Dendron: a personal knowledge management tool on top of VSCode

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Seeing quite a few PKMs now - it’s good to know I’m not the only one who has a folder full of .txt/.md files :joy:

What do you think of it DG? What’s it like compared to Obsidian?


I havent tried Dendron yet, it attracted me because it’s based on VSCode. Tomorrow I’m going on a 4 days trip and a week later I may get a chance to try it.


its a really nice tool, but it’s so complex to start for nothing, sometimes I think too overwhelming for me and I more enjoy to use a simple blog and posting my TIL’s(Today I Learn)


If you are on the hunt for a PKM and want something built on VSCode you can also have a look at Foam. I believe it is closer in spirit to Obsidian and Roam but I don’t have personal experience with it so can’t speak for how well it works.


Plus one for Foam. I have been using it for months after trying out Roam, Notion, Dendron, Obsidian, and others. I love that it is VSCode-based, and not as opinionated as Dendron. I’ve added hundreds of notes to mine, and with a bit of VSCode tweaking it fits the way I think and work like a glove (a few tasks and keybindings to generate new notes, custom publishing with frontmatter on Gatsby although I intend to replace that with something else eventually, fonts and colors, etc.).

I’ve decided there is a lot of variation in how people think and record ideas, the important thing is that you stick with whatever helps you be more productive.


I’ve started using org-roam as a zettelkasten and it’s pretty good so far. It’s like org-mode massaged into a slip-box with SQLite coordinating backlinks, and you get all of the org-mode jungle with it. I personally love having a zillion interconnected text files as a notes system.

I’d consider Foam or Dendron but I’ve usually got VSCode open with… code. How do you peeps make this ergonomic?

With Spacemacs I have either the emacs app or terminal ready for me, Spacemacs having somehow become my mostly-non-code text editor. Just tested and literally takes two to five unrushed seconds from anywhere on my machine to be in a new note or searching the existing ones, which is also extremely fast and convenient. And it’s emacs so I can customize until I run out of food or money (but have learned to ignore elisp’s siren song).

Still I don’t know if this is better than other ways. Maybe I’m just giving in to a sunk cost fallacy with emacs after so many hours of painful (and pleasurable?) fiddling, but by now it’s really pretty intuitive. Ideally I’d like something with a great mobile story. Maybe taking the plunge with a Roam Research or Obsidian is worth it, I can’t say.

I also use Notion for longer form ideas, esp if they might include illustrations and I might want to share with others.

I can almost just barely see through the swirling mists of my imagination to my holy grail of notes & composition & organization. In the spirit of UNIX philosophy it would do one thing only but do it well. In this case that one thing would be to run your life. :eyes: :volcano:


Adding in some feedback here after a few months: I made the jump from Foam to Dendron.

I really liked how open Foam is to adaptation to exactly what you want, but I found that the things that Dendron brings that Foam lacks are a few more batteries:

  1. If you have two notes on two different angles in the same topic, Foam doesn’t proscribe any way to differentiate between the two. It’s up to the user to name notes in a way that works for them.
    By contrast, Dendron comes with the notion of a hierarchy. Every note belongs somewhere in some hierarchy. You still come up with them, but the structure is helpful for having a place for everything more naturally, and without the need to constantly refactor your notes or resort to files named with opaque IDs.
  2. Dendron has VC backing that is giving more momentum to the founding team to build something great and competitive, but it’s still VSCode and open source on the basic level. Foam hit some bumps in the road with the community maintaining it, whereas dendron has a clear view of how to get there.
  3. Dendron includes all the stuff Foam can do, and more around maintaining a lot of notes. I’m confident that I really can get my data in and out of Dendron, whereas Foam made it easy to add stuff but not as easy to find what I was looking for without doing a full text search. The hierarchies really do help a lot. Dendron makes it easy to rename hierarchies, too, without much difficulty.

I would definitely recommend Dendron to anyone that’s already in VS Code and wanting to get started in note taking like this.

I have multiple windows/workspaces open. Each workspace has a set of enabled/disabled extensions to keep it all clean and orderly - so dendron only runs on my dendron workspaces. I have two VSCode workspaces open for two different dendron projects that should be completely separate. My primary workspace is my day to day coding environment. They all stay on different desktops, making it easy to focus on the task at hand but still having my notes in reach when I want them.

All things considered, I think that the only meaningful advice in building a system like this is “Start”. Start writing, start playing with it, explore ideas, and build something that works for you.


I tried Dendron, and I loved it. I’m planning to use it more and more. I will also move some of my notes which live under a Basecamp project, to Dendron.

There is a nice short tutorial at Egghead called Upgrade your note taking workflow with VS Code and Dendron.

Here are the settings I added to dendron.code-workspace under "setting"{}, so that I know from the different statusbar color, where I am, whenever I’m running two visual studio code windows, one for Dendron.

"workbench.colorCustomizations": {
    "[GitHub Light Default]": {
        "statusBar.background": "#72f879",
        "statusBar.foreground": "#006105"

If you are using more than two workspaces at a time, I recommend Peacock extension by John Papa.