Why would anyone look for Notion alternatives?

It’s a great app, right?

Suppose, let’s say, you need to access information in Notion but there is no internet connection. And now, Notion can’t operate without it.

Or maybe you don’t want to put any confidential data or media in the Notion as it’s not end-to-end encrypted, which sucks! 👎

Perhaps, you need some advanced project management features like time tracking, recurring tasks, milestones, graphs, that Notion doesn’t offer.

Well, there might be many reasons for which you may have to look for Notion alternatives, which is okay.

I will cover some Notion alternatives in this post. I will let you know all the things you need to know so that you can decide which tool is right for you.

Anytype: When Notion Meets Security

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Here you go! Another Notion alternative for you. It feels and works just like Notion.

But Anytype offers some features that so many users are expecting from Notion: offline access and privacy.

Anytype is also a block-based tool but unlike Notion, it stores information locally and doesn’t have access to your data.

So, for Linux users who are more privacy-focused, this is the app you want to go for.

And, you can access them even without an internet connection.

Now, let’s find out if it’s the right tool for you:

👍 Pros

  • Secure data storage: Anytype provides offline mode and full control over data, allowing for secure data syncing and storage.
  • Flexible data structuring: Anytype provides an interconnected way to structure data with objects and relations, making it easier to track changes.
  • Secure data syncing and storage: Anytype provides end-to-end encryption and offline-first backup nodes for secure data syncing and storage.
  • Data visualization: Anytype’s graph view helps visualize interconnections between data, making it easier to track changes and analyze information.
  • Open-source: Anytype is open-source, allowing for more transparency and community contributions.

👎 Cons

  • Incomplete feature set: Anytype is still a work in progress, with some features missing or incomplete.
  • Not as feature-rich as Notion: Anytype lacks some of the features of Notion, such as team collaboration, goal and project management, and content creation.

Read my complete review on Anytype!

🤔 For whom it’s best for: Users who prioritize data privacy and ownership, as well as those who are looking for a more customizable and flexible way to structure their data, may prefer Anytype over Notion. Anytype’s graph-based structure and emphasis on relations and connections between data may appeal to users who enjoy mind mapping or visualizing interconnections between ideas. However, users who rely heavily on Notion’s API integrations and AI features for team setups may find it difficult to switch to Anytype.

AppFlowy: Notion open-source alternative

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AppFlowy is an open-source replacement to Notion that provides better privacy and transparency. Let’s take a closer look at what it offers.

Notion is an exceptional tool, but it’s not open source and it’s not available for Linux users. AppFlowy is built with Rust and Flutter, and it follows a minimal approach while still providing enough customization options. It’s also an open-source project with a strong focus on data privacy. Plus, it has a single codebase for better maintenance. And finally, Community-driven extensibility is a great feature.

For the developers of Appflowy, Notion is still their favorite tool. They use it daily and are on its paid plan. However, they understand that Notion has its limitations as well. These include weak data security and poor compatibility with mobile devices.

The developers of Appflowy believe that there is a glass ceiling on what’s possible in the future for tools like Notion. This is because they believe that these tools will likely struggle to scale horizontally at some point. This means that they will likely be forced to prioritize a proportion of customers whose needs can be quite different from the rest.

According to them, the main differentiating factor between AppFlowy and Notion is that the former offers “data privacy first,” “reliable native experience,” and “community-driven extensibility.” In other words, with AppFlowy, you have more control over your data, and the platform is designed to be more reliable and extendable. As for community involvement, AppFlowy is dedicated to offering building blocks (i.e., collaboration infrastructure services) to enable users to create their own apps.

👍 Pros

  • Open source (also available for Linux).
  • Strong focus on data privacy.
  • Community-driven extensibility.

👎 Cons

  • Not as widely used as Notion, so there may be fewer available resources (e.g., templates, tutorials).
  • Not much features and API support as of now.
  • Their roadmap is on Trello!
  • It has a terrible name. Notion is more brandable.

