If your friend is using OS X 10.4.2 and either DT 1.9.5 or DT Pro 1.0.1, it really makes no difference how the files were imported into his database.
Select a document, go to the Actions scrolling button, choose “Open With” and choose the desired application for doing the edit. This is a new feature.
If the file being edited was Indexed or externally linked, the original linked file will be modified after a Save. If the file being edited was imported into the database body or the database’s Files folder, a new file will be created in the Finder after a Save. In either case, either reimport it with the same name and delete the original copy from the database, or (what I often do) reimport it with a version number appended to the document name.
Another new feature: Selected document(s) or group(s) in your database can be dragged to the Finder, and copies of them will be created in the Finder. Variation: Suppose you want to open an RTFD document in TextEdit. Just select the document name in your database and drag it onto the TextEdit icon in the Dock.
About phrase searches in Index-imported documents: Although I can’t do a phase search for, e.g. “Aldous Huxley” in such documents, I can do an All Words search.
Just for grins, I did a search for “Aldous Huxley” both in DT Pro and in Spotlight.
DT Pro completed the search in 0.005 seconds. It took Spotlight more than 16 seconds, and several totally irrelevant image files were listed by Spotlight. Moral: If you want to find relevant stuff REALLY fast, search in DT or DT Pro. Of course, Spotlight can create a ‘smart folder’ for the Aldous Huxley search. Likewise, DT Pro can create a ‘smart group’ that does the same thing.
Still another new feature in DT Pro: Suppose one of the search hits contains a neat idea or some technical terms, and I wish to see if I’ve got related information in my database. Just select text (a snippet, a sentence, a paragraph), Control-click to reveal the contextual menu options, and select “See Selected Text.” A list of possibly related documents will be displayed in a drawer. When I’m really “working” my reference materials, this feature and the whole-document See Also feature are incredibly valuable tools.
I spend most of my working days within DT Pro (before that, DT Personal). It’s nice, though, that I can initiate a Spotlight search of selected text via a contextual menu option in DT/DT Pro. Once in a while I actually do that, usually to see if there’s something around that I might want to add to my database for faster searching and for contextual analysis. With a database larger than the Encyclopedia Britannica, containing thousands of reference documents, I depend on the fast searches and analytical tools in DT Pro.
About group-folder synchronization: It’s one-way. Content added to the folder will be imported into the corresponding group in DT Pro. As long as the files stay in the folder, and new files are added, the group and folder are synchronized. If files are moved out of the folder and placed into another synchronized folder, those files will be imported again, resulting in duplicates in the database. Don’t do that.
I find it much easier to manage organizational structure in DT/DT Pro than in the Finder, so that my groups organization tends to be much ‘finer grained’ than my Finder folder organization. I often ask DT/DT Pro to help me place new content. The Finder doesn’t give me similar help. Tip: If you really want to duplicate organizational structure in the database and the Finder, create a good working organization in the database, then drag it to the Finder; all the folders and files will mirror the database content. (That’s what the version 2 database will do, for practical purposes.)