An Academic Writer's Suite- DT, BE, and Mellel

This has been a constant discussion that rears its head on the DT forum, the Mellel forum, and Bookends forum, and this is my latest attempt to get these three companies to work together.

Mac needs a writer’s suite. We need a powerful integrated package to do our research and writing. Mac needs an equivalent to PC’s Nota Bene. I recently met Mac users at a conference who are going to run Parallels specifically to use Nota Bene, and I don’t blame them. There is nothing of comparison for Mac, and I hate being jealous of a PC user. I was drooling at the Nota Bene presentation.

If I had the money, I would pay each of these programmer’s to do this- honestly! But I don’t, and I can only hope that instead the programmer’s will see the potential for making money by working together to form an integrated writer’s suite.

I believe that these 3 programs are the best in their area. Although there are alot of imitators, no one touches DEVONthink. Mellel has come to be the serious rival to Word, and already surpasses Word in very significant areas. It is a powerful processor for serious academic writers and is only going to get better (unlike Word which has fallen into a hole and doesn’t seem to know it). Bookends is the bibliographic manager to beat. Its formatting capabilities and aesthetic feel far surpass Endnote and Sente. To top it off, all of these companies offer excellent support and have very active forums and are easy on the wallet.

This post is going to be cross-posted in the three forums, along with a poll. What I would like to see is not only a vote, but I want posters to imagine that this integration will become a reality. How would you like to see them integrated? What functionality needs to happen? Hopefully it will jolt the developer’s into action. And this is my last attempt at trying to make this happen. If there is still no movement forward, well the owner of Nota Bene said he’d give me a free copy. :wink:

Also, even if you do not have any ideas but nonetheless would like to see this integration, please post indicating which of these 3 programs you currently use, and your full name. I’m hoping that enough people will add their name that the companies will want to act on this.

So here are my suggestions for an integrated suite of DEVONthink, Mellel, and Bookends.

  1. I do not want DT to be able to edit Mellel or Bookends- they do that perfectly fine on their own. But searching them simultaneously is a huge priority, especially being able to use DT’s AI.
  2. The Bookends Database(s) file should be viewable from in DT, and the ability to “copy citation” from within DT would be great.
  3. If I am looking at a particular BE citation in DT, double-clicking should bring that citation to the front in Bookends
  4. Similarily, Mellel documents are fully viewable in DT (like PDF’s are now). Double-clicking opens the document in Mellel.
  5. Mellel documents should be able to be saved within the DT database. This avoids two copies of Mellel documents- one in the finder one in the DT database. This also means Mellel documents can be moved around in the database to different folders and are not ‘stuck’ in an indexed folder section.
  6. DT’s wiki-links need to be enable in the Mellel files as well as the BE files.
  7. The BE database in DT needs to indicate its attachment file(s) so that they will automatically be wiki-linked and quickly accessed within the DT database. (DT can already index the BE attachments folder)
    8 ) A single shortcut key in Mellel and Bookends should launch a DT search of whatever word the cursor is placed in / or highlighted.
  8. A .txt or .rtf file in DT should be able to be opened via a contextual menu choice in Mellel. This would be beneficial to those who first draft and write out things in DT but then want to move it to Mellel.
  9. There needs to be an easy way to add wiki-link BE citation to files in the DT database.
  10. If there could be one field in BE that could somehow be edited directly from DT, it is definitely the Notes field.
  11. If the BE database could somehow retain its groups when viewed in DT, that would be great.

Please add your suggestions, critiques, names. This needs your voice.

I agree that integration between Mellel, DTP and BE would be great. I, too, would spend extra just to get them working together. Thanks for beating this drum. Please don’t stop until they’ve actually listened.

I am afraid, however, that your description of the integration will scare the developers off. That’s a long list, friend. And I think it’s a great place to aim for, in an ideal world, for a third or fourth generation integration. But let’s start with some basics:

  1. Native support in DEVONthink for Mellel documents. If DEVONthink could just read and index Mellel documents in their native format, I’d be happy. And if this was all I got, I’d still be happy. Add an “edit in Mellel” option/button in DEVONthink and I’ll dance around the room in stretchy pants.

  2. Though I’m starting to believe that DEVONthink 2.0 is a myth, I do understand that it will use finder-visible folders for storing external documents (like PDFs). In that case, it will be easy to have Bookends and Mellel share the same cache of files. Actually, since I index and not import my attached-to-Bookends PDFs, I get this already. But it is a non-intuitive drag-with-keys-down process, and easier would be better. A low priority, though.

  3. Some mechanism for importing my Bookends references into DEVONthink and – and here comes the big part – be able to update the list. Sure, I can use Bibtex to get a list of refs from BE into DT, but then what if I add another reference? I have to go through a bunch of contortions to do it (and I’m presuming here. I tried once and gave up: too much work).

  4. Everything else is gravy. Actually, everything after #1 is gravy.

I’m not familiar with NotaBene, so I can’t really compare. The “product tour” on their site (which seems to be stuck in 1995, by the way) does seem to have features that are already included in Bookends, Mellel, and DEVONthink. I agree that some more integration would be nice.

In short, I want Mellel-DEVONthink integration. Soon. Pretty-please?

Thanks for your input, and for the record, I agree with you- I’m shooting for the moon. But I see so much possibility.

But I agree with you, the first step is indexing Mellel files. The DT 2.0 folders thing will be good if it does come.

But to let you know, you can currently keep your BE attachments indexed an up to date by itself. Index your Attachments folder, then attach the Synchronize script to the folder in you DT database. This will keep it up to date.

