A better way to use MobileSync with GoodReader?

I use my iPad to mark up and annotate documents, and was expected that DEVONthink To Go would help with this. Unfortunately, according to DEVONthink’s tech support staff, one cannot yet annotate / mark up any documents within DT To Go. I understand that one needs to use 3rd party app’s (e.g., GoodReader) to annotate documents. The problem is that in order to so, I wouldn’t be able to save changes directly to the original files. I want to avoid saving annotated files as separate files (under some arbitrary numeric file name, which makes it impossible to identify). I also want to avoid have such files (that I’ve annotated in a 3rd party app) bounce to another folder / location in DTP To Go (which makes it impossibly difficult to locate them). Please let me know if there is another way to do this… Thanks!

If I’m unable to save directly to the files or keep them from bouncing to another locations in DTP To Go, it seems like it would best to forgo DTP To Go and just use GoodReader - to mark up / annotate files, save changes directly to the original files, and keep them in a single directory (so that I don’t have duplicate files that are bounced to different areas).

Ideally, I’d like to integrate these functions w/ DTP To Go, esp. since I’ve labeled, tagged, and prioritized my reading material within DTP’s Mobile Sync. But if that’s not possible, is there a way to sync my files that I’ve stored in my Mobile Sync folder directly with GoodReader?

Is that’s not possible, then would is the best way to sync my selected DTP files with GoodReader so that that they be contained in particular area, and retain the organization and tagging that I’m assigned them in DTP?

I’d welcome any ideas or suggestions…

Thanks!

As much as I like DEVONthink, it’s too much of a swiss army knife that for my purposes is not good for annotation, anything but basic editing, data sync, or the iOS domain. IMO, not many desktop apps transitioned well to iOS. So, better to find ways to make DEVONthink partner with iOS apps that do these things right.

GoodReader is my preferred app on iOS for annotation and editing. I keep certain folders in all of my databases that are indexed to a set of “@GR” (GoodReader) folders in Dropbox. GoodReader does an excellent job of synchronizing with Dropbox. When I need to annotate or edit material on the go, I put it into the DEVONthink group that’s indexed to the @GR Dropbox folders, move the document externally (Control-click > Move to External Folder), fire up the iPad and sync GoodReader, then get to work. Afterwards, I sync GoodReader again, and when I’m finished I go back to my indexed @GR group and move the document back into the database.

Thank you so much for this incredibly helpful reply! I was hoping to use DEVONthink To Go, but frankly don’t see any useful way to apply it (at least for what I do). Such a shame I bought if for my iPad and iPhone… I’ve got a few quick questions about what you wrote…

I was hoping that I could just use DTP’s Mobile Sync folder, since I’ve already placed my files in there - many of which I’ve created as replicants to other folders, so I assumed that transfering them back would also mean transferring the annotations I would make on the iPad. Is that possible? If not, I suppose I could just create a separate folder and move the files in there and loose all the replication features (which would be a real shame).

Also, does this process mean that you’d loose and of the tagging / labels created in DTP? I’m asking because I’ve created labels for each document in order to gauge their importance (e.g., document that I’ve labeled “urgent” are the ones I need to read ASAP). Would I still be able to retain such labels and sort them w/in DropBox?

Finally…I tried move a dummy folder and document externally (Control-click > Move to External Folder) but no such option exists. What do I need to do?

I’m assuming that this means one should create two folders - one for unannotated and one for annotated files - to keep track of files that have / haven’t been marked up. Is that what you do (or would advise)?

Thanks again…

@jprint714, I’ll outline the steps. I don’t use the Mobile Sync group for this at all – Mobile Sync is designed only for synchronization with DTTG.

