Any hope of a true cloud-based future for Devonthink?

First - great idea to switch to Discourse

Second and the point of this post - I have long considered Devonthink Pro to be the heart of my computing existence. But the world is migrating to the cloud and increasingly I am frustrated that I cannot more easily share my data in Devonthink with clients or others in the world. The sync feature is still a bit clunky and in any event does not really allow for true web publishing/sharing of data.

Any chance Devonthink will move to the cloud?

Of note, Panorama X will soon have a cloud (or self-hosted server) version - I fear that will be substantial competition for Devonthink if similar features are not in the RoadMap for Devonthink.


Panorama X isn’t a competitor of ours. Indeed they’re compatriots in the artisanal software industry.

And no, there are no plans to create a cloud service for DEVONthink. This is a heavily saturated space and full of liabilities. Also, local resources are faster, more reliable, and more private than networked ones. Lastly, we advocate a decentralized data model where each device has a copy of the data and syncs to a commonly accessible location.


Who are the competitors? I am unaware of any software close to Devonthink’s capability which is cloud based.

I am referring to the cloud service space in general.

As far as I can tell, there are no cloud competitors to Devonthink currently.

But I strongly believe Panorama X will become one when they release their server version.

Forgive me, I don’t understand the debate here. My DEVONthink setup works perfectly “in the cloud” via iCloud syncing


I’m not sure in what way, since they aren’t a direct competitor of ours. Merely having a cloud space doesn’t add the different functionalities DEVONthink has. Panorama X is great software that does what has a very specific focus, as we do. It is more a competitor to Filemaker and to some degree Excel / Numbers.

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We are talking more about accessing your files in the cloud. This is not what our sync technology is doing. Our sync engine can use compatible cloud services as an intermediary between syncing devices. It does not allow you to access the files in that intermediary place (since they’re not actually stored there as you may imagine).

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When you get into the gigabyte data range Devonthink syncing does not work so well. Even when it does work, essentially you need to access it from specific computers on which you have installed Devonthink. You cannot easily access that data if your computer breaks while you are out of town or using a hotel business center etc.

Moroever saving and retrieving data all by yourself is only a small tip of the iceberg. Equally if not more helpful is the ability to share that data, or portions of it, with the public, with clients, with coworkers etc. That would be much easier to do with a cloud database which can be configured to present views of that data to the public (or to a private group) via a URL.

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You are a competitor to Filemaker too!

Yes your interface is more sophisticated with regard to finding relationships among pieces of knowledge. Your interface is not nearly as customizable as Filemaker; in turn that makes it easier to get started and it adds very powerful knowledge-specific features. But in the end, Devonthink and Filemaker are both databases.

And guess what? FIlemaker has made a big point recently to add cloud features - and to add preconfigured templates for specific tasks. The flipside would be for Devonthink to move to the cloud for those who want a knowledge-specific database.

With all sincerity as a huge fan, I say your longstanding mantra that “local resources are better” was true in 2009 but not in 2019. I am (or used to be) a huge advocate of your software. But increasingly I find myself in environments with access to my other cloud tools but not to my Devonthink back on my home or work computer. Or I want to share with clients information fro Devonthink and ponder why I need to move that data from Devonthink to some sort of web-based application. So my usage of Devonthink is going down and down as I add cloud-based tools to my toolbox.

Why are you letting fans like me slip away rather than bringing Devonthink up to date?

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Actually, this is practically not true. In almost 7 years, I have had less than five inquiries about Filemaker regarding DEVONthink. Filemaker is a relational database. DEVONthink is not, except maybe if you extrapolate ideas to make it seem so. It’s actually interesting to me, since I expected a lot of overlap with their user base, but it’s never really happened. Filemaker is a niche product with a die-hard user base (and rightly so, as it’s great software), just as we have our own niche and contingent.

Time has not worn down basic wisdom and local resources are still, as I said, faster, more reliable, and certainly more private. If your data is only in the cloud, what do you do when your network is down or inaccessible? I am in a metropolitan area and I can find a network-free zone in less than 10 minutes. Networks aren’t perfect, servers are slow or unresponsive, services throttle bandwidth, etc. And while you may argue you personally see no such problems, I have a pile of tickets from many people in many parts of the world who do experience such things.

