DEVONthink 2 GUI layout lost in DEVONthink 3?

Hi all,

Because of time constraints (and dark forebodings) I’ve only now upgraded from DEVONthink Pro 2 to DEVONthink 3.

And indeed, I have immediately run into a problem that is huge for my usage pattern. I’ve always used the following GUI layout


and I cannot find a way to reproduce this on DEVONthink 3. Is this really gone? This would make DEVONthink 3 almost unusable for me. :scream:

Three Pane view isn’t in DEVONthink 3.
This is the closest you’ll get…

Thanks. Bad, bad news. :slightly_frowning_face: I’ve always thought upgrades were for adding features, not for removing them. The three pane view was the crucial factor in my decision to buy DEVONthink Pro 2. If some users are confused by it, make it an option (it was one, anyway), hide it for non-power-users, but don’t remove it. < Sigh/>

Any chance it might come back some day in the not too distant future?

Unfortunately, this does not work for me because it exposes the one feature of DEVONthink I’ve always disliked strongly: That, although multiple databases are completely separated documents in different places of the file hierarchy, DEVONthink lists all databases in the sidebar of each database. This is an inconsistent mishmash. What has one database to do with another? I mean, a Pages document doesn’t list all other Pages documents in its sidebar, either. And if the tax man takes a look at my Expenses database, why should he also be made aware of my Porn Movies database? :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: It just makes no sense.

So until there is an option to get completely rid of all other databases in the sidebar, the sidebar is simply not an option for me. :cry:

Can I still use my databases in DEVONthink Pro 2 after they were opened in DEVONthink 3?

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You’re rather late to the game - you might want to read this thread for example. To my knowledge DT have not ever given any indication that 3-pane view might return.

The format is unchanged, so that should not be a problem.

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So just close the other databases when the tax man comes?

No; but Mail lists all accounts in the side bar - a more apt comparison too, I feel.

I’m not trying to say you are wrong - your workflow is obviously suited to what you see in DT2 rather than DT3 - but that you appear to be being picky in your reasoning, which rather invites smart arses like me to simply contradict you. Obviously that doesn’t actually help you, though. The thread I quoted above is something like 460 entries long, and is a mishmash of people complaining and others showing up their own personal solutions. You might find one or the other solution to be suitable yourself after all. There are also numerous other threads on the topic - a search will throw them up for you.

I hope it ends up working for you - DT3 is pretty nifty.

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I know. In the last few years, I’ve been almost drowning in computer problems, so my appetite for new ones was kind of limited. :exploding_head:

Oooops! :open_mouth: I really should have searched before posting this question; sorry! And thanks for pointing this out!

Thanks; at least one ray of hope. :blush:

Well, this was more of an allegorical example; the tax man is more like one of my many mes. :sunglasses: Open documents represent kind of a To Do list to me; so at any given time, I have a lot of open documents that I do not want to close although I am not working on them at that very moment.

I would disagree here. Mail is like a physical post box: a lot of different stuff comes in completely unsorted; the only common link is the medium Mail. DEVONthink, on the other hand, is more like different shelves in different rooms to me, over which I distribute the incoming mails according to their content.

Fair enough. :grin:

Thanks! I’ll sift through them as time allows.

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Regarding hiding databases

Thanks, but that doesn’t help. I cannot hide the Open Databases section, as this is the very section which includes the emulated “third column” of the three column view. But if I make it visible, it does not only show the database I’m currently working with in this window, but also all the other, completely unrelated databases, which is exactly the completely useless additional complexity I do not want. (Funnily, I would not make use of all the other tipps in the linked article, as I actually do want as much info visible as possible – but only for the database I’m currently working with.)

This would only work if there was an Only show the current database in sidebar preference setting which would change the Open Databases section to a Current Database section which is pinned to its window. It’s the very idea of a Document Window to be associated with one document and not all documents an app has opened …

Speaking of which: The linked document says

  • With View > Customize Toolbar, you can set the toolbar to Icon only or a hyper-minimalist Text only. Bear in mind, you will no longer have the proxy icon in the toolbar with these options.

but I don’t see a proxy icon in the Icon and Text view mode, either (which may make it hard to locate the database in the Finder). :frowning:

I cannot hide the Open Databases section, as this is the very section which includes the emulated “third column” of the three column view.