This isn’t the only way to do this, it’s just my own approach:

  1. Assuming you have Dropbox installed, then in your Dropbox folder create at least one folder for syncing with GoodReader.
  2. Index that folder in DEVONthink. File > Index. This gives you a DEVONthink group (group is DEVONthink’s term for folder) with the same name as the Dropbox folder. Let’s say the Dropbox folder and the indexed DEVONthink group are called “My GoodReader”
  3. Inside DEVONthink, put your document(s) into My GoodReader
  4. Move the document(s) to the indexed Dropbox folder – command click > Move to External Folder. These files are still part of the DEVONthink database, they’re just not stored there. At this point they are stored in Dropbox.
  5. Synchronize GoodReader to that Dropbox folder. Do your work there. And synchronize again.
  6. Back in DEVONthink, move the document(s) back to being stored in the database – command click > Move Into Database
  7. At this point, you can move your documents anywhere else in DEVONthink you want

The folder first has to exist in the filesystem, then you index it in DEVONthink, and then the Move to Extrernal Folder / Move Into Database commands will be present for documents in that indexed group (the terminology here is confusing, sorry :confused: )

Yes, unfortunately that is true with this approach. If you use move a replicant to an external folder it is no longer a replicant, it’s a stand-alone duplicate. There’s no way around that.

No. If you move the documents in and out of the database using the Move commands, your labels and tags will be preserved. Labels are a DEVONthink-only attribute (they have nothing to do with labels in Finder), so Dropbox won’t know anything about them. Tags are stored as OpenMeta tags when DEVONthink does a Move to External Folder and Dropbox should preserve them. “Should” – I’ve heard cases where Dropbox failed to preserve OpenMeta tags so test and verify before committing your hard work to this. However, as long as the document is part of the database (either as an indexed file or one that’s stored internally) the tags should be preserved.

That makes sense.

Thank you very much for your help with all of this. I’ve finally had a chance to text this, and figure out where it works and doesn’t quite do what I’m trying to do. I’m hoping you or someone else will have some ideas on how to proceed!

Yes, I figured. Just trying to see if I can still somehow salvage some of its functionality.

I greatly appreciate how much time you took to spell all of this out for me…

Before I details some problems I’ve faced, and features I was hoping to include, I’ll explain my whole process…

(1) When I capture and save files / docs to DTP, I store them to my “Work” database’s Inbox.
(2) From there, I assess triage the files in order of importance, and label them: I. Urgent (color :: red) ; II. High (color :: orange) ; III. Moderate (color :: yellow) ; IV. Low – (color :: green). (I simply changed the names for DTP’s existing color labels.)
(3) I created smart folders within my Work database in order to group any files that have been labeled with I. Urgent, II. High, III. Moderate, IV. Low are groups (and colored) accordingly.

I was hoping that I could transfer files back and forth between DTP and DTPTG so that I could retain this system of triaging, labeling and grouping my files. (Without this system, my files fall into a disorganized mass or disparate files!) And…I was hoping I could continue my process through the following steps:

(4) Sort my files in DTPTG by label (I. Urgent, II. High, III. Moderate, IV. - and used roman numerals to maintain an ascending order, though I could have used alphabetical)
(5) Open my files and annotate them within DTPTG and / or annotate the files in a 3rd party app but saving them in the same file locations with DTPTG and under the same file name !
(6) After annotating and saving these files, I would sync them back to DTP within MobileSync (which I set up to replicate with the smart folders w/ the prioritization labeling - in order to sync, in a sense, the changes made to files n DTPTG and the smart folders I created for the prioritized files in DTP)
(7) I would finally move the annotated and save files into their permanent folder within the Wok database

Unfortunately, this system breaks down because DTPTG can neither sort by label nor annotate can DTPTG annotate files (or use a 3rd party app while saving them in the same file locations with DTPTG and under the same file name). Hence my query: Is there a better way to use MobileSync with GoodReader?

You’ve graciously outlined a fine system. But…it appears that I wouldn’t be able to use almost any level of the system that I set up for the following reason…

It seems that the process you’ve outline effectively means that that I would no longer be able to utilize the labels and grouping system I’ve created in DTP to triage the hundreds of documents collect and need to sort out for reading and annotating - and then filing back into my DTP databases and folders. As far I can tell, none of the labels transfer over into GoodReader - and it doesn’t appear that GoodReader has the capacity to read or sort these labels. You dig?

