Downloading files uploaded to Roam Research for use with Obsidian

If you’ve recently transitioned from Roam Research to Obsidian, you might run into a few issues, even after you’ve run the “Markdown format importer” core plugin. One of the most annoying ones that I ran into was that files uploaded to Roam (images, pdfs, etc.) are automatically uploaded to Google Firebase.

Roam assets are linked to in the Markdown files like this:


Now, since Roam relies on security by obscurity on this front, the links to your assets will still be accessible in your Obsidian vault, and they’ll still render correctly. However, I still think it’s worth downloading the files for three reasons:

  • If you don’t intend to use Roam anymore and cancel your subscription, they will likely delete those assets at some point, leaving you with a lot of broken links in Obsidian.
  • Part of Obsidian’s appeal is that you own your assets. Not so if they’re on someone else’s server.
  • You can’t access Firebase files without an internet connection.

So, instead, you want to download the contents of that link and replace it in your notes with something like this:


That way, you’ll have full control over all your assets, and you won’t be dependent on those assets being stored on Firebase by Roam.

To fix this, I wrote a Python script that will:

  • Go through every file and every folder within a specified root vault directory
  • Look for links to Google Firebase
  • Download all assets from Firebase to a local folder (/assets by default), using the timestamp and index number as a filename
  • Replace the Firebase links in your vault with links to the newly downloaded files, accounting for PDFs, whose links are formatted differently in Roam as {{ pdf: ... }}

Before you run this script, I highly recommend backing up your vault or trying this out on a dummy vault.

After downloading and saving the script, run python3 on your terminal.

This worked really well for me, and I can breathe a little more easily now that my vault is self-contained.

See Also