And what do you do about privacy and liability issues? These are not things to be taken lightly. Running a cloud service adds a level of liability over data privacy and integrity, as well as uptime, etc. that adds to the burden and bottom line of a company. And it must be profitable for the company too. This is not a profitable space, especially given the risks. Why do you think any really viable service today is backed by corporations with the financial resources in other areas or from outside investments coming in? Again, not a trivial thing to consider.

Note, DEVONthink To Go provides access (again, local) to databases and we have many people using it to great effect daily. We have plenty leveraging Mac and mobile in a great synthesis too! Some are using a cloud service / WebDAV server, and many are using Bonjour syncing on their local network.

PS: We have a growing contingent of users who are moving their data out of the cloud and back onto local drives.


My point is not to discourage people from using local computing when that works for them.

But I also think we are beyond the point of dismissing the idea of the cloud as a primary data repository. There are countless data-critical organizations - both private and public - which do that today. Among other solutions, Amazon AWS and its competitors make it possible for even small organizations to store data in multiple cloud-based locations in a way that is more disaster-proof than local data. Nothing can ever be 100% secure whether it is local or in cloud.

Bottom line - I totally “get” your concept for knowledge organization. My personal 5 gigabyte Devonthink database speaks for itself. That said, can I really be the only one of your long-term supporters thinking of jumping ship for a cloud-based solution?

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Whenever I come across wishes expressed in forums, I always find myself thinking of the False Consensus Effect Our ideas are never as widely shared as we think they are.


I have 50G of databases

iCloud syncing is rock solid for me. I have an iPhone,iPad,MacBook and iMac. I can access my DEVONthink databases anywhere, and share content with anyone. It is more secure than almost all other competition because of end to end encryption.

I find actually the iPhone is the most useful because it is always with me

I am not sure I fully understand what your concerns are


could you @apb123 elaborate a bit on how in your cloud-storage-scenario you actually share data with other non-Devonthinkers?

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Maybe I misunderstood how iCloud syncing works when it was introduced in May 2018… if so I will gladly reconsider my thoughts here.

I have tried the various other iterations of Devonthink syncing before. For those I had to re-create my whole database on each computer before I could reliably access it.

Are you saying that now you get an index to your data and can search it and the iCloud sync brings in the information on an as-demanded basis, essentially with iCloud being the central “server” to your data? If that is true then I totally missed that part in the announcement because that would indeed be a “personal cloud” solution that is quite robust.

Is that how it works?

Is there any way to do “web publishing” and share a portion of your database with others via URL?

No it is not. Jim can explain in more detail.

FWIW in the meantime, if you want to share documents with other person(s) it is OK to keep those shareable documents in Dropbox, or OneDrive, or Box, and index them in your DEVONthink database as well as use, for example, Dropbox’s sharing features to share them to others.

Not meant to detract from your ideas, but just to say there are already ways to accomplish sharing.

If I have a document in Dropbox and index it in Devonthnk without storing the document in Devonthink, then I can only search on the title or metadata that I have entered in Devonthnk, correct? In other words, if I want to be able to do a full-text search in Devonthink and also share with others, then I think I would need to maintain and manually sync versions of the document both in Devonthink and in Dropbox. Or am I missing some other way to keep the only copy of a document in Dropbox but still be able to search the full-text in Devonthink?

Indexed files are fully searchable inside DEVONthink – no different than imported files or files created inside databases. Assuming of course that it’s a searchable file type with text content – e.g., not an image. PDFs that are not OCRd (i.e., “PDF + Text”) are of course not searchable either inside or outside of DEVONthink.


Let’s not forget those of us syncing redundantly both locally via bonjour and via iCloud. I can easily sync without Wi-Fi access on long flights or when I travel to locations without internet access and via icloud when I do. :):grin:

Wishing for SFTP sync someday. Easier to setup than WebDAV if you want a private server via something like DigitalOcean.