A major “worry” in thinking about using DT is that one can no longer see files and folders by just doing the normal Finder navigation. Yes, they can be recovered by exporting the entire data base, and they exist deep in the DT file structure, but they appear to be gone. Don’t underestimate how off-putting this is. EagleFiler, in contrast, does not have this problem.
Another manifestation of the issue arises when I have to dig up an old file. It may not show up in Spotlight (too many items come up or, for some reason or another the file I want does not appear even if it should). I would like to browse through old Finder folder structure to find it, but instead I have to open DT, open the right data base, etc. etc.,
RECOMMENDATION: provide a readily accessible function that would generate a data base’s file structure in “Finder format.” The resulting window could be entirely virtual so long as it looked right and could be operated upon. I believe that this should be easy to implement along the path of code that allows DT to export a data base’s contents. I also believe that it would be an important selling point and a very useful feature.
Like, say, the existing Show in Finder command?
As others have pointed out, using the Finder to manipulate files inside the database is a really bad idea, due to data corruption issues. So an option that would let you see into a database without launching DT will probably not happen. If having the files be visible in Finder is important, though, you can always choose to Index rather than Import your data.
The “Show in Finder” option is very useful, but–as you realize-- it applies only after opening a DT data base.
Your second point is very important: if one could move files around in the virtual Finder-View window, it WOULD cause trouble. Darn. However, it might be possible to limit operations so as to preclude that. I don’t know what “permissions” or the like apply to virtual folders and files.
I have tried indexing rather than importing, but ultimately concluded that it was too much trouble (keeping a “real” folder as well as a DT data base merely for virtual cataloging, searching, etc. Coordinating/synchronizing across computers was also more complicated. Perhaps others have been happier with the indexing approach than I have found myself to be.
If one wishes to browse the folder structure without launching DT, then indexing is the only pleasant option. If one wishes to browse the folder structure for imported files (and indexed), then launching DT and browsing the folder structure is the way to go. If you wish to “generate a database’s file structure in ‘Finder Format’” then consider using File > Export > Files and Folders.
In any event, unless you delete a document from your database, it is not gone. Appearances aside. In the tens of thousands of hours of DT use represented by those on this forum, and users who never use the forum, you won’t find many (if any?) reports here of DT inexplicably vanishing a user’s documents. DT actually is trustworthy. (As for anything, back up your databases! )
If Spotlight is not finding files in your databases, be sure that File > Database Properties… for your database has the Create Spotlight Index option chosen. If the Spotlight problem persists, then on that same Database Properties panel select “Rebuild” to rebuild the Spotlight index for that file. If the problem still persists, be sure that in System Preferences > Spotlight > Search Results you have told Spotlight to index the category for the document you are searching for.
Anyone know if that’s explained anywhere other than scattered forum posts? Seems to comes up relatively often and is important enough to be FAQ-worthy.
[EDIT: Removed link/quote from beta subforum. Thanks, korm. ]
And as of 2.0pb8 that includes the Global Inbox:
• NEW: Global inbox supports File > Database Properties and therefore Spotlight support and sharing can be enabled.
(c.f. Inbox & Spotlight not playing together)
Comment: I’ll hazard a guess that the structure chosen by Christian for files stored within the database is among the reasons why DT is more scalable to large database sizes while remaining more responsive than is EagleFiler. He has noted that this structure is dynamic. The Path of a document can change for a reason that has nothing to do with a change in its group location.
DT uses a common structuring technique for performance in large data models. The database-based file system used in DT avoids significant degradation when searching, using the AI engine, etc. It offloads onto the OS the stuff that the OS manages well (document storage and retrieval) and keeps the database focused on the stuff that the proprietary algorithms manage well. My opinion - without the structure DT uses, our databases would have to be much smaller to keep the same level of performance. Not having a database-based file system is one reason Spotlight, for example, is so much less functional and slower than DT. Also my opinion - it’s a reason why indexed folders are not synchronized in real time - if they were, the performance hit would be ugly.
The computer science behind managing big data bases must be very interesting. It’s not something I know anything about.
After musing about the helpful responses to my original posting and experimenting a bit more with DTP, it seems to me that the desired functionality is that if I just used Finder to navigate, looking for something, when I run across a big DevonThink data base, such as SocialScience.Dtbase2, there would be an immediately adjacent coloful folder icon SocialScienceVirtual, which could be opened and navigated in the normal way with Finder. A file in that folder could be opened by double-clicking, would have its GetInfo window accessible, and could perhaps be duplicated (e.g., to the desktop or as an attachment to an email); but it could not be moved, renamed, or deleted.
I can imagine that such a virtual folder could be created trivially using a variant of the Export Files and Folders command. If so, the option to create such a virtual folder (either by default or upon demand) would seem to me very nice.
My guess it that the need for this cannot be appreciated by someone who uses DT consistently. For others, however, I think that it would be appreciated. It is truly disconcerting not to be able to “see” one’s files without opening DT. Spotlight returns are pretty ugly even when everything is working (except for some uniquely named file perhaps).