So…I’m wondering: (a) If I’m overlooking anything that would enable me to retain some semblance of the labels and grouping system to retain the organizational order I’ve created in DTP? (b) If there’s another process you might recommend in lieu of the one I’ve created that basically accomplishes the same results? © If not, if it appears that the only solution is to basically use the system of DropBox / GoodReader to annotate and transfer small batches of files?

That leads me to one other hitch I’ve discovered…

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to move a Synced DropBox file - from within GoodReader - from its original folder to another (new) one once the file has be completely annotated. Do you have another solution for this end of the process?

One last question… This entire system we’v discuss involves annotation for PDF files. Is it possible to devise a similar system to annotate Word or RTF doc’s for the iPad (that is, to mark up documents in the way that GoodReader does for PDFs, and to create a similar system for syncing w/ DTP)?

Thanks a million for all of your tremendous help and insight… I’m very grateful!

As I said, this is just my own way of doing things. Work out what makes sense for yourself. Good luck with that.

You’ll never get labels syncing with anything else the way you’re envisioning. Labels and tags are fragile attributes and there are no reliable, universal, programming standards that you can rely on to build a rock-solid workflow. Consider using prefixes or suffixes on your document names, changing the prefix/suffix string to reflect status.

Read Help at goodiware.com. Perhaps adjust the sync settings on that folder. E.g.,

I totally hear you. And I thank you again… As I said, I thought it might be helpful if I spelled out what exactly I was trying doing from cradle to grave w/ my saving to DTP, triaging al al labeling, syncing with the iPad, annotating, sync from the iPad to DTP again, and then storing annotated files into their appropriate database / folders. My hope was that the level of details I provided could clarify what I’ve been trying to do, to see if there’s a better solution on the syncing and annotating side, and…well, maybe DTP might devise a better solution in the future!

Gotcha. I’m not that tech savvy, so thanks for the explanation. A pity that the label syncing can’t work yet… Maybe in some future version of DTP!

That seems like a pretty easy solution. Thanks! Were you suggesting that I just use something like a symbol or character at the front or end of the file name?

This might be a nutty questions, but is there some kind of scripting or automatic process that would add a prefixes or suffixes to documents that I’ve labeled with the schema that I described in my earlier post (i.e., I. Urgent - IV. Low)? That could be one way in which I could maintain the triaging and organization structure I’ve designed w/o the labels. Make sense? That…would be fantastic!

Read Help at goodiware.com. Perhaps adjust the sync settings on that folder. E.g.,


[/quote]
That worked! Your’e a genius… Thanks so much again for all of your help with this! I greatly appreciate it…

This is scriptable, but it seems like a one-time effort – converting your labels to your pre-/suffixes isn’t something you’d likely repeat. I’d suggest exploring and experimenting with the variety of renaming scripts that come with DEVONthink and are located in the Menu > Scripts > Rename folder. (Look also at Help > Support Assistant > Install Extras for installing new or updated versions of scripts.)

Once you’ve decided what scheme you’ll use, and how your current labels map to that, then make smart groups to search for each of the existing labels, select the documents in that group, and apply the script to the documents with that color label.

On the GoodReader side, there’s no mass re-naming feature, AFAIK.

Whatever works for you. Symbols might not carry over correctly to other computers or programs, so I’d avoid them. Personally, I prefer prefixes for dating when I acquired a document, and suffixes for information about how I’ve handled the document. Others in the forum (notably Bill DeVille) prefer suffixes for everything.

Done. This works great! The only minor request is… Is there a way to set up a function so that documents that have a particular label and / or exist in a Smart Folder, are automatically have their prefix changed? Thanks!

Not completely. Scripts attached to smart folders do not automatically run (more accurately … I’ve never been successful at that), and even if they did, you’d need to select the smart folder to trigger the script.