The Open Databases section can be collapsed to hide the databases. If the databases aren’t unified, per the General Preferences, it’s the active database section that you’d navigate.
You can get back to the root of the database via the Go > to Group command, Go > Top Group, or clicking in the Path bar over the item list.

but I don’t see a proxy icon in the Icon and Text view mode, either (which may make it hard to locate the database in the Finder ).

I don’t follow what this has to do with locating a database in the Finder, but if you’re referring to Big Sur and using the new style with the title to the left side of the window, hovering over the title will show the proxy icon and you can Control-click it.

I’m trying to wrap around my head why your workflow is so conflicting with the changed UI in DT3. You’ve explained some of it, so it could certainly be just me who doesn’t really understand the necessity of the three panes in your situation. As such, I don’t mean to disrespect that situation with this comment. I simply don’t get it.

The reason I ask is one of the quotes that @BLUEFROG posted in that compex thread mentioned by @Blanc and to me stood out from all others:

In others words: the 3 panes in DT2 for you are obviously a tool to achieve some goal. It can be hard to change a habit or a workflow, but could another approach be to rethink that workflow?

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One observation I have made among those who strongly longed for the return of 3-pane-view is that a fair number of these people have a large number of separate databases, such as attorneys who put each case in its own database.

Would it be an option for you to use nested groups in some cases instead of multiple databases? That would not only lessen the pain of losing the 3PV but also allow a method for you to hide certain databases from view.

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Yes, but when I do this, I don’t see the group hierarchy in the “third column” a.k.a. part of the Open Databases section anymore and my whole point is that I need to see this constantly.

But it’s not about navigating for me. The importance of having the third column for me is to constantly see at a glimpse where exactly in the group hierarchy I currently am (including the groups before and after). This is absolutely crucial for my way of working. But at the same time, as these hierarchies are complex enough, I do not want to see any other, completely unrelated databases which are just visual clutter for my current work.

Uhm, per macOS conventions Command-clicking on the proxy icon reveals the whole file path to where the document (in our case the database) is located (and also allows to immediately jump to any part of this path in the Finder). This works just fine in DEVONthink Pro 2:
DT2-Proxy

But in DEVONthink 3, the proxy icon is missing:
DT3-Proxy

I don’t. I’m using Mojave.

Yes, but when I do this, I don’t see the group hierarchy in the “third column” a.k.a. part of the Open Databases section anymore and my whole point is that I need to see this constantly.

Correct. As I pointed out and marqueed in the screencap, you’re not going to see the hierarchy in the Open Databases section. You will see it in the active database section.

Here it is again, noting you can collapse the Open Databases section to hide other databases and still access the hierarchy of the active database.

Uhm, per macOS conventions Command -clicking on the proxy icon reveals the whole file path to where the document (in our case the database) is located (and also allows to immediately jump to any part of this path in the Finder ). This works just fine in DEVONthink Pro 2 :

For a file, the proxy icon shows and allows you to jump to places in the item’s location, not the Finder.

A database or group doesn’t show the proxy icon. Development would have to assess this behavior.

It’s not easy to explain something that is so completely obvious to myself.

Maybe one important point is that I use DEVONthink less for storing content of others rather than creating my own content. I.e. the vast majority of documents inside of most of my databases are .rtfd etc. docs I’ve written myself. Think of the third column with the group hierarchy as a hierarchical table of contents. While writing, I need to be able to be constantly looking at this table of contents to keep myself aware of where I am in the greater scheme of things; it’s just the way my brain works.

I disagree strongly. From my POV, the most basic difference between good and bad software (apart from trivial things such as bugs) is that good software offers you options to adapt it to your way of working, whereas bad software forces you to adapt your way of working to the structure of the software.

Of course, other people and software vendors in particular can entertain another POV. That’s fine with me; then I simply do not buy such software. What is not fine with me is if a software offers a specific, basic and defining feature at first and then removes it in an upgrade.

