Changes in my usage scenario for DevonThink Pro + OpenMeta

Here are some thoughts. I’d love any suggestions that people have.

I first bought DevonThink Pro Office in order to move my home life to a paperless system. I set up a database for all my bills, receipts, paper mail, etc. and started scanning away (ScanSnap + DevonThink’s built-in OCR).

As I read more about DevonThink, I realized that it can help me with the “big project” in my life—writing a book. I have about 4,500 pdfs, plus notes on the pdfs (as .rtf), plus notes on various subjects and drafts (mostly as .rtf and .rtfd). I keep all these materials in one of two folder trees. The pdfs plus notes are managed by Sente, which auto-files them by author and title. The notes are maintained by hand. I then created a DevonThink project that indexes just those two folders, so I can search, See Also, tag, etc.

So, to be clear, I had two DevonThink databases, one with documents inside it (for home scanning), and one that linked to two folders (for the book).

I just dragged everything out of my home database, and put everything back into the Finder. I am going to consider developing a DevonThink database that links to my home work (ie. Indexes not Imports in DevonThink terminology), but I haven’t done that yet. But for now my watch-word is “never put a file inside a DevonThink database if you can help it.” Strong language, I know, but here is my reasoning.

  1. When a file is in the DT database it isn’t accessible through the Finder (yes, you can find it through Spotlight, I know). This means you need to know where it is before you look for it.

  2. When a file is outside the DT database, it participates in OpenMeta taggging. I just discovered OpenMeta tagging, and I think it has lots of possibilities. Among others, I can tag in DevonThink, and then find in Tags. Or tag in Tags and find in DevonThink. Or find in Spotlight, review in Tags, then do a See Also in DevonThink. Files inside DevonThink databases don’t participate in OpenMeta tagging, as far as I can tell.

  3. If I don’t put my entire life into a DevonThink database, I don’t know where to put certain files. An example is the following. I was putting all my financial materials (bank statements, bills, etc.) in my Personal DevonThink database. I also decided to put financial materials I do on behalf of others in that database. But I put all my communications for non-profit boards outside (since they have been saved in separate folder structure for years). But now, where do I put letters regarding financial transactions? In the database? Outside? Both? I can set up very exacting rules to decide, but honestly it isn’t worth the mental effort.

  4. The one thing I miss by using the Finder (the directory structure) for everything is the ability to put one thing in two folders, the way you can in DevonThink. But, with luck, tagging will bail me out most times, or searching, or at last resort, making two copies. (Don’t get me going on the problems with aliases on the Mac!)

I’d love to hear any comments on this. In particular, I have two questions.

  1. Is there a good workflow to use DevonThink + a ScanSnap to scan, OCR, and then save as a file (not in a database?) I am falling back on OCR’ing using Acrobat, since it seems easier and I already own it. But I like the look and feel of DT much more than Acrobat.

  2. Have any DT users made the leap to OpenMeta tagging, and how that is working out? What other tools work well with DT, or is DT all you need?



And, sorry, but a third question

  1. Are there any workflows that have been developed that allow one to use DevonThink’s amazing abilities to create notes that link to other documents, which also create documents that are saved outside of a DT database?