Collecting pdf's and websites: Double newbie question

I’m enthralled (yes, that excited) about DevonThink, but right now I’m going through a double newbie struggle with the processes of bringing in material I’ve collected and collect daily, mainly pdf’s and webpages.

I’m calling myself a double newbie because I’m new to DTPro and also to the Mac OS X. Before I got the software my research suggested I can use services to automate much of my data collection (pdf’s and websites), but that isn’t working in Firefox. I’ve figured out that lies on the fact that Mozilla doesn’t use Cocoa, but not exactly what that means, nor, pragmatically if there’s a work-around.

A work-around is what I’ve been trying to get to work, but unsuccesfully. Here’s the problems I have:

  1. If I drag the URL from Firefox to DTPro, it shows up in my To classify folder, but when I open the URL in DTPro there is no classify button. I get the classify button if I open a pdf from a folder on the harddisk that I’ve indexed.
  2. I tried dragging the URL to Safari and thought since this is a Cocoa application I could use the DevonThink Services, but no go. They’re in the Services menu alright, but grayed out.

If anybody has any tips I’ll be mighty grateful.

So much for the pragmatic side. I do have to say that I get to feeling a bit overwhelmed because things that I wish would be simple turn out to be so complicated. Reading through the posting I sense that’s relatively common and part of the learning curve. I keep wishing there was some way to add some structure to my indexing of resources, but it’s not apparent. Turning more back to a pragmatic side again, I wish there were some scripts to guide newbies like me through the process of importing collections (texts, pictures, documents, websites, etc) and advise for setting up basic groups, and advice on using the powerful search and ‘see-also’ functions.

Thanks in advance,

Okay, ill jump right in and try to help.

Since you’re new to mac, ill ask this question: Is there a particular reason you are using firefox INSTEAD of safari? If none exists, you may find safari to be better suited to your uses, even if only for the services menu, but also, Safari is scriptable, firefox is not, at least not in the same way. This is going to be important later on in your DT use, as it inevitably is for most DT/DTPro/DA users.

So, using safari, you have a page displayed that you want to save. You have to choose how you want to save this information. I would recommend the following:

Hi-lite pertinent information (text) then click the services. You’ll find the “greyed-out” options are now available. This will take the text you deemed important, and thus highlighted, and sent it to DT as either a richtext or plaintext note.

Now, if you are wanting a whole page, and have it continually updated, drag the url from the address bar in safari to the dock icon in DT. The page, when selected in DT will display and be refreshed.

If you dont want a continually updated page, but merely a static “snapshot” of the page, you can save it as a webarchive. To do this, simply drag url, again, to the dock icon of DT, open the page in DT by clicking on the item in ur dt database (should appear wherever you designated new items to go in your preferences panel of DT) and right click (or control click if you’re using a one button “mac mouse.” Now you should see some options available. The one you’re interested in is: Capture Web Archive. This will save a snapshot (ie non-updating, non-live) of the page. Fully searchable, easily sortable.

Of course, since BOTH DT and Safari are fully scriptable, many scripts HAVE been written, and WILL be written (applescript is just good, clean fun, am i wrong?) that can remove a couple of steps in this process. But that’s not really what you’re asking, so ill leave that for you to find elsewhere.

Hopefully this helped you, as I am just now getting to the place with DT/Applescript/Mac to be able to offer help to people. Consider it my first “helping others” post.

I’m sure some others can chime in with better/more efficient ways to do this. But I give you my personal guarantee that this method, although tedious, will work regardless.

Thanks for the insightful help. I’ve tried it out and it works.

You convinced me to switch to Safari. I didn’t earlier because I’ve gotten used to Firefox after years working with it on PCs and find that Safari gets ‘stuck’ when loading pages–it’s just not as fast in drawing web pages as firefox in my experience.

That said, I really, really need to get a grip on the megabytes of information I have on this computer, so the scripting function seems very, very important now that I understand that it isn’t and likely won’t be coming in Firefox.

Again thanks for the insights, the usage scenarios are helpful in giving an idea what DTPro can be used for, but short on the nuts-and-bolts material it takes to get things to work.

