Best workflow for watching folders

I want to say that DevonThink Pro Office has really changed the way I work for the better. I’ve been using it extensively now since the Version 2 Beta came out… about 9 months I think… and I don’t think I could ever go back. Together with OmniFocus, these two products have incredible capability for work/life management.

My usage until now has been primarily about going paperless. Everything goes to my ScanSnap… to searchable PDF… to DT. Then I use the DT magic hat to file. Its incredible at that. So I have a big repository of what used to be in my file cabinet in DTPO, and I have my file system folder structure which kind of mirrors the same folders but with my electronic content. I’ve come to the conclusion, that this is not efficient, and I want to elevate DTPO to be my information repository for everything. I’m not sure the best and safest way to do this.

I’ve already started dropping web pages into DTPO, and I’ve also started doing all my note taking directly in it. When I have actions to deal with, they go in OmniFocus and I drop a link to the appropriate DTPO items into the OF action so that I can work together in them.

So what’s the best way to move my file system files (MS Office files, other PDFs, etc.) into DTPO and keep it organized. I just did a test and I dragged a folder into DTPO and I’m not sure if it replicated all the files, or just created pointers to them. I think it replicated them.

Ideally, I think what I want is to be able to have a DTPO group “watch” a file system folder… so that when anything in the file system folder gets added, deleted, or updated, that the respective group in DTPO will know it. Is there a way to do this? Is this a good practice? Do I care? I think that I want these files to actually exist in a file system folder structure that mimics my DTPO structure, so that when I’m in MS Word and want to open something, I can find it. I believe the DTPO database is kind of unstructured, so it would be hard to find that way from MS Word’s file dialog (or some other application). I just want to be able to find everything from within DTPO.

As long as you didn’t press any modifier keys, the files/folders were imported. Pressing the Command-Option modifier keys indexes the files/folders. You could also use File > Import > Files & Folders… (identical to drag & drop) or File > Index… (identical to Command-Option drag & drop).

Just index the folder and synchronize it every then and now via File > Synchronize. Note that indexed files are now also editable since the last public beta.

Thanks so much for the quick reply. That is exactly what I wanted to do. I need to still think through the best way to organize this and avoid duplication, but this is a great help.

My goal is to get totally paperless and have all my reference material indexed in DTPO, so that I can manage all my work actions in OmniFocus and use logical links in OF to link back to my project folders and documents. One problem I had been seeing with OmniFocus was that I was dropping document directly into OF and taking notes there, and then after an activity ended I lost the ability to easily refer back to that information.

It would be great if you guys were able to create more OF hooks down the road. My workflow for many things starts with the scanner… I put paper into it and then I have to wait until it completes OCR before I can then grab it in the Inbasket and create a link for it and add that to an OF action. It would be nice if I could go to my DTPO inbasket and have a way to from that create an OF action that had the DTPO link in the body and the title of the action match the item name.

Or use the Info panel and attach to the group the Synchronize script in the /Extras/Scripts/Examples folder that comes with DTPO betas. When you click on that group, it’s updated with the latest sync. Works like a charm.

Is there any conceivable way to associate a DTPO “group” to an Omnifocus project or action? I am still working through my organization strategy, and I’d really like to be able to navigate back and forth at the top level of my areas of focus and projects/programs by having the group tied to where my actions are tracked. I don’t see a way to copy a link for a group. If I can’t do that, is there a way to get from a linked item back to the group(s) that it is in within DTPO? If that were possible, I could link to an RTF item at the top of the group, and then navigate from their to the group. Are any of these possible?

A DTPO Group to OF Project link would be very nice.

In 3-pane view (for example) select the group name in the middle pane. Select Edit > Copy Item Link. Paste (CMD-V) wherever you chose. Voilà.

I seem to have run into a bug with this which is why I didn’t know you could do it. I closed OmniFocus and DTPO, and then restarted and it worked… once. However, subsequent attempts to place links to other groups seem to place the correct text description of the link, but keep pointing back to the first group that I placed. And if I had already placed a link to an item, then I was never able to get it to place the group. This looks like a bug of some sort.

Problem went away after a reboot… this seems to be working well for what I want to do

There is still a little usability issue I’m trying to figure out. I have nested folders in OF and I’m trying to match them with my nested groups in DTPO. Seems like a linked folder doesn’t traverse into the subfolders. Is there a setting to tell it to go into the subfolders? Also, I didn’t think about it before, but if I have a folder called Websites in DTPO, and I have a real folder called Websites in my file system, when I link it… I have the linked Websites within DTPO Websites. I wish there was a way to get the items have it watch the file system folder and link the items into the DTPO folder with the same name, but it seems like you’d have to do that item by item. Not sure if I explained it correctly.

Rather than this

DTPO Group

DTPO Item 1
DTPO Item 2
Linked Filesystem Folder (indexed)

File System Item 1 (indexed)
File System Item 2 (indexed)

I’d like to tie the file system folder to the DTPO Folder so you get this…

DTPO Group

DTPO Item 1
DTPO Item 2
File System Item 1 (indexed)
File System Item 2 (indexed)
File System Subfolder 1 (indexed) (doesn’t look like these show at all now)

and have the folders be able to sync… but I guess having the file system folder hidden would make that hard to do. It would probably mean that DTPO would have to be changed to allow you to associate a file system folder to each DTPO group (optionally), and then DTPO would automatically sync and show links to the stuff in the file system folder.

Not sure I follow all that…but, an item link is a link to that item, not the parents, children, brothers, uncles, nieces, or neighbors of the item. :confused:

That’s what indexing does. Index a folder, and you get all the descendents and contents.

I’m just saying that I’d like to be able to have a folder index directly to the group, rather than indexing into a folder within the group. Guess I’m not explaining it well.

I’m pretty sure my attempt to index the folder is not bringing in the children. I’ll double check that I did do an index and not a link.

Sometimes indexing fails (crashes, version changes, or just plain cussedness on the part of DT). If I suspect something is out of whack, I delete the index and re-index. I’m sure that subfolders are included (I do this in all my clients’ databases) but aliased folders within the target folders and subfolders in Finder are not. (Feature to resolve aliases has been requested here before.)

(Caveat - this one has bitten me: it’s easy to put a document into an index group inside DT - that document is not in the target folder in Finder. Delete the index group, deletes that document without warning.)

Not that it helps retain the document, but do you get a warning dialog when deleting the index group it’s in?

Thanks for mentioning this. I’ll add it to my list of reasons to be uncomfortable with indexing.

DT doesn’t warn when deleting anything, index or not.

Oh, I must have been mistakenly thinking about the Empty Trash warning dialog. Nevermind. :slight_smile: