DevonThink as plug-ins?

I’m looking at DevonThink, and I’m impressed… mostly. It is maddeningly close to what we need, but lacks the OS integration to be universal enough to be useful. And because it is not integratedm DT features both overlap with the OS features, yet are mutually exclusive.

I’d like to see the DT technologies more deeply integrated with the OS. In fact I think it would be better implemented as a set of plug-ins: a Spotlight plug-in, a finder plug-in, a save dialog plug-in, and a safari plug-in.

Here are my observations:

  1. Search. Spotlight is system wide, and has broad support for a multitude of different file formats (since all developers want their stuff to work with spotlight). Don’t compete with spotlight, build on top of it. Store everything in the finder structure and build your algorithms on top on stoplights search.

  2. Finder The DT 3-pane viewer/editor is overlapping the function of the Finder. Make devonthink 3 pane-view just another view in the finder: list, icon, 3-pane view.

  3. Save. Often what keeps us from saving small things like notes is the time to file, not the time to create. Add devonthinks Classification features to the OS save dialog.

Interesting comments. But we have very different perspectives about the working environment of a database such as DT Pro.

I’ve used a Windows database application that, on its face, met your specifications for a “usable” database. I hated it, because although it unified the searching experience across everything on my drive, when the time came to work with my data everything was again fragmented into different working environments. And it was lacking in a host of features provided by the DEVOnthink applications that tie together the information contained in a DT database, from the glossary and related word analysis features to the AI support.

I rarely use Spotlight, because it seems draggingly slow to me, and the results are presented as what seems to me a fragmented and unfriendly environment. It’s a series of lists, that’s all. All I can assume is that each of the items meets the search query, but all I have to work with is a list of names and file types, which have to be individually opened in a parent application – at which point my working environment fragments all over the place.

I’ve never used nor advocated DEVONthink databases to gather together all of the files on my disks. Over the years I’ve lovingly accumulated collections of files reflecting my professional and personal interests.

My databases are topically organized, for several reasons. First, I’m spoiled; I want very fast searches, often just a few milliseconds – in other words, orders of magnitude faster response than Spotlight. But I’ve got many hundreds of gigabytes of files, and were these to be dumped into a single database performance would be unsatisfactory. Second, and very importantly, when I design a database with a focus of relationships among the component documents, the AI features become much more useful to me. Third, I like my databases to be self-contained so that I can migrate a database from my Power Mac G5 to my MacBook Pro, or the on-order ModBook. Were I to create a single DT Pro database on my Power Mac, which has a full terabyte of online disk space and hundreds of gigabytes of data files, it couldn’t be used on a laptop.

So I’ve got a ‘library’ of DT Pro databases, topically organized like the shelves of a library, with a collective content of more than 150,000 documents. They don’t contain all of the files on my computers. Instead, they represent those files that are especially interesting or useful to me for various purposes.

My main database reflects my professional interests in environmental science. technology and policy. It covers a diverse but related group of scientific and technical disciplines, from analytical chemistry to toxicology to conservation ecology to climate change. It covers a broad range of policy issues, legislation and regulations in the U.S., the EU and developing countries. It supports my interests in international environmental science exchanges, and related resources for graduate student training.

Because there are many practical relationships among this collection, the AI features such as See Also are extremely useful to me when I’m researching a topic.

But I’ve split out a related collection of highly specific collections of chemical analytical methodologies, environmental sampling and data evaluation methodologies and risk assessment literature from that main database for two reasons:[1] this collection will actually grown larger than my main database and if combined would severely degrade responsiveness and [2] it would degrade the utility of the AI assistance in suggesting related material by adding too much minutiae to the list.

I maintain other databases for banking, tax and other financial records. That lets me instantly find what I need, but has no significant overlap with other databases for other purposes.

I’ve got a very large database containing years of listserve files about the Apple Newton technology. And so on.