Using the structure of the following example script, though, you could use Tools > Search, limit your search to the database in question and the label in question, and script the change you want to make.

tell application id "com.devon-technologies.thinkpro2"
	repeat with thisItem in (the selection as list)
		if the label of thisItem is 0 then
			[do something to change the name]
		end if
	end repeat
end tell

A couple points about this example:

  1. in a script, labels are referenced by index number – the index runs from “0” (no label) to “7” (the last label in the list.
  2. the piece about [do something to change the name] is there because I don’t know what you want to change

Hi,

I’ve used this system, mostly with much success. However…I find that when I “command click > Move to External Folder” to sync a folder’s contents up with DropBox (and therein DTP->GoodReader) and when I “command click > Move Into Database” to sync a folder’s contents with DropBox (and therein GoodReader->) I loose the indexing faculties of the folders that I’ve created and are shared between DTP and DropBox. What am I doing wrong? Thanks!

I don’t know that I exactly understand the question, but when an indexed document (or folder containing documents) is Moved into Database it is no longer indexed; no longer stored in Dropbox.

I use Step 6 before I relocate the documents in my DEVONthink database (Step 7) because I don’t intend to keep DEVONthink and GoodReader synchronized after I’m finished doing my work in GoodReader.

That’s optional. An indexed document can be moved anywhere you wish – if you keep track of the fact that it is part of your DEVONthink <-> Dropbox <-> GoodReader sync workflow. Say, by using a particular label or tag to signify that that sync workflow is active for a given folder or document. (DEVONthink/DEVONthink to Go does this automatically for you because it uses the in-built Sync group.)

(I’d mention, apropos of nothing, that I use the general case – DEVONthink <-> Dropbox <-> [any iPad App] workflow – for more than GoodReader.)

Hi!

It is easy to annotate files from DTP in GoodReader in the manner described by Korm without changing anything to the tagging and grouping system in DTP (and without need for complicated scripting and prefixing) if you replicate rather than move the documents to the group synced with Goodreader via Dropbox:

  1. Create a folder ‘Sync DT with GR’ (or any other name you like) on Dropbox

  2. Index that folder in DEVONthink (File > Index). This gives you a DEVONthink group ‘Sync DT with GR’.

  3. Inside DEVONthink, replicate the documents you want to annotate in GoodReader to the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group.

  4. Move the document(s) in the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group in DT to the ‘Sync DT with GR’ folder on Dropbox (‘Move to External Folder’ in the contextual menu of the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group).

This moves the documents to the Dropbox folder and redirects their references (replicants) in DT. Hence, it changes nothing in your group and tagging system and (as long as the Dropbox folder is available) the files can be accessed from within DT as before.

Note, however that DT doesn’t keep track of modifications made outside DT. So the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group must be reindexed after modification with e.g. GoodReader.

To annotate your documents in GoodReader continue as follows:

  1. Synchronize GoodReader with the ‘Sync DT with GR’ folder on Dropbox.

  2. As soon as you start annotating GoodReader will ask you whether you want to create an annotated copy or save the annotations to the existing file. Choose the latter option (‘save to this file’).

  3. When ready, sync GoodReader with Dropbox to move the annotated files back to the ‘Sync DT with GR’ folder on Dropbox.

  4. Update DT’s index (File > Update Indexed Items) to incorporate the modifications in DT’s index.

You can leave the files in the external ‘Sync DT with GR’ folder as long as you like (this might be useful if you want to continue to annotate them later).

When you want to remove the files from the Dropbox ‘Sync DT with GR’ folder (or need to have the annotated files back in the DT database for other reasons) proceed as follows:

  1. Move the files in the ‘Sync DT with GR’ Dropbox folder back into DT (‘Move into database’ in the contextual menu of the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group in DT).

As a result the documents in the external folder are imported into DevonThink and removed from Dropbox. All the references (replicants) in DT to the external folder are redirected. Hence, nothing changes in your grouping and tagging system.

  1. Delete the replicants of the reimported files from the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group to avoid confusion.

If you remove files from the ‘Sync DT with GR’ folder in other ways than described in step 9, all their references in DT will be removed from your DT system as soon as you reindex the external folder.

So, do not rename, move, delete or trash files in the ‘Sync DT with GR’ folder on Dropbox and do not let GoodReader delete remote files!