This is why I would really like to see wikilinks in sheets right now- because like you I export my BE database to DT, and if wikilinks were available in sheets, then the attachment in BE could be wikilinked to its sheet record.

Thanks for the grounding in reality…

I’d love this too… but what I’d love more would be a user-definable button for an external editor of choice. I’m not sure if it’s possible or not, but what I picture is going to the “customize toolbar” menu, dragging some nondescript button to the toolbar and right-clicking it to define the application associated with it. Click the button and it opens the selected article in the external editor of your choice. That’d be great for storing GraphViz files in the database :open_mouth:

Or just if there’s a way to change each button’s associated application in a .plist file or something. I don’t mind hacking a bit on my own, but it’d be nice to have this capability.

Not trying to pile on features and make anything less likely or anything… just a suggestion.

I’m also on board, though I’ve already beaten this drum enough that Christian and the others’ ears probably hurt. And yes, the above list is the stuff dreams are made of…but dreamers often make the world a better place. :slight_smile: Details of some of my suggestions can be found by just doing a search in these forums for “academic”.

Dan, just make sure you don’t beat the drums so loudly that they get sick of us and just kick us off of here… :wink:

The only people who get kicked off the forum are spammers who post porn and ads for Viagra and the like. :slight_smile:

The developers share your dreams. Those of you who have been around since the early days back in 2002 know how responsive to user requests they have been. There are now many, many more users of DEVONtechnologies applications than back in 2002, and that’s important both to provide development resources and to gain status in the Mac community that could support more interoperability with other applications.

An example is the recent discussions between Christian and the developer of Scrivener that took place (in the forum!) that should result in better experience for people who use DT Pro and Scrivener.

Some things are possible now, and some may become possible in the future. So keep up the suggestions! :slight_smile:

Synchronize script? Where would I find this script? I’ve checked my scripts menu, but I don’t see it there (which doesn’t mean it isn’t, as my wife will inform you). Where is it?

Hmm, I searched the devon site…didn’t they used to havea scripts package download somewhere, or a scripts page even? That is where I found it.
Unless someone can tell you where to find it, I can email it to you on Monday.


Sometimes the scripts are in the forum; only a few are available in the scripts general webpage.

As a matter of fact, I wish someone had the work of checking where they are (“lost” into several threads here) and make them all available in an unique thread (or include them in the webpage). That would make everything so much easy.

I would also welcome that script myself. :slight_smile:

– MJ

See downloadable scripts at

There’s a Synchronize script in the More Examples package.

Thanks, Bill!

FYI, I think that future users of the “Example Scripts” might benefit from a README file with some description and direction. Actually, I would benefit from a README file…

After 6 years, I’ve returned to the academic world. I’ve got lots papers to research, write, and cite, and decided to take the time to find good tools and develop a good workflow. I figured there must have been some progress while I was out of the academic writers loop.

After about 8 hours of trying about 15 different software titles, I’ve settled on DevonThink Pro, Bookends, and Mellel. They really are incredible apps, and they are far and above the best for my needs.

That said - it’s amazing how much I have to do manually to get them all to play nice.

I would gladly pay triple for these apps for half of the functionality dreamed about in this post.

There is hope on the horizon. I started this thread and poll on all three forums for the apps you mentioned, johnrover. There is indication that it is moving along. The new URL system in Bookends helps with moving quickly from app to app, and Mellel indicated in their forum that they are looking into the issue, so I am optimistic that Mellel documents will be viewable and searchable in DT in the future. Once DT 2 descends, I think we’ll have a clearer picture of how these will work together. It will definitely be an improvement from what it is now. Keep your fingers crossed, and make sure you let all the developer’s know.

Yes, I fully agree :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

A new application for organizing PDF files has some features related to citations that I wish dearly DTP had.

See the product listing and some of my hasty commentary here:

For the record, I currently am using EndNote X. I also own a license for BookEnds, but have not really switched to it yet because I need it to support a notes field and a call number field.

Bookends does have a notes field and call number field.

Thanks for this post!

I’m also an academic, but my needs are somewhat different. I’ve never used Mellel or Bookends (today was the first I’d heard of them), though I recently migrated to LaTeX and BibTeX out of sheer desperation. I avoid Microsoft, and the latest version of Endnote seems more inclined to cater to Word than to the user. That, and cost is a major consideration. I don’t want to keep buying new packages and paying for upgrades to add more useless features every year. I very much prefer open-source, customizable software that lets you choose which plugins/add-ons/bells and whistles you need. ImageJ is a good example of this, though I’m not wild about Java programming.

I’m new to DT and just in the first week of my 30-day trial. So far I’m really impressed.

My main academic writing problem is handling images. I would like to use DT for making figures. I got part of the way, but now I’m stuck. I love the gallery of previews and the ability to group & movies things around. But.

Right now, I can’t see a way to use a layout program (like InDesign) to take advantage of all the efficient organizing I’ve been doing using DT’s thumbnails. I’m thinking the best I could do is export the new groups I’ve been making-? Or switch to using indexing instead of importing?

My point being, if I were going to use something new (and commercial) to handle writing and references, it would also have to handle figure making and editing, or at least be able to communicate with layout programs.

I believe that my current problem would be swiftly solved by the feature someone mentioned is supposedly coming in DT 2.0- being able to make DT’s folders (?) visible to outside programs.

In short, there is DEFINITELY a market for a program or suite of integrated programs designed for academic writers. Nothing like that exists right now (that I know of).