Annotation workflow (maybe open in or tags)?

Hi, I’m trying to simplify my workflow for reading and annotating on DTTG (I have dttg and DTP, usually annotate on DTTG).

I have a lot of pdfs in folders. When I’m writing an essay, I need to access a few pdfs from within this larger number. They are always several folders deep which is a pain to navigate on DTTG. I also find it visually off putting to have to scan a folder full of pdfs to find the one I’m currently reading.

I use PDF expert to annotate because it has bookmarking but mainly because of dark mode, which I know is coming but I need something until then. I’ve previously been using the file browser of PDF Expert to navigate to the relevant folder. But I’d prefer to see what I’m currently reading listed cleanly together, even if they reside in different folders, and without the noise of other docs

So I thought that using a ‘reading’ tag in DT would help: just need to find do in its folder once, tag it (say, as ‘current’), then have easy access to it via the tag folder.

However, you can’t open the tag folder from the file browser in Files or PDF Expert.

So then I thought I could use the tag folder in DTTG and use the ‘Open In’ function to open it in PDF Expert, but there’s only a ‘copy to’ function available.
I’ve recently been alerted (on here) to the ‘recents’ folder, but this gets polluted with things I’ve read for other purposes, and also has same issue with opening it in PDF Expert.

The only other thing I can think of is to replicate the current reading items to a top level ‘reading’ folder - I can see this folder in PDF Expert file browser, but are there any issues I need to be aware of when annotating replicated docs in a third party app?

In short, my requirements are (until dark mode comes along) 1) to be able to mark in some way my current readings from their various subfolders so that I can see all current reading together, free from ‘noise’ of other docs, 2) to be able to access this at a high level of DDTG to avoid constant folder navigation 3) to be able to annotate in PDF Expert (or another annotation tool if there’s a better one for this purpose).

Any tips very welcome, please.

This is exactly what I do. I have three ‘To Read’ folders at root level of my main db (for different sorts of reading…) and tag anyting in DT3 with a relevant tag. A smart rule then replicates the PDFs so tagged to their relevant folders, and these folders I’ve set to ‘always download’ on DT2G. DT3’s ‘Reading list’ function doesn’t currently sync to iOS; and IFAIK Files can’t read the DT tags. ‘Open In’ also doesn’t (yet) work – there are many posts here about so-called ‘round-tripping’, but there isn’t a satisfactory solution yet.

Like you I also prefer to read with PDF Expert on the iPad (annotation tools and esp. the handwriting is just smoother), but here I often hit a snag (and frankly it’s a total pain). The issue is that Files app doesn’t always cache/load/show the full listing of available PDFs in these folders. They are there downloaded in DT2G, and apparently the problem is with iOS’s memory allocation (particularly on older devices). So at present I’m often faced with 10s of PDFs in the ‘To Read’ folder which I can open within DT2G, but not from my preferred PDF annotation app. I know that the devs are working on this issue of memory load. So there isn’t quite a solution for your problem yet, though there are rumours too of a significant update to DT2g which may address them. Fingers crossed – it would make my life a lot easier :slight_smile:

PS When I can access my files in Files app and annotate in PDFExpert, the experience is flawless. The annotations are instantly visible in DT2G (upon closing PE and opening DT2G), and the annotated PDFs sync back to DTP without a hitch. That these files are replicants has never caused me an issue, it’s been rock solid.

Fantastic, thank you. So the only additional bit I’m missing is to create a smart group to assist the process a bit. Brilliant, I’ll get that set up, thanks again.

Edit: I just read the last bit of your post - hmmm, so not perfect. But a start at least.

Pleasure! It works very well for me. Once I’m done with a certain project, I then clean up these ‘To Read’ folders, remove tags and replicants, and move on to the next thing so repopulate them with new files.

Your mileage may vary on the Files/PDF Expert integration (though it’s really getting in my way of late and it’s super irritating that my PDFs are there one day, and not the next (see Files app can’t load contents from DTTG). I’m almost tempted to get a newer iPad!

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I’ve had fantastic success using pdf Expert opening from ddtg via the files browser, including folders with some large PDFs, but that’s only been with real folders not smart ones, so we’ll see how that goes.

I have an iPad mini (latest) and an iPad Pro. Pdf Expert does freeze a bit with the mini, which is annoying, but I’ve not yet not been able to see things)

So just so I understand when I come to try this - they’re real folders with a rule to automatically replicate the doc, is that right?

Yes real folders containing reps of selected PDFs not a smart folder that acts as as filter. I’m actually not sure how smart folders created on DT behave on DT2G (or of they remain unique to the Mac).

I don’t think smart folders sync so a real folder sounds just the ticket. Thank you

I’m finding the same. I created a ‘current reading’ folder and manually replicated pdfs into it. I’m pretty sure they showed up in PDF Expert at that point, maybe they didn’t, but they definitely don’t now, on either of my devices- the iPad mini 5 or the 2018 ipad Pro.

So back to the drawing board…

:(. Same here, I’ve also not been able to see much of my downloaded material in DT2G folders via the Files app for a week or so now. I need another option, too. Clearly your more powerful hardware makes little difference in terms of this memory issue on iOS. I might just resort to moving the current ‘to read’ stuff out of DT entirely, into a Dropbox folder, because Files/Dropbox integration, and so PDF Expert, seems not to suffer from this problem at all. But that makes managing the files just that bit more cumbersome. Oh well – so we learn!

To be fair though, I can see the files in the original folders. That is, the documents I want to access are several folders deep so, as above, I replicated them into a top level ‘reading’ folder. The ones that are several folders deep are accessible, along with the other (large) PDFs in that folder, but the replicated ones in the top level ‘reading’ folder are not. If I look at the folder in the file browser, it says it contains two documents, and when I open it, it is empty and says zero files.

So I’m back to the drawing board in terms of workflow, at least until the apple pencil issue is resolved and dark mode available.

Ah – that’s actually not something I had checked but can also confirm (as I thought replicants are all treated as the ‘original’ file). My ‘original’ PDFs in DT2G in a huge folder containing nearly 3,000 can be seen and accessed, but their replicants in another top level folder cannot.

So iOS memory issues are either particularly affecting folders containing only replicants, or there’s something else going on. Thanks!

Thinking about it, though, and with absolutely no idea how replicants actually work, technically, is it expected behaviour that we’d be able to see them in Files or have we just made an assumption that we would? Now I’m thinking about it, if tags, and smart groups don’t sync to DTTG, it doesn’t seem surprising that replicated files don’t.

Replicants, except for the inital file aren’t shown in Files.app, due to having multiple parents.

Okay, that’s good to know, thank you. Do you have any tips to meet my requirements set out in the original post, please?

DTTG finally needs proper “Open In” support, as was requested i numerous topics.

It is THE most missing thing.

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Having worked with it more intensely for a few days, I agree. Since the additional organisation, such as tags and replication, is one of the key strengths of DT over Finder, and since the Files app is unable to make use of those aspects, it seems that either DTTG needs to be able to provide the full functionality (eg in annotation) of third party apps or it needs to implement ‘open in’ to be able to use those third party functionality without the limitations of the Files app.

It wasn’t until I started using ‘Open in’ from the Notebooks app recently that I realised just how useful it was.

Hear! Hear!

For a nearly comparable workflow I am used to flag documents inside DT and then use the DTTG smart group „flagged“ (don’t know the correct item name as I don’t use an English UI). This brings up the documents I marked for reading on the go or whatever. But I use the built in pdf reading and noting functions (with pencil) nearly all the time.

If you need to sync all database content for this is unclear as I do this anyway.

So this might be an additional caveat in other scenarios.