In addition, I recommend not to delete references to external files from the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group in DevonThink, as this might easily lead to confusions.

I also suggest excluding the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group from classification, search and see also (select the group and open the inspector to do so).

Thank you so much for such a great, and detailed description, of this set up! It took me a while to get to it, but I’ve followed your instructions and it seems to work great!

A few quick questions…

(1) Why do you suggest

?

(2) After following your guidelines, I’m wondering if the replication system isn’t a redundancy. I made a “Sync DT” folder, and then created subfolders inside of it (named by the topic of the files I insert into the folders). When I sync everything on GoodReader and through DTP, the log shows which files have been changed (annotated). So, is there another reason why I should use the replicant system? If not, I might just insert files into the existing folder system I’ve created, and then sync things as you’ve outline (while selecting “Move Into Database” after annotating and syncing files, and then moving them into their final DTP folder). Does that make sense to you?

(3) This might not be possible, but it doesn’t hurt to ask… I created a smart folder system for these files in order to label the importance of reading them (i.e., High, Medium, Low). I tried syncing them into GoodReader, but (not surprisingly) it didn’t carry over. Is there any other way in which I might be able to sync smart folders or labels that I created in DTP to GoodReader - just so I can identify which reader is High, Medium, Low?

Thanks so much!

Smart Groups are merely saved searches - there is nothing inside them. Try dragging a Smart Group to the Desktop - it comes up empty. Labels and tags do not sync to GoodReader. If you want a reliable replacement for labels and/or tags, I’d suggest either using a document-name prefix or suffix scheme, or moving documents among subfolders for High, Medium, Low.

That’s an interesting idea. Is there shortcut for creating this process? I enjoy the ease of labeling / tagging files (esp. for quickly sorting high, medium, low priority reading). So, it would be helpful to find some quick way of employing the process your suggested. Thanks!

jprint714 » Sun 27 May 2012 23:42:

After following your guidelines, I’m wondering if the replication
system isn’t a redundancy. I made a “Sync DT” folder, and then created
subfolders inside of it (named by the topic of the files I insert into
the folders). When I sync everything on GoodReader and through DTP, the
log shows which files have been changed (annotated). So, is there
another reason why I should use the replicant system? If not, I might
just insert files into the existing folder system I’ve created, and then
sync things as you’ve outline (while selecting “Move Into Database”
after annotating and syncing files, and then moving them into their
final DTP folder). Does that make sense to you?

It is not entirely clear to me what is and what is not in DevonThink in your setup. For example when you write ‘I might just insert files into the existing folder system I’ve created’, do you talk about adding files to a subfolder of the “Sync DT” folder in the Finder, or about moving references to a document within DevonThink to the ‘Sync DT’ group?

In this context, it is important to keep in mind the distinction between a document (file) and a reference to a document (file) as well as that between groups in DevonThink and folders in the Finder. The entries in ‘DevonThink’s file system’ are in fact references to files (documents). The files themselves can be inside the DevonThink database or outside that database in an indexed folder. Replicating and moving references have no effect on the corresponding files: when you replicate a reference to a certain document you create a new reference to that document; when you move a reference the document remains were it is. Similarly, when you move a file from a DevonThink database to an external folder or the other way round all its references remain where they are. Duplicate duplicates the document and creates a (new) reference to that document. Deleting a reference on the other hand may affect the file to which it refers: when the only reference to a file in the DevonThink database (that is when the reference has no replicants) is deleted, the file is deleted together with that reference and when the only reference to a file in an indexed folder is deleted you get a dialog asking whether or not that file should be deleted together with the reference.

On Wed 28 Dec 2011 23:41 Korm suggested transferring PDFs from DevonThink to GoodReader and back by means of an indexed ‘Sync DT with GR’ folder on DropBox.

