Building databases in Think using Agent results

I’m posting this in both the Agent and Think forums since it involves both…

I am interested in creating several groups of theological databases (I’m a Catholic theologian) for use within Think using Agent to find and download files and am at a bit of a loss as to how to go about it.

The initial data bases I want to create are:

  • Papal documents (statements, proclimations, encyclicals, etc…)

  • US Bishops’ statements, positions, documents, etc…

  • Church Council documents by council (Vatican II, Trent, etc…)

Two sites in particular likely have all the documents I want:

Note: I’m a birthday-suit-newbie and just starting to figure out how to use DEVON Think and Agent.



Patrick, I plan to contact you directly. I’m interested in your plans.

Can I get you to reply in public?

I myself am working on filling databases with patristics information (i’m also a theologian) from similar websites as well as etc.

Dear Praxis,

Well, because of my own limitation (I have perminant brain damage), I haven’t gotten very far very successfully yet as I haven’t been able to focus on the details of forming the right querry in the right way, but from my notes, here’s what Bill showed me:

-Open both Agent and Think (I’ve Pro).
-In Agent’s menu, go to “tools > edit search sets”.
-Click the “+” button to creat a new querry, set “results per Plugin” to 50 (so your computer doesn’t bog down – I’ve bumped mine to 100 and do fine, but I’ve 1.5 gig of RAM), and play around with the rest of the settings. Add specific sites to search (and limit search to only them) in “sites” tab
-Actions tab, select “Archive results” and “Add to DEVONthink” (Think must be open for this to work)

My experience so far has been mixed. I querried [encyclical OR “papal bull” OR “given in rome”] at two specific sites, I set the “follow links” levels to the far left and got poor results. Setting it to the far right gave much more thourough results, but I’m still missing some encyclicals and there are a lot of extranious and unwanted entries. I need to tweek something but am not sure what or how to go about it. If you learn anything helpful there, please let me know!


I haven’t looked at the site Highlander searched, but it’s probably a good idea to examine the terminology used on it to improve one’s search strategy.

DEVONagent has some very powerful Boolean search operators.

Try (papal NEAR/2 bull) or (papal NEAR/2 encyclical)

I made a copy of the Internet (Fast Scan) set and modified it to follow links a couple of levels, then entered the above query.

I got 3504 search results, in general with a high degree of relevance.

One of the high-ranking sites is, which provides links to papal encyclicals online in English (number 263-292) and to a library collection of English versions of the encyclicals starting with number 1 issued in 1740 and up to encyclical number 280.

I didn’t look specifically at a Vatican Web site. But I would be reasonably certain that, if all the papal encyclicals have been translated into English and are available somewhere online, this set of search results could lead me to them.

Those NEAR operators are very powerful. One can specify how near the terms must be to each other, in this case, 2. DEVONagent also allows one to use the BEFORE and AFTER operators.

Excellent, Bill. Thanks.

Praxis, any idea of languague common to most encyclicals in English translation? JPII generally signed his the same, but other Popes were different.