Deep Linking

I am looking for a information organisation app to organize my excerpts, texts and snippets. Therefore I need a feature that seems to be unrealized yet in ALL available information management software – at least for mac os x:

deep linking

thereby I mean, that it would be possible not just to set a link in a document to trigger another document but to link – ideally bidirectionally – to a specific part (or even word) in another document.

Therefore my question: Do you plan to implement such a feature in the next versions of DevonNote?

Disclaimer: I am a user and know nothing.

I doubt it, or at least haven’t seen it mentioned. It would be difficult or impossible to implement, in my uneducated opinion, especially when you consider the different formats the linked article could be in – RTF, PDF, TXT, HTML, and so on.

I try to keep all of my snippets between 50-500 words. This isn’t always possible, but it makes many things easier. One is better granularity of reference for the wikilinks.

Well, I would be absolutely happy if it was possible with .rtf files only!

And it just does not make sense to break apart a book excerpt into smaller pieces – it has to be a combination of linear text and hypertext-links.

We just had this discussion in the topic (currently) below…

… as it would seem, DevonThink does not have exactly the deep linking you want, but it has something similar…

Although you cannot link, you can do a phrase search, that will take a specific short phrase that selected in one document, and find it in all other documents. Either, you can use unique three to five word phrases already in the documents, or you can create your own anchor words or phrases.

What do you think about it?

well, that´s just not the same easiness of just clicking on a word or a phrase and ending up at some other phrases in different documents – so that you can go into depth, ie. searching for a phrase is not the same as building up a personal information network…

Yes, there was a discussion about the subject before and if you’re interested in the complexity behind a proper implementation, I would advise you to check out Project Xanadu. Two-way linking amongst different file formats is a very non-trivial affair.

I think the solution we have using See Also is a flexible work-around for the interaction with material stored in your database that is growing over time. This allows for the discovery of relationships with newly added material that you may not have been aware of when you envisioned the original two-way link.

ok, thanks, I know the xanadu project…

but what about implementing a two-way linking not amongst different file formats but justfor one text-based format (like .rtf)?

i just had a look at the link you posted concerning your work-around solution.

is there a possibility to define own key words for a text or is this only generated automatically?

I won’t comment on the developers’ plans.

But I achieve the objective of deep linking – opening a desired document at a specific location – with the tools already available in DEVONthink.

And I’ve been “linking” not only to a specific document location in another rich text document, but to specific locations in PDF and HTML/WebArchive documents.

The “link” in my rich text note is a “cue” text string, usually 3 to 5 words, copied from the desired location in the target document. It’s pretty easy to choose a text string that has a high probability of being unique to that location, even in a PDF with hundreds of pages.

Now in my rich text note I can select that cue string and press Command-/, the Lookup command. DEVONthink’s Search window will open with the cue string already entered. I’ll set the search to Exact Phrase and hit Return. I click on the desired document in the result list, and the document opens and scrolls to the first occurrence of the cue string. Almost always, that will be the location I want to “jump” to; if not, click in the text pane and press Command-G to scroll to the next occurrence.

This is the technique I use to associate my notes and drafts to references in my database.

Even if “deep links” between rich text documents appears in a future version of DEVONthink, I’ll continue to use this technique, because it has some advantages:

  1. It lets me jump to a desired document and location in PDF, HTML and WebArchive references as well as text references.

  2. Because each Lookup Search window is newly created and previous Lookup windows are persistent until closed, I can have multiple “windows” open in the same document, each referring to the location of a different cue string.

  3. I don’t lose my place in my note or draft document from which I originated the Lookup, and I don’t need to create a link back to the referring note. I use Exposé to move among my open document and view windows.

Comment: This method of associating my rich text notes and drafts to material in my database works so well for me that I prefer it to Skim, for example, to make notes about PDF documents. Skim’s notes are plain text, so I can’t include images or hyperlinks. Skim’s notes are not indexed and are not searchable in my database, but my rich text notes are searchable. As I often extend my note documents into draft sections of a writing project, my rich text notes associated with a PDF fit that workflow much better than Skim’s plain text notes.

I’m not arguing against improvements to DEVONthink. But the existing tools are rich and flexible enough to quickly and easily do things such as associating notes to specific locations in other documents, that might at first glance look impossible.

I always like to point out workarounds and kludges, especially ones that are really quite effective and efficient. :slight_smile:

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It’s not too bad now, although it takes serveral steps to arrive at the destination through phrase search. In version two, if I understand it correctly, phrase search will be closer to the convenience of just clicking. (But if I got that wrong, then I will be disappointed.)

It is a different way to go about building your own information network.

By way of disclaimer for any ignorance demonstrated below, I am just learning to use DEVONThink. I’ve been exploring many of the excellent threads on this website, and am excited about the possibilities for the software in my own work.

I have several questions about the single biggest issue for my particular work needs—what appears to be called “Deep Linking” in DTP-speak. Bill_DeVille provided extensive commentary and suggestions to previous posts on deep linking. However, I am hoping he or other contributors could provide additional comment on a couple of points.

I use PDFs extensively, and do need the ability to “deep link” to specific pages or paragraphs. I currently use Adobe Acrobat Pro to highlight and add comments or stickies to the PDFs as part of my own note-taking.

Many of the PDFs I work with are legible for me to read, but multiple OCR programs have failed to produce searchable text. In Adobe, this problem does not prevent me from adding notes and stickies. However, this does necessitate the searchability of notes, tags, or some other annotation, since the text is not.

In my ideal system, I’d be able to search these tags/notes, and thus be able to search and source all information tagged as pertinent to, say, “Chapter 3” or “Early Childhood,” etc. However, this does not seem possible. The deep linking system using RTF seems to come as close to a searchable annotation or sub-document tagging system as is currently possible.

  1. Is there a DTP-searchable alternative to Adobe’s comments and stickies function?

  2. I’m not sure I really understand the suggestions made regarding RTF options. Specifically, how and where the list or other “original” reference (like “Chapter 3”) would be located (and to which the “deep linking” would occur). Would the RTF and other functions that have been suggested require that I maintain an outline, including a line for “Chapter 3” that is then linked to paragraphs and entire documents germane to its topic? For entire documents, this would be redundant with DTPs other categorizing and search functions.

  3. Does this work for PDFs that are not OCR-friendly (for reasons noted above)?

Maybe the notes being made with Skim could be linkable. Anyone?

Skim notes in PDFs cannot be found in the DTPO search box. If you export the document from Skim as a PDFD (PDF bundle) they can. But in neither case can the DTPO Find (CMD-F) action find the note.

For something that works where Skim doesn’t, I use PDFClerk to add notes and links that are searchable in DTPO. Other non-Abode apps are available too.