I try to maintain my main database size so that I don’t get pageouts (virtual memory use) on my MacBook Pro with 2 GB RAM. As a practical matter, the database remains extremely responsive up to about 24 million words total content. But as this is also my default database I use it to accumulate new content – especially from the Web – that will ultimately go into other databases. At the moment my main database is approaching 26 million words total and is showing pageouts on the MacBook Pro. Sometime soon I’ll export material to other databases and purge the exported items from my main database. But of course the current database size remains very responsive on my Power Mac with 5 GB RAM, and I expect it to be responsive on the ModBook with 3 GB RAM.

When I’m working on a research and writing project I ‘live in’ my database. My references are literally at my fingertips. I draft my notes inside the database and if I want to check out a term’s use in my references I can select it and press the Option key; there’s a list of other documents that used that term. Or I can select a paragraph or section of my notes and select the contextual menu option See Selected Text; DT Pro will provide a list of documents that are contextually similar, and I can explore ideas in that way. If I need additional reference material I can look for it with the built-in browser or devise a search query, select it and control-click on it to start a search in DEVONagent.

What I love about my DT Pro databases is the working environment and the ‘research assistant’ support for analyzing information content.

Are there weaknesses in my use of DT Pro in this way? Sure. Currently only one database at a time can be open, although it’s pretty quick to switch between databases. There’s no provision for searching across databases, so I’ve got to remember which database contains what I may be looking for – as a practical problem, not terribly limiting.

Because of the Tower of Babel problem of all those proprietary file types out there, and the fact that DT Pro can’t capture text content from many of them, I tend to restrict the file types I put into my database. I avoid use of Word, as .doc files aren’t captured into my database, so I tend to open those in Papyrus 12 and save them as hybrid PDFs for import to my database. I can’t directly read many file types such as PowerPoint, Keynote, Mellel, Excel and so on; if important, I’ll save them as PDF for capture to the database.

The way I work, Spotlight integration isn’t important.

The future DT Pro 2.0 will reduce memory requirements, so I’ll be able to run larger databases on the MacBook Pro without loss of speed. It will have Spotlight integration and that will likely address the issue of searches across databases. I expect that some additional important file types will be recognized for text capture and perhaps at least partial rendering. Multiple concurrently open databases are planned (limited by available memory). And search queries will have the full power of DEVONagent’s search queries (that will be one of the most important features of version 2.0).

Give me a Mac Pro with 32 GB RAM and I could run a database containing many hundreds of thousands of documents. But the capabilities of the AI support I currently experience with my topical databases wouldn’t be as good as my current experience, if only because the AI would have to be drastically revised to filter out trivia (the reason I separated my references containing primary and overview literature from procedure and methodology references). And I don’t expect to see laptops capable of that amount of RAM (and drive space) for the next five years or so.

This would be like murdering your wife and surgically grafting her left leg onto your body.

Point 1: The point of a program like DevonThink is to tie together all of the different pieces of information we have into one organized place. We work in an application centered OS - but our work isn’t application centered, its document centered. Devonthink attempts to pull this all together, but its its own worst enemy adding yet another highly modal application that doesn’t work well with the OS and other apps. What you need to do this well is tight integration. Why should I hop out of the finder to go into an “alternate finder” to find some files in an alternate “file system”? Where did I put something, is it in the alternate finder, or the regular finder? It is too bipolar and modal - too old school. I want to just click the Devonthink 3-pane view in the finder window, click on the the “database” (ie. file tree) I’m interest in and go.

Point 2: There is no reason that devonthink built on top of spotlight has to have anything to do with how the spotlight interface operates currently. You could easily have search groups that only search particular folder trees - fast. A DT database is functionally the same thing a folder tree in the finder - only DT makes it proprietary and un-interoperable with other app and the OS.

Point 3: Spotlight is only going to get better in 10.5, and offer many more features and better interface. If Apple patent disclosures show the future of spotlight (10.5 or beyond), spotlight will become a FAR more rich with metadata options than DT is, or possible could become on its own (much of the capabilities are only possible in the OS). Spotlight will slowly encroach on DT, as it already has to some degree. To try and compete rather than build on top of a good thing, will be fruitless in the long-run, and waste resources that could build better features.