🤔 For whom it’s best for: If you’re someone who values data privacy, reliability, and extendability in a workplace management tool, then AppFlowy may be worth checking out. Otherwise, you might want to stick with Notion for now. I have high expectations for Anytype than this.

Tana – Roam and Notion has a baby 👶

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Tana is a cloud-based outlining application similar to Obsidian and Roam Research. It allows you to create bullets within bullets within bullets and has improved databasing capabilities.

It also has features like tagging and linking nodes together, improved search with filters and sorts, and instance properties.

Here, I’ll map Tana’s terms to their Notion equivalents.

  • Super tag = Database
  • Nodes = Potential database items
  • Fields = Properties
  • Tag = A tag (that Notion doesn’t have)
  • Search node with filters and sorts= Linked Database
  • Instance = Relation property

But its workflow is essentially inverse to Notion’s – enter information first and then decide what to do with it.

For example, Tana’s “Daily Pages” feature allows you to easily enter data into the system in the form of nodes.

Essentially a super tag is a database that can have multiple fields/properties in its template.

Then you can use features like tags and supertags to organize and query them with “search nodes” feature.

Similar to Notion’s linked databases

However, there are some features that are not available in Tana that may be important to some users. Notion offers features such as formulas, rollups, AI assistant, teams, API, integrations, additional database views, dependencies, and note exports. Additionally, Notion’s backlinks are more powerful than Tana’s.

Additionally, Tana has a steep learning curve, so you may find themselves disappointed if the features they rely on are not available.

Ultimately, whether Tana is an alternative to Notion depends on your needs and preferences.

For individual users, Tana is a great choice if they want to improve their knowledge mapping and outlining capabilities, but it may not be the best option for work-related tasks due to the lack of certain features.

👍 Pros

  • Easier item creation: Creating items is easier in Tana due to the outlining approach.
  • Improved item visibility: It’s easier to see what you wrote about an item in Tana. In Notion, it takes additional clicks.
  • Richer backlinks and references: References and backlinks are more feature-rich in Tana.
  • Tag extension feature: Tana allows you to set parent tags to a tag.
  • Faster and more robust searchability: Searchability is faster and more robust in Tana. Unlike creating linked databases in Notion, you can create search nodes on the fly in any different view format.
  • Daily pages: Tana’s daily pages feature helps you plan your day and keep a work journal.

👎 Cons

  • Incomplete feature set: Tana lacks some of the features of Notion, such as timeline, calendar, dependencies, rollups, AI, refined team permissions, and robust API.
  • Node-based approach: Tana has a node-based approach instead of the block-based approach of Notion. This may limit the ability to create more complex workflows and documents.
  • Steep learning curve: Tana can be more complex than Notion for some people, making it challenging to use.

I personally use Notion for managing my life area operations, habit tracking, content projects, and writing blog posts, while I use Tana for taking notes, knowledge management, creating daily pages, and creating blog post outlines.

In essence, I use Notion as a structure to operate in and Tana for knowledge capturing, connecting, and synthesizing.

Read my complete review on Tana here.

🤔 Many people are mocing from Notion to Tana, because, in comparison to Notion, Tana offers a more natural experience when creating items and viewing related items. It allows users to stay in a state of “flow” while creating content and then decide how to organize it afterwards. Additionally, Tana’s organization of related items being spatially close to each other mirrors how the brain works, making it easier to navigate.

Coda: All-in-One Doc for Teams

Coda.io is a new tool compared to Notion. But it is the closest that you can get.

In fact, Coda has the same modular layout. But unlike Notion, Coda is, what they claim, fully encrypted.

Coda is like your typical Doc tool but loaded with high-end customization. It allows you to easily create new pages, checklists, tasks, tables, boards, and other important elements.

And, just like Notion, you can use Coda for documentation, increasing productivity, and most importantly for team collaboration.