I had the impression that you were worried that in this way would lose the existing organization in your DevonThink database (for example, you wrote “I suppose I could just create a separate folder and move the files in there and loose all the replication features (which would be a real shame)” (Thu 29 Dec 2011 0:29) and “It seems that the process you’ve outline effectively means that that I would no longer be able to utilize the labels and grouping system I’ve created in DTP to triage the hundreds of documents collect and need to sort out for reading and annotating - and then filing back into my DTP databases and folders” (Tue 03 Jan 2012 12:31).

This (loosing the existing organization) is indeed what would happen if you would move references to documents in DevonThink from the group were they are to the indexed ‘Sync DT with GR’ group in order to annotate them, and move them back to their original position after annotation. However, you would not loose the existing organization if you would replicate rather then move the references to the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group, for in that case nothing would change in the existing organization (the existing references (replicants) remain were they are!). For the same reason, there would be no need to move a reference back from the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group to its original position after reimporting its document into the DevonThink database (step 9): you can simply delete its reference in the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group (step 10) (all the other references to that document are still were they are!). (Note that contrary to what you suggest “moving files into into their final DTP folder” after annotation and syncing is not part of the workflow I suggested!)

The assumption that you do not want your annotation workflow to interfere with the existing organization of your DevonThink database was also behind my suggestion to exclude the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group from classification etc.: if the only reference to a document is in the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group that document has no place in the existing organization.

So, the reason for replicating rather than moving references to the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group is first that in this way the annotation workflow does not interfere with the organization of your database and second that there is no need to keep track of the origin of a reference in order to move it back.

From what you write (“I made a “Sync DT” folder, and then created subfolders inside of it (named by the topic of the files I insert into the folders)”) I have the impression that you duplicated the existing organization of your database within the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group and the corresponding folder. If this is a way of keeping track of the origin of the reference I like to point out that there is no need for tracking the origin when you replicate. So in that case one of the two is redundant indeed, but as replicating references is easier than duplicating the organization I would prefer replicating over duplicating. On the other hand, if duplicating the organization is a way of having the same organization on DropBox as in DevonThink, I would neither duplicate nor replicate but rather move the relevant groups (or even the entire database) into the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group.

I think there is, but I haven’t tried it:

  1. create ‘high’ ‘medium’ and ‘low’ groups within your ‘Sync DT with GR’ folder and group

  2. select the content of your High, Medium and Low smart groups and replicate the selected content to the corresponding ‘high’, ‘medium’ and ‘low’ groups in the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group (you can do this manually or by means of an apple script).

  3. move files in and out the database, and sync and annotate them as described above.

  4. delete the content of the ‘high’, ‘medium’ and ‘low’ groups in the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group when your priorities change and repeat step 2.

I wrote:

The part after the colon is a bit unclear. What I meant is this:

First, it makes no sense to have the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group pop up when you classify your documents because this group is not part of the organization of your database, it is there only for the interaction with GoodReader.

Second and more important: precisely because the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group isn’t part of the organization of your database you don’t want DevonThink’s artificial intelligence to take this group into account (and, for example, determine that this document fits better in the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group than in a group that is part of the organization). What belongs and what does not belong in the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group is determined not by how well a document fits with the other documents in that group but by your wish to study it!

Yesterday, I pointed to the possibility to create ‘high’ ‘medium’ and ‘low’ groups within the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group.

Because I suddenly remember :confused: that you already have topic groups within your ‘Sync DT with GR’ group, I like to add a warning: a file can have only one place.

If you put a reference in one of the priority groups to a file already referred to in one of the topic groups (or the other way round) strange things might happen. If that file is already in the external folder of the topic group it will probably not appear in the relevant priority folder. I have no idea what happens if that file is in the database and you move it to the external folder, but I am sure that what happens is not what you want.

So it is probably not a good idea to have both topic groups and priority groups in your ‘Sync DT with GR’ group at the same level in the hierachy. You can have topic groups with priority subgroups (or the other way round), though.

More generally: avoid having replicants within indexed groups (of course, you can have as many replicants outside indexed groups of references in an indexed group–that is the key of the set up I suggested) .

And now I think of it: the same problem might rise if you duplicate too much of the organization of your database into the ‘Sync DT with GR’ group (for instance if you have references to the same document in different topic groups).