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Self-Hosting Guide to Alternatives: Notion 4 min read

Self-Hosting Guide to Alternatives: Notion

Self-hosted alternatives for the popular collaboration platform

By Ethan Sholly
Self-Hosting Guide to Alternatives: Notion Post image

Notion is a popular SaaS platform utilized by individuals and teams to compile knowledge, information, ideas, tasks, and projects into collaborative workspaces. With a user count in the millions – including individuals and large corporations – it's one of the most sought after platforms by users of self-hosted and open source software.

As a result, a number of self-hosted alternatives have surfaced in the last several years that have made it easier to replicate Notion's functionality without sacrificing privacy or reliance on third-parties.


AFFiNE Screenshot

AFFiNE is one of the more popular self-hosted alternatives to Notion – and for good reason. The platform features a heavily inspired interface and similar functionality focused on docs, wikis, storyboarding, mind mapping, project tracking, and moodboards (despite not having published a v1.0 release as of the time of writing).

The platform also recently launched AI features similar to Notion's own AI offerings to assist users with writing, drawing, and generating presentations. Unfortunately, these features are limited to the paid hosting option and not available in the software's self-hosted offering.

Deployment of AFFiNE is fairly straightforward – the documentation provides instructions for spinning up the software via Docker Compose, which consists of an image for the server as well as instances of PostgreSQL and Redis for storage and memory caching.


Outline Screenshot

Outline is a self-hosted alternative to Notion popular for its polished web interface, ease-of-use, and integration support.

Unlike AFFiNE, however, Outline seems to fall a bit short as a complete replacement for Notion. It functions extremely well as a collaborative wiki and note-taking application, but lacks some of the bells and whistles (mostly the various content types) that have allowed teams to replace several tools of varying functionality with a single platform.

Outline also offers AI integration in the form of answers to contextual questions within a given workspace, but limits it to the paid hosting options offered by the developers as well.

Historically, Outline's sticking point has been its deployment options, which initially required S3 for storage and only supported third-party authentication options (Google, Microsoft, Slack). It has since released updates that allow users to leverage local storage and other self-hosted authentication options (OIDC, magic links, SAML) that eliminate any dependence on third-parties for deployment.

Looking for self-hosted alternatives to other popular hosted platforms? Check out, a directory of self-hosted software with filters for tags and alternatives.


SiYuan Screenshot

Next on the list is SiYuan, a self-hosted Notion alternative that places a bit more emphasis on privacy and offline capabilities (although offline sync and local storage apply to most of the applications on this list).

SiYuan's interface resembles Notion's, but is less polished and appears more cluttered than the aforementioned alternatives. Despite this, the platform makes up for its appearance with a feature set beyond just note-taking and documentation – flashcards, database views, OCR, block focus, and its own protocol.

Unlike the other options, SiYuan's AI offerings aren't locked behind paid hosting options and the platform provides writing, translation, abstracts, and spelling/grammar correction help in the form of assistance via OpenAI integration.

Deployment of SiYuan is very straightforward – only a single Docker container is required to get the web application up-and-running. The development team also supports installation across a number of other platforms (including mobile apps) for users looking to manage their workspaces elsewhere – although sync across applications and for offline capabilities does come with a cost.


Anytype Screenshot

Anytype is a relatively young contender in the space of Notion alternatives, but that doesn't make it a lesser option. The platform provides a similar amount of content types and views (table, Kanban, galleries, database, etc.) while being a bit more innovative with its interface – unlike the others, its sidebar consists of groups of tiles displaying information rather than a list of navigation items.

Anytype's capabilities can be best observed in its Experience Gallery, where the team has compiled examples of how users have utilized the tool to track data and information. Interestingly, the project is the only on the list to make a reference to itself as a no-code/low-code solution, which might also make it a viable AirTable alternative (more on that in a future post).

However, deploying Anytype can be convoluted and extremely confusing for newcomers. Users looking to deploy the self-hosted offering will need to run the latest version of Any-Sync server, which acts as a sync node for the various desktop and mobile applications (it is not a browser-based application). The server requires MongoDB, S3-compatible storage, and Redis to run properly.

Honorable Mentions

In my research for this article, I found several applications referring to themselves as Notion alternatives that didn't quite fit the bill as replacements for the platform in its entirety. In many cases, they were note-taking applications designed to resemble Notion's interface but without its various content types and views.

Regardless, I'm a big proponent of self-hosted software and believe any efforts to replicate SaaS platform functionality should be commended. So in no particular order, here are some other options worth considering:

What did I miss?

Did I miss anything? Feel free to drop a comment or reach out using any of the communication methods listed on the site's contact page to get in touch.