Now let’s look at some of the Pros and Cons:

👍 Pros

  • Coda offers a beautiful user experience.
  • It’s flexible. You can build both simple and complex systems here.
  • Coda offers a wide range of third-party integration that you can use to save time and effort.
  • It has all the necessary components (tables, boards, lists, etc.) that you can expect from a no-code modular tool
  • Most importantly, it’s secure. All your data in Coda is encrypted and no one can access that.

👎 Cons

  • I find it a little slower than Notion
  • Like Notion, you can’t replace Coda with your traditional spreadsheet apps
  • It requires a bit of a steep learning curve
  • It doesn’t work fully offline
  • Coda hosts all your information on Google Drive and is only accessible on Google Chrome enforcing Google monopoly

🤔 For whom it’s best for: Despite having some drawbacks, I believe Coda is a great Notion alternative. Particularly for people who are concerned with their privacy and security. So, if security and flexibility are somethings you opt for, Coda will be your best friend.

Obsidian: Build Your Second Brain

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Well, this one is pretty interesting. Obsidian is not like any other productivity tool.

It’s a no-brainer if you desire to build a strong knowledge base and enjoy taking notes.

Basically, Obsidian is a note-taking tool.

But in reality, it’s much more than that. You can connect notes and create an interlinked network of all the notes similar to our mental schema.

Let me explain. What I generally do is that I take notes from different sources. It can be books, articles, videos, or so on.

But these ideas are often related to one another. Most note-taking apps fail to create a connection between these ideas or notes. That’s exactly what Obsidian can do.

You can connect notes with each other and together they will form an interlinked network of ideas or brain maps. Or, what the Obsidian team calls ‘A Second Brain’.

Now let’s look deeper into this app:

👍 Pros

  • You can view a graphical representation of all your notes and connections
  • Access your notes offline as it stores data locally
  • It’s lightweight and customizable
  • Multiple plugins available to improve the workflow
  • A Free version is available

👎 Cons

  • It’s very limiting when you compare it with Notion.
  • No native table editing (only with plugin)
  • You’ve to pay for the syncing & publishing features
  • It requires a little bit of a learning curve.

For whom it’s best for:

So, is Obsidian a better alternative to Notion?

It can be if you take learning, note-taking, and personal knowledge management seriously.

Students, authors, and other types of knowledge workers can benefit most from Obsidian.

This will be a great option if you are familiar with the power graphical representations of notes and ideas have to promote creativity, comprehension, and retention.

Focalboard: The Self-Hosted Kanban App

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Focalboard is also a relatively new tool and offers early access.

It’s basically a project management tool that utilizes the Kanban board view. If you’re familiar with Trello, you’ll use this tool quite easily.

But unlike Trello and other project management tools, it’s an open-source and self-hosted platform. So, you can access them even when you’re offline.

If you’ve been a Notion user, you will find Focalboard similar to its board view. You can add properties like status, members, priority, and even change the view to your liking.

In fact, it looks a lot like a Notion board-view.

So, is it the Notion alternative you’re looking for?

Let’s find out.

👍 Pros

  • Built for complete project management purpose
  • Two versions available: personal desktop (standalone desktop app) and Personal server (Self-hosted server).
  • It has a familiar interface like Notion, Asana, Trello, and other Kanban apps
  • It’s self-hosted. So, it’s secured and has offline access
  • It’s free and open-source.

👎 Cons

  • Not suitable for note-taking purposes. Of course, you can do that. But not as convenient as Notion or Obsidian.
  • You’ll need some technical knowledge to set up the Personal Server version.
  • Not available as an Android or iOS version.

🤔 For whom it’s best for: So, you might be wondering, if you should go for this one as a Notion alternative. I will say, it’s up to you. If you only need the project management stuff, Focalboard can be your ally. But if your work is focused more on notes or knowledge management, you should aim for Coda, Anytype, or Obsidian.

ClickUp: The Master of Project Management

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If you own a business, and your aim is to be super productive, nothing can beat ClickUp.

ClickUp is a powerful project management tool with so many advanced features that Notion and other tools don’t offer.

Notion has many project management features. But not as many as ClickUp does.