Point 4: It is fruitless to compete with spotlights developer support for file types. Everybody will support the OS, very few will put the time in to support Devonthink. Want to index Mellel documents? Can’t do it in DevonThink, can in spotlight.

Point 5. If Devonthink used Spotlight & the filesystem to store files if could be far more useful and universal. I need REAL multi-media support, not just pictures, HTML and text. I need to work with spreadsheets, graphics, 3D drawings, word files, math files, sound files, etc. I need to tie bits and pieces of all types of files together. I’m not all that thrilled with Devonthinks notes + outliner, maybe I want to use Curio or some other notebook, but I need it to be indexed too and grouped with my project files! I like devonthink for storing journal PDFs. But what about references for articles I haven’t found yet, well those are in Sente, i need that to be indexed with everything else. As long as DT make it own proprietary world it will fall far short of it potential.

I don’t disagree with many of your points, but I do disagree that using DT Pro to capture all of one’s information into a central repository is necessarily the most effective use, especially regarding the use of the AI features. Indeed, I find that AI support becomes more useful when I deliberately segregate some of my information collections.

One example was the advantage i noted in separating the primary and overview reference materials in my main database from the detailed methodological and procedural material in my collection of chemical analytical, environmental sampling, and data assessment/evaluation materials.

Still another example is use of DT Pro databases that can be distributed on CD or DVD as collections of resources for graduate training. This allows organization (including hyperlinking), searching, analysis and comparison of materials in a consistent environment that allows the user to add notes, links, metadata and additional materials (when transferred from read-only to a computer).

If you look at the discussions about the future version 2.0 of DT applications you will see that the file system will be used to store all documents, and that databases will be integrated with Spotlight. Then, if you wish, you can use Spotlight to look at the entire contents of a hard drive, or all online drives, or the contents of all your DT Pro databases. But if I examine a Spotlight result list and click on a file that’s in a DT Pro database, I don’t want to open that file under its parent application. I want to open it in the much richer environment of a DT Pro database.

When I write a book I’m selectively incorporating text, images and an organizational structure, usually for the purpose of providing not only information to the reader but guidance to an overview of the topic and how to evaluate a range of views about the topic. While writing that book I pull together a wide range of carefully selected reference materials about the topic and make a lot of notes. I’ll compare how aspects of that topic are treated among my collection of references and notes. In the old days, if I had a grant, I’d hire a couple of graduate student research assistants to help me find reference materials, make notes and organize them. (Yes, I also went through the drudgery of being such a research assistant, myself.) In the process of conceptualizing all of that material into a coherent final product I found myself constantly rummaging through stacks of books, file cabinets and shoe boxes filled with note cards.

Nowadays a DT Pro database becomes that selected compilation of references, my research assistant and the environment in which I can organize search for, compare and analyze ideas and enter my notes and drafts. From within my database I can look for additional material on the Web using the built-in browser, or compose and initiate a search query in the companion DEVONagent application.

I’ve got a host of tools that are not available in Spotlight or OS X, now or in the next few years, at least. My searches usually take a few milliseconds – orders of magnitude faster than a Spotlight search, with ranked results presented in a much richer environment. I can compare the use of words and terms in my collection instantly. I can use See Also or See Selected Text to look for contextually similar material within my collection. I can use hyperlinks (static or Wiki) to help me link together selected items, or even turn part or all of the project into a Web site though which I might request comments from colleagues, or distribute the project. I can quickly modify my organization of materials using searches, replicants or duplicates (duplicates, or a rich text conversion from PDF, HTML or WebArchive if I wish to highlight or annotate a reference without damaging the original), smart groups and so on. I’ve got AI assistance in classifying new materials I add to the database.

I think you are still viewing DT Pro as a Finder replacement, and entirely overlooking how powerful topical or project databases become as an information collection/analysis/creation working environment far richer than OS X Tiger or Leopard.

