This is indeed a common need, and many dozens of thoughtful readers have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours, literally, discussing this at length here on these forums over the years. You can access every aspect of the topic using the “Advanced Search” feature of the forum and search for: “indexing vs. importing”. The research has already been done for you – please dig in.
I recommend anything on this topic by Bill DeVille, Greg Jones (Greg_Jones) and Christopher Mayo (FROBGOBLIN). Read Christopher’s blog on the topic. Read Joe Kissell’s book on DEVONthink.
Indexing was a great idea, but for me, it was not usable because of one little feature that messed up all my initially planned workflow that could have been perfect:
you cannot Sync indexed Databases.
The reason is that DTPO copies the index contents from the computer A to computer B. This means, when syncing computer A that indexed à 500 GB harddisk in a some GB big database, DTPO imports all the 500 GB data on computer B.
I hoped developers will make this behavior, that is nonsense in my eyes, an option and not a forced feature.
This behavior prevented me from indexing a Dropbox-Folder on Computer A , and sync it with a database on Computer B, who has the same Dropbox-Folder (that is perfectly and without any errors synced via Dropbox).
As we had been waiting for years for a reliable and comfortable Realtime-Sync in DTPO, this could have been a solution and a perfect workaround , if DTPO synced and not copied indexed databases.
I haven’t reached the point of considering syching yet. Still trying to find a way to make DEVONthink work locally for me.
Seems indexing does not let me manage files from within DT. If I index a folder from the desktop, I can rename files in this folder from within DT and it synchs with the desktop. But, if I use DT to delete a file or move it to a subfolder, the change does not occur on desktop.
Indexing isn’t for everyone (things get really complicated quickly), and it certainly isn’t good as a Finder replacement, so you may be better off importing, opening the files from DT, modifying them, and then saving them (they should save just fine without any additional importing). If you need to get stuff into DT, I’ve found indexing a single folder to be nice, because from there you can move things into your regular database, but there are lots of other scripts and so forth that can help as well.
Have an indexed folder for the database. This makes it easy to save files directly from an external folder into DT. Periodically these files can me be moved directly into the database by the tools within DT,
Create a template for commonly used file types. This makes it easy to create a new file of the type required directly into DT. When this new file is opened, say in photoshop, it will all be saved back directly into the database (because thats where it was opened from).
“importing, opening the files from DT, modifying them, and then saving them”
==> what if I want to save the file as version 2, etc?
==> what if I want to create a new folder and save it there instead?
“If you need to get stuff into DT, I’ve found indexing a single folder to be nice, because from there you can move things into your regular database”
==> that means double handling. I’m trying to simplify and speed things up
“there are lots of other scripts and so forth that can help as well”
==> why do I need a script to get around software limitations.
Ideally DT would serve up whatever files are stored on my computer - plus allow me to create files, add metadata and manage files from within DT.
Till then, I’m going to use Finder for everything. Sad face.
Hi. I think if you are looking for another Finder, the original Finder will probably serve your needs better. DT does a lot of cool things, but they tend to revolve around storage and management of already existing stuff (with exceptions, especially if you are indexing). I wouldn’t say that the scripts address software limitations (what software doesn’t have limitations?), but rather that they allow for a lot of customization.
At a high level of abstraction, I think all software has limits, because every design decision involves choosing one thing over others. Perhaps the OS is the software with the fewest limits, but even there, you cannot avoid them. More specifically, allowing things to move around willy nilly in an indexed folder means that other programs cannot safely interact with those folders anymore, because it throws off their indexes – there is a method to the madness, even if it is (as you mentioned) something that beginners should be quite careful using. I think the developers are working on some tweaks to indexing and other aspects of the app, and it is improving over time, so perhaps the next iteration will take on board some of your comments / suggestions.