ClickUp has features like task dependencies, recurring tasks, mind maps, milestones, Scrum Points, bulk rescheduling that can’t be done natively in Notion.

It is really an amazing tool. Project Management is where it really shines.

But what if you have to take notes just like you do in Notion? You can definitely do that.

But this isn’t meant to be used solely for notes or other forms of less formal task management. That’s why it’s not an all-in-one workspace app.

Now let’s find out if ClickUp is the tool you are looking for as a Notion alternative:

👍 Pros

  • It has so many advanced project management features. If you have a business or team, it’s more than perfect.
  • It has native integration with Slack, GitHub, Google Drive, Google assistance, OneDrive, Outlook, Figma, Zoom, and so many other popular apps.
  • A free version is enough for personal project/task management.
  • Fully secured and encrypted.
  • Available on Android or iOS platforms too.

👎 Cons

  • Too many features and options for customization. This can be overwhelming for some users.
  • It can be confusing at first. And, it also needs some learning curve.
  • Not at all suitable for note-taking and other forms of casual tasks or list management.

🤔 For whom it’s best for: In my opinion, you should only go for ClickUp if you’re serious about team and project management. Other than that, ClickUp might be an overkill for your needs.

Airtable: Spreadsheets on Steroids

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Another tool I want to talk about is Airtable.

In one word, it’s a spreadsheet app on steroids.

You can make a table, database, assign images, make a Gantt chart, etc. You can even use their prebuilt apps to take your workflow to the next level.

But, what about other areas like note-taking, productivity, collaboration, and security?

Let’s find out:

👍 Pros

  • Airtable is really good at creating databases and tables
  • It is the best alternative if you have to deal with loads of data
  • Its powerful API allows you to integrate it with over 1000 popular apps like Asana, Basecamp, Dropbox, Evernote, etc.
  • Automated workflows can save time and effort
  • It’s secured and encrypted. So, you don’t have to worry about privacy

👎 Cons

  • Airtable is not suitable for note-taking, let alone knowledge management
  • It involves a steeper learning curve
  • It can be daunting for some users for its long list of features.

🤔 For whom it’s best for: Airtable is best if you’re more of a data person. But if you need to take a lot of notes or highlights, then you should opt for other alternatives like Obsidian, Coda, or Anytype.

Roam Research: Your Knowledge Bank

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Want to take your knowledge management to the next level?

Roam Research is the tool you’re looking for.

It is best for note-taking and knowledge management.

It’s similar to Obsidian in features except it’s cloud-based. So, you can access it from anywhere.

Like Obsidian, you can connect notes and see the graph overview. But Roam Research also comes with the ability to create bi-directional links.

But do these features make Roam Research a better alternative to Notion?

Let’s look at some of the Pros and Cons first:

👍 Pros

  • Features like bi-directional linking and graph overview make Roam the best choice for note-taking and knowledge management
  • Roam can help users be more creative as they can see how the ideas link with each other
  • It’s more advanced than Notion when it comes to its linking capabilities.
  • It’s easier to learn than other similar alternatives.

👎 Cons

  • Roam is quite pricey at $15/month and no free version is available
  • It’s not suitable for task management or project management
  • Not yet available as an iOS or Android app. A big con
  • Creating tables or databases is not yet as functional as Notion or other alternatives
  • Security and privacy are not great.

🤔 For whom it’s best for: I will only recommend Roam Research if the primary purpose is to take notes and link thoughts and ideas. But it’s not at all functional for tasks like project management, creating databases, team collaboration, etc. If this is something you need, go for tools like Coda, Anytype, or ClickUp.

Conclusion

As you saw in this post, it’s hard to find a perfect alternative to Notion. For most of the security paranoids out there, Anytype (once it’s launched) is the closest one, or else you can go with Coda (Google Chrome based).

Looking for powerful knowledge management? Go for Obsidian or Roam Research.

Would you like all the power of a database loaded with automations and not just your spreadsheet? Airtable!

If you are looking for a good project management-centric alternative to Notion, then ClickUp is the best in the game, but not for anything more than that.