Such a project database can be quickly constructed from materials exported from other DT Pro databases, from import of Finder files and from Web sources. BTW, although database contents are not currently visible to Spotlight, if one runs a Daily Backup script on a database, all of its contents are exported as files in the Finder and are visible to Spotlight for indexing and searching.

Bottom line: Don’t let preconceptions about how DT Pro does or doesn’t interact with OS X stop you from taking a look at how DT Pro/Office 1.3.1 can be used in very powerful ways.

I can’t resist another example. A law office might ‘broadcast’ to Mac and PC users, from a little headless Mac Mini, a DT Pro Office database containing all of the office’s policy and procedure documents and forms, company news and other documents for general access – an easy and cheap Intranet. Sure, that can be done in other ways under OS X, but DT Pro Office makes it so simple – just a database of selected content searchable over a local wireless network, providing downloads of forms, etc.

That same law office might scan, OCR and save to a database documentation relevant to a case, add case law documentation relevant to the case, and provide the database on a MacBook to a lawyer heading for court. Result: no bulky, heavy paper, fast search and retrieval and integrated note-taking.

The problem is its too limited for the diversity of file type to be useful. If it can only work with 40% of my file types, that is not usefully enough to use - in fact it becomes a distraction.

As for a finder replacement, I think you have too limited a view of what the finder could become - a very rich environment, with ‘AI’ assistants helping you file, link, organize and find everything in your system. You are stuck in the present mindset of finder as application launcher, instead of finder as a smart, computer-wide assistant. There is no reason, that spotlight needs to be slow if only looking at a subset of your hard-drive (i.e. your database) - it will give you fast results just like devonthink.

For some the modal nature of DT works because they have a very limited scope of what they want from it - for example to store info for 1 research project that will end when they graduate from school, and that doesn’t go beyond, PDFs, HTML, RTFs, & pictures.

My life has dozens of on-going projects that fill my whole computer, text and periodical archives, notes & snippets, research data, etc, etc. What on my computer doesn’t deserve better organization, search, save, & navigation?

Here is an example.

I use excel for note taking. Yes its not the best note taking environment. But I need a richer media environment for note taking. Text, outliner, HTML, links, pictures, and… live math. Since most all programs can handle the first items, the least common denominator is the math capability. So excel it is, as there aren’t any other programs that support intermixed live-math (MathCad is no longer on the mac… to bad, maybe maple?).

I’d love a richer note taking environment, but devonthink is not it. And since it doesn’t understand excel files, I’t useless for my notes, which make it dubious all around. And this is just an example of the many deficiencies of the closed environment. (and also the unfortunate loss of document centered computing, with Object linking and embedding, which the mac does not have a facility for)

If I took most of my notes using Excel, as you do, I might agree with you. :slight_smile:

Question: I know that one can take notes in Excel, as I’ve done that myself. But I’d think it would be a bear to extract rich text, images and tables from it to put into a finished product – which is what I do with many of my notes.

I often decry the Tower of Babel problem with all of the proprietary file types running around. But the reality is that most of the references that I accumulate are available in PDF, HTML or text these days – certainly, all of the papers from the scientific journals that I frequent. As for the odd incompatible but important file types I may want to incorporate (even including Excel sheets) it takes little time and effort to change them to a compatible file type.

I’ve settled on Papyrus 12 as my external word processor/spreadsheet application, as it provides a hybrid PDF format that’s completely compatible with my databases.

Gee, at age 75 and having worked around computers since the 1960s, I’ve followed repeated dreams of intelligent finder databases with AI assistance and a wonderful working environment, for a long time. I think it would be wonderful were those dreams to come to reality. But they haven’t yet, certainly not at the consumer level with available and affordable software and hardware resources.

Unfortunately, reality raises its ugly head. The finder really is pretty much an application launcher rather than an intelligent, computer-wide assistant. Spotlight is a step forward, but it still pretty much sucks. Even if I narrow a Spotlight search to a subset of the computer’s content, the result is pretty poor; as a working environment, it’s simply bad.

