let some smart geeks expand the collab capabilities of Obs’ web-based version.


So we can see the result of “one hand typing.” Nice.

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Two bits of news:

Successful retrieval of accidentally deleted content: I messed up and deleted some of the contents of a page, and saved it before realizing it. Luckily, the autosave saves quickly, and to retrieve the deleted contents, all I had to do was git checkout a commit a few back, load that version of the Stroll, find the page, and copy/paste it into the current version of my Stroll. Yay! (Note, however, even though I’m using git as the saver, diffs between versions are nearly useless, because Stroll/TiddlyWiki has everything including code and internal non-page state data stored in the same HTML file.)

Federation and TiddlyServer - a discussion from 2017 I noticed on the TiddlyWiki email list about how federation of TiddlyWiki content might work.

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