Hi New poster here:

I believe any browser based on Apple’s WebKit will work properly.
This site lists 100 Mac browsers, 10 of which are based on the Webkit.
My favorite Browser is Shiira (get 1.2.2 Version 2 needs to ‘ripen’ a bit more),
but OmniWeb also exports to DT.

Two other popular browsers, Opera and Camino 1.0.2 don’t work for me (not based on the webkit).

Harvey, another tip to consider :

You may want to take a look at DevonAgent as well. In addition to all the tools im sure you already know about, it is so very tightly integrated with DT and DTPro, I personally cannot imagine using either without the other. IMHO, YMMV.

Harvey, <insert disclaimer - I am on the payroll> there are very convenient contextual menu options in the DT Pro/DT browser and in the DEVONagent browser. You can select rich text of selected text/images, or capture of the page HTML or WebArchive.

And yes, I find DEVONagent indispensable for adding information to my DT Pro databases, often in batches of hundreds or thousands of Web pages.

Take a look at this recent forum post:

I was inspired by a Dave Barry column about vacationing in Iowa (see < … 164248.htm >) to do a DEVONagent search for “manure NEAR gun” (don’t enter the quotation marks if you try the search). Although I didn’t directly send the resulting Web pages to my DT Pro database, I did save a digest summarizing the information in the search pages to my main database, which focusses on environmental science and technology. That’s another neat feature of DEVONagent.

Being a dedicated Firefox and Thunderbird user, I’ll throw in my two cents here.

I tried to switch to Safari (did not try Omniweb though); that lasted for a couple of days. The reason is simple: Firefox plugins/extensions. Aside from the useful developer stuff (e.g. the Web Developer toolbar) and SessionSaver, I consider many plugins to be indispensible from a security angle, such as the IDND plugin, sanity checks like ShowIP and SpoofStick, and the fine-grained control over Javascript and Java provided by NoScript.

Currently DevonAgent is my default web browser due to its speed and integration with DT. For all of my serious web browsing – especially where I encounter a lot of untrusted, if not downright hostile sites – I use Firefox.

The same situation occurs with Thunderbird and Mail. OS X’s Mail client has exactly the same feature set that I use in Thunderbird, down to the PGP (well, GPG) integration; I successfully switched to Mail for a couple of months. In the end I had to switch back, once again for security reasons: Mail renders (displays) an email message when you mark it as junk (or, better put, there is no way to mark a single message as junk without selecting it).

Not having my main email and web client integrate with DT is quite crippling. Sure, there are scripting solutions, and the drag/drop into DT works well enough, but it’s still not the same.

It might be worth investigating the Mozilla plugin or extension architecture. If a plugin (it would have to be a shared library, not an XUL script) could link to the Cocoa libraries, register Firefox/Thunderbird as a Cocoa applicaion, and provide some rudimentary Applescript hooks, that would be perfect.

This used to be the case but now when I “right click” on a Junk mail message and use the contextual message to mark it as junk, it doesn’t open it.
Also, if you do not select “Display remote images in HTML messages” it will not report back to the sender in any way.

I looked into the Firefox issue and there are Cocoa builds underway, supposedly for version 3.0. I tried some alphas and none of them has the Services menu enabled, though Camino does. Looking into it a bit, it seems that Cocoa and XUL are considered an “either/or”; you can have support for one or the other, but not both. This has to do with extensions using XUL to add widgets to Firefox, so if XUL widgets aren’t being used (and Cocoa widgets are) then the extensions can’t be loaded. Personally I don’t care if Firefox uses Coca widgets or not, I really just want services.

You are correct, I just tried it and right-clicking does not render the message. A bit tricky to get right (Thunderbird has a Junk toggle in the message list that can be clicked like a button), but much better than the old behavior.

I’m not only worried about reporting back to the sender; if someone discovers an exploit in Mail or Thunderbird’s handling of, say, the TABLE tag, then simply parsing the HTML could compromise one’s machine.

Make mine ASCII! :slight_smile:

A one-step method for creating a web archive document in DT directly from Safari is with the “Add web archive to DEVONthink” script that’s under the Safari Scripts section of the Script Menu. And there are different ways to assign it (and other scripts) a keyboard shortcut; I use FastScript Lite (, an “enhanced” replacement for the standard Script Menu.