Can DevonThink work for me?

I’m starting some research for a pretty big project, and I’m wondering if DevonThinks is the right tool. With the goal of writing about a historical figure, I need to record notes for a number of things:

  1. Events in the person’s life. They need to be sorted by year, so I can easily find events chronologically.
  2. Secondary people related to this person. The same, I’ll need to store information about people this person came in touch with during his life. They will need to be marked by year, but the chronology is a bit less important.
  3. Notes from letters and journals of the main person. This person left behind a huge corpus of material, and I’ll want to take notes, recording not only dates, but volumes and pages of his letters or journals for each note. I won’t need any strict bibliography (this research is for a novel), but I will need anchors so I can go back and find something when I want.
  4. Other people, events, texts, etc. relative to this person. My subject was involved with many other well-known people, some of whom left behind large numbers of letters and journals. I’ll need to record this information as well.

Now, I could do all this in a flat text file, but organizing would be difficult. I’m trying to figure out the best way to store all this information yet have it easily accessible. My first thought was to use a snippet-collector, such as Yojimbo, which can use tags, allowing me to sort by name, year, etc. But I use Yojimbo to store a lot of stuff already, and it doesn’t allow for separate databases.

I’ve tried out Bento, which has some nice features, and an iPad app, and sharing (I’ll want to be able to use the program I choose sometimes on my desktop Mac and sometimes on my laptop) but I’m not sure it’s ideal. Specifically, I will want to be adding non-note items to my database: the occasional web page, PDF or image, and Bento can’t do this.

One last note: I’ll want to sort the information by name, date, location, etc., at different times. And I like the ability to create the fields I want in Bento; I’m not sure I can do anything like this in DevonThink. (And putting info in fields is a real help in what I want; it will allow me to sort my information effectively. From what I see in DevonThink, the only choices are text files.)

I have to admit, I’m pretty flummoxed by DevonThink, and always have been. I’ve never been able to wrap my head around it, even though I’ve tried the demo several times, over the years. I’m more or less sure it can do what I want, but I’m very hesitant about committing to using it, because of what is a very steep learning curve.

So, any comments or thoughts would be appreciated.

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