The three pane view is such a basic and defining feature in my POV. When I was looking initially for an information managing software, there were three points which I could not live without: a fully fledged rtfd text editor completely embedded in macOS (i.e. basically a TextEdit sibling), separated databases stored just like different documents in different parts of the fie system and the three pane view.

DEVONthink fulfilled all of this (although the database separation wasn’t as strict as I would have liked), so I bought it and hoped I could stick with it for all of my work. Now, after investing countless hours in working with this software, I feel as if the rug is pulled out from under my feet. I have a hard time finding such action acceptable.

Also, I don’t buy the argument that most users were confused by the three pane view. One of the most basic applications in macOS, and probably the first database-like application newbies encounter, is macOS Mail. And Mail has a three pane view. This has to be one of the most familiar GUI concepts for any Mac user. DEVONthink overwhelms many users with the myriad of options it offers and sometimes its GUI is inconsistent and confusing (case in point: the indecisiveness between a document based application (= multiple databases wrapped as different documents and opened in separate windows when launching them from the Finder) and a non-document based one (= other databases also listed in the window opened from the Finder with one specific database, no document proxy icon in DEVONthink 3)), but this basic option and familiar view is removed? :woozy_face:

No. I spent many months looking for a software that offers me what I need (including the three pane view). I will not rewire my brain because some developer felt like removing it.

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Ah, OK, now I finally got it. The problem is that reproducing all the settings you’ve described does not immediately have the effect you describe. You’d first have to select another database than the currently active one and only then the GUI changes to what your screenshot shows. I’ve never changed the active database while trying to reproduce your suggestion; so I was stuck.

This comes indeed very close to what I need, so thanks a lot that you’ve kept pointing in this direction repeatedly! :blush::blush::blush: Since I can also reorder the sections, I can move everything else below the Active Database section; this makes it relatively easy to ignore it. :blush: (And as a bonus, this setting gets rid of the blue, eye cancer inducing group icons. :grin:)

So, thanks again!

DEVONthink Pro 2 did and the proxy icon worked perfectly consistent with macOS guidelines (to locate the databases in the Finder).

This comes indeed very close to what I need, so thanks a lot that you’ve kept pointing in this direction repeatedly! :blush::blush::blush:

Glad to hear it and you’re welcome :smiley:

Since I can also reorder the sections, I can move everything else below the Active Database section; this makes it relatively easy to ignore it. :blush:

Indeed you can reorder the sections of the Navigate sidebar! You can’t delete them but you can sure collapse and move them up and down.

DEVONthink Pro 2 did and the proxy icon worked perfectly consistent with macOS guidelines (to locate the databases in the Finder ).

Development would have to weigh in on this.

In this example, I’d agree with you that it makes sense to combine the cases in one database.

But my situation is different in that I work in very different fields, physics, social sciences, music, …

These are completely unrelated subjects, so putting them into one common database is just … wrong. The databases are even stored on different volumes.

I’m not sure how this would it make easier to hide other databases, but in any case, the suggestion from @BLUEFROG seems to come close enough, so I think I can live with that. :blush:

Anyway, thank you for trying to help me! (The same thanks goes to @Solar-Glare and @Blanc, of course!)

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I’m really pleased to hear that :slight_smile:

Trying to apply my new knowledge of how to reconstruct the three pane view, I have a follow-up question:

How do I create a new top level group in the Active Database section of the sidebar? If no existing group is selected, the New buttons/menus are disabled; if an existing group is selected, the new group is created inside the existing group and I cannot drag it to the top level (nor can I rearrange existing groups on the top level (if sorting is switched off) via drag&drop).

I’d file this under unexpected behavior.

@cgrunenberg : If the Open Databases section is closed, going to the Top Group will either select the Global Inbox (if Inboxes aren’t unified) or it will show the contents of the database’s root but you can’t create a new group.

If you show the Open Databases section, going to the Top Group will select the root and you can create a new group.

Going to the Top Group should allow for creating a new group or potentially the database’s name in the active section could be selectable and/or receive drops.