Personally, I’ve found that I get more satisfaction out of software by thinking of it as a tool and trying to use the one in my toolbox that is best suited to the task at hand. It does, indeed, make things a little more complex (kind of like golfing with several clubs instead of just one), but it is a lot more enjoyable and effective this way. DT is a personal information manager that can work as a place to manage everything (including new stuff), and can easily handle moving files in and out. Of course, everyone has their own situation, and you have to balance what you are willing to adjust in your workflow with what DT has to offer.
It’s a good idea to buy software for what it does, not what you imagine it does. Too often the reason folks write in here about their disappointment is that they never trailed the software first, before buying it. If one imagines that DEVONthink is going to move things around the file system, without doing a trial test to see if that’s true, then that will be disappointing.
As I mentioned to begin with, the benefits and limitations of indexing are well covered in this forum (including the excellent, sticky topic that Greg wrote for this section of the forum). So, actually, for those who are careful readers, there are no surprises.
I think really that there are some points that are really horribly illogic in DTPO, and people can be disappointed even when they played around with the trial versions.
When i began working with DTPO, i was sure that syncing is great.
You know as well as me that the syncing was very bad a long time, and programmers have finally released some beta.
And for me is the same problem: i already spent hours and hours of trials on one machine before i understood that syncing a second machine will not work for indexed folders. And i keep thinking that it is complete nonsense that syncing (Computer A: DTPO-Dtabase: 10 GB, Indexed Folders 400 GB ) with a computer B results in: (Computer B: DTPO-Dtabase: 410 GB, Indexed Folders 0 GB . That’s not syncing!
Anyway, due to this i had to change all my initial plans [Data in Dropboxfolders synced via Dropbox on A and B, two “little” identical databases (indexing the Dropbox-Datafolder) on A and B], after days and days of work, for an "all data in DTP"solution, that made me by the way loose some thousands of files for a reason that i still don’t know (something that never happened with Dropbox)
But we looovee DTPO for other reasons (AI classify), so we keep working , shaking the heads 1-2 times per day…
I don’t think these two statements are accurate, though I suppose it depends on what you mean by management. I have hundreds of files indexed in DTPO. These are PDFs whose content I do not intend to manipulate in any major fashion, though any title changes or page deletions/insertions that I make in DTPO are reflected in the original in Finder.
As for imported files, it’s a very simple process to move them back out of DTPO. There is an export option built in, found either with File->Export, or using the Export button that can be placed in the tool bar.
You mention wanting to create a file in an application and save it to the folder you want. Indexing that file in DTPO will ensure it stays in the location you designate for it. Command-Shift-O will open it in its parent application, and as far as I can see any changes you make to the file will be saved as per usual.
You also mentioned a desire to move indexed folders around within DTPO - I can move any indexed file, either within a database or to another database, and it will not get out of synch on the hard drive. What I cannot do is move the file on the hard drive without breaking the link in DTPO. That is certainly a limitation, and a feature that I would like to see improved. But I don’t know how hard that would be to implement
It happens a big mess. This is a big limitation. If you reveal something from DTPO in the finder and you change it, DTPO looses the connection to it. It won’t find it anymore. And if you copy it, DTPO doesn’t know that there is a 2nd instance. You have to report it manually.
We had a lot of mess like this. You have always to remember “don’t touch anything that is in the Database from outside”
It is not comparable to Dropbox for exemple, where the Dropbox Daemon “sees” all the time what you do, and if you rename a file, Dropbox knows that it is still the same file, although it has been moved/renamed.
By the way, it is interesting that DTPO cannot watch his own folders in order to detect any changements…
DEVONthink is not a Finder replacement.
DEVONthink is not a filesystem.
DEVONthink is an information management database.
What you are describing aren’t software “limitations”. They are boundaries put in place to ensure database integrity and consistency.
Versioning is done by duplicating and renaming the file in the database, pre-edit.
Some changes to indexing are on the way in future releases, but it is still not a Finder replacement (and never advertises itself as such).
Nothing, until you empty the database’s Trash, at which point you are asked what to do.
Move a file to a “different folder” where? Another group in DEVONthink or a Finder folder? (Note: these are easily testable things.)