Modal nature of DT Pro? What are you talking about? “Modal” implies limitation, usually in a linear fashion. DT Pro actually lets me escape from the current modality of Finder and Spotlight when I’m looking for information. DT Pro doesn’t impose a hierarchical structure on my data, as I can easily and fluidly look at it in many different ways. I’ve got tools that let me group, auto-group, classify, auto-classify, replicate into smart groups, analyze and compare documents in several ways and so on. Modal? No. I work with changeable clusters of data.

My life has many ongoing projects too, and I’ve got hundreds of thousands of files spread among three computers.

There’s lots of stuff on my computers that – at least at any given time – I don’t find very interesting or useful. Much of it could be trashed without loss, and periodically I do some housecleaning.

At the moment I’m managing over 150,000 files among various DT Pro databases. Which means that at one point or another I found some usefulness or interest in those files.

Two of those databases reflect my professional interests in environmental science, technology, policy and education. Between them, they account for about 45,000 files. I’ve accumulated them over the years, and those files exist nowhere else on my computer than in my databases themselves. They are therefore computer-independent, as I can readily move them to whatever computer I’m using.

Those two databases have supported many projects over the years, and continue to do so. Yes, most of the content is in text, PDF, HTML, WebArchive, image and QT formats, as most of my sources provide them in just those formats, or I’ve converted, e.g. a Powerpoint presentation to PDF.

Modal? Certainly not, as to the tools at hand that usefully let me analyze the information contained in those databases. As to my own thoughts in reviewing and analyzing the information and concepts embodied in those databases, I try to avoid modal thinking. :slight_smile:

Which isn’t to say that all modal thinking is bad. It’s nearly time to turn in my federal and state tax reports. So I’ve got a DT Pro database that contains all of the information – withholding forms, investment reports, checks, receipts, tax forms, tax form instructions – that make it somewhat less unpleasant to go through the highly modal, linear process of meeting and documenting tax return requirements. It’s all there (including the completed forms), and I can find it more quickly than looking though Excel worksheets using Spotlight. :slight_smile:

OK fair enough. I think AI is to ambitious a word, I used it cause DT uses it… But what DT does is far more simple.

My main point is the ONLY thing that separates the finder from DT is a few features (group, auto-group, classify, auto-classify, etc) and a few utilities (notebook, scanner->PDF) that could be replaced by a dozen competitive utility apps. Otherwise they are the same (files put in hierarchical folder trees, that are searchable by keywords and meta-data). I don’t see a good argument, that there is some benefit in separating some of your data into another duplicative structure, other than that is how you happen to work now because of the limitation of the software you are using. Those few unique features would best be built on the system-wide functionality - its not some futuristic dream - very doable now.

I see no conceptual difference between dropping a file into my organized finder folders, and dropping it into the DT folders. The only difference right now is auto-classify - which is great! But wouldn’t I want it integrated into every OS X save dialog box, so all my files could auto classified?

Right now spotlight had small, but I’d guess real market encroachment on DT. But 10.5 (in 2 months) will be more so. I will have faster search, support better searching (booleans, meta-data searches), it will have a vastly improved interface with a 3 pane view and auto preview, deeper metadata support and further inclusion by applications. It will also support networks. The rumors, largely based on actual apple patents, suggest it will also auto scan words from pictures to build metadata, analyze basic metadata from sound files, and support some level of natural language parsing and related words search.

Spotlights features, as they become better will erode the usefullness of DT as an independent application. The truly unique features should be freed and applied to the whole system. Then the developer(s) can spend their time making those really great AI features we all want, rather than duplicating efforts with a far larger, and more resourceful competitor (Apple).

I think you missed the MOST important feature, which is “See Also”. That’s where the real power comes in. Yes, the auto stuff is nice, but I only use that when adding a new document to my database. I use the “See Also” ALL the time.

Maybe Spotlight will one day try to implement “See Also” functionality, maybe not. Until it does though, DT is hugely useful to me, and as a result I never even touch Spotlight (as everything I care about is in my DT database).

And to reiterate a point Bill made before, being able to move a single database between machines is something that just wouldn’t work as well if DT was working against the entire filesystem.

That’s just me though. And remember, not every application will always work for everyone. The DT workflow is exactly what I need, and fits my brain properly, and I would be horrified to see it change in the direction you want :slight_smile:

Jay P.

Well again, then DT should implement “see also” on-top of the spotlight infrastructure - so it is universal.

Question: is “see also”, implemented any different than “similar pages” in google? In tens of thousands of search if probably only clicked “similar pages” 2 times. Maybe I’m missing the utility.

I’ve often been amused at your grand vision of information managment and analysis via plugins to the OS. I’ve seen attempts to take that sort of approach, both in Windows and Mac. I wouldn’t want to use any of the approaches so far, as none of them provided a very useful environment – I found them disjointed and unpleasant, and much weaker than the capabilities available to me in DT Pro currently.

Yes, DT Pro can currently read and display only a limited number of file types. But it handles those in a more uniform environment than does the Finder or Spotlight. I don’t have to go skipping about from application to application to see the documents in a search list, and there’s consistency in adjusting view size, procedures to compare contextual patterns among all documents in the database, commands to look at word usage – in short a lot of built-in tools and procedures that help make a database a working environment to manage, find (in many ways) analyze and create information.

Yes, a future Spotlight may display search results in something like the Three-Panes view, with a file’s contents displayed when it is selected. That would be a considerable advance – but only a first step, still lacking in the layers of tools and procedures already available to DT Pro users when they view such a Three-Panes view of search results.

Your question about See Also strongly indicates that you really haven’t tried out DT Pro and are working entirely from preconceptions rather than experience.

One of those preconceptions is that a database must incorporate everything on your computer. That flies in the face of information theory and practical experience. When one is analyzing information, it’s more efficient to reduce “noise”, which tends to mask the information of interest and to require resources to minimize it. When DT Pro’s See Also feature is invoked, the procedure is memory intensive. DT Pro “looks” at the word usage and patterns in the document being viewed, examines all the other documents in the database for similarities, and presents a suggested list of similar documents.

I make heavy use of See Also when I’m doing research and looking for ideas. I like the results to be presented quickly, as I often follow trails of ideas. On my MacBook Pro with 2 GB RAM, See Also works quickly with a database word content of about 24 million words. It runs into memory pageouts for RAM-intensive operations at a significantly larger database size. So I find it efficient to create topical databases, minimizing the resource needs to sort out the “noise” of irrelevant data. (Previously, I cited an example of better See Also results by segregating primary and procedural references on similar topics, even if I had a large amount of physical RAM.)

Spotlight merely does indexing and searching (even smart folders are simple search results). DT Pro does a great deal more than Spotlight.

When I go to a library to seek information for a research topic, I find it useful that the books on the shelves are topically organized rather than shelved randomly. That organization makes my search for information enormously more efficient by reducing the noise or clutter of irrelevant information. I don’t have months or years to examine every item on every shelf, nor do I have a budget to hire a thousand research assistants.

The topical content of my main database isn’t as simple as pulling a set of adjacent books off a shelf and scanning them into my computer. It’s actually a collection of information from a number of scientific and technical disciplines, policy analysis, economics and laws and regulations from several countries. So it’s a carefully selected collection, and one would have to visit a number of shelves in various areas of the library to find such information. It has a coherence for me, because it contains the kinds of information I’m most likely to need when I’m doing research in that area. I spend a lot of time and thought about adding various kinds of information to make this collection more useful to me.

That database is my private research library for much of my work. It’s worth far more to me than the computer that may host it at any given time, and it’s not tied to the file system of any of my computers.

There are times when I ‘live in’ that database, rarely emerging to look at any other application on my computer. Everything I need as a working environment is in there. :slight_smile:

Don’t see what is so grand about it. It would actually take less effort to implement these features ontop of what apple has already done (and will continue to do), then a small developer trying to go at it alone.

Just think of apple as having another 20 engineers working on Devonthink’s underpinnings.

Frankly if Devonthink doesn’t go this or a somewhat similar route, their user base will erode significantly over the next few years, as most people will feel that the OS technologies fulfill most of their needs. From a survey of peoples reviews around the web, this has already occurred since spotlight was introduced. That means less income, and less development… already ver 2.0 looks like it is a year late.

No idea how it’s implemented in either Google or DT. I too have never really used Google’s “similar pages”, but there are a few reasons for that.

  1. Context. In Google, when you find a result you might like, you click it, and it takes you away from Google. The link is no longer right there, so I don’t think about it. I usually go to Google looking for a particular piece of info. Once I find it, I’m done.

  2. With Google, I go there searching for a certain phrase. In general, the top search results for that phrase are all the data I want. With DT though, I use “See Also” when I’m already reading something, I don’t initiate it from some kind of search. I’ll be reading something, and want to see what else in my DB is related to the entire thing

  3. Google, for all intents and purposes, has the full universe of possible results, of varying quality. Items in my DT database are only there because I explicitly put them there, so in essence, I’ve done pre-filtering for items that I already approve of, and thus am more willing to wade through the “See Also” results.

I’d love to see this survey you speak of. What are they measuring? The number of people that have left DT to use Spotlight exclusively? The number of people that use Spotlight for searching their harddrive? Because I doubt a survey of the former would include people who have migrated to DT since Spotlight was introduced (myself included), and the number would be 100% for the latter, as there is no other way to search the harddrive (unless you don’t mind playing in the Terminal).

I guess I just don’t understand your complaint. Yes, a few things would be nice for DT to change. Leveraging Spotlight to give DT the ability to index additional content would be great. But DT should remain a separate app. For some purposes, a dedicated application is a vastly superior option to a collection of disparate applications.

We have no idea what Apple will really do going into the future. We also have no idea what the DT sales numbers are. I’m sure if they’re seeing a mass exodus away from the application, they’d try something different, but I really doubt that’s happening.

I won’t give you the actual sales figures, but I can say that the rate of increase of sales of the DT family of applications has been steadily growing rather than declining since Spotlight was introduced.

It would be stretching the point to claim that it was Spotlight’s introduction that caused the rising upwards trend in DT sales.

But it seems even more false to claim that Spotlight has had a negative impact on DT sales.

At present, Spotlight and DT do not interact. In the future, they will. But they really don’t do the same thing.

taharvey :

I do agree in the hope of Spotlight improvements by Apple (though sometimes Apple deceives me because of it’s “minimalistic” approach) and in the hope of DTP interaction with Spotlight.

About the discussion of the inconsistency of having two trees of data, one in Finder and one in DTP, you must remember that you can use DT as an index of files (txt, pdf, webarchives… ) and use it as a tool for analysing data and text. As it is just an index, you can still use Spotlight for searching (or Quicksilver), but knowing that the algorithms of DT are very useful in scienfiphic research.

However, I do agree with the sensibility of your opinion: DTP design concept is sometimes too closed and oriented to and by legacy users. That means little openness to new ideas and concepts, as for example “tagging” (DT devs say that DT does tagging by folder nesting, I think it’s not the same thing), Spotlight (I think that a DT database should offer the option of being indexed by Spotlight or not), modern and stylish GUI (I think that a lot of the feature overlapping and confusion of the current DT is because of a not very clever GUI design -say, a 6 view browser is in the limit of usability-).

I hope that DT 2.0 is coming soon, with all these improvements. If there is a place for suggestions, I would hope to see a more transparent way to understand and use DT AI, for specific analysis problems. I should really orient DT as a text analysis tool, just kind a “photoshop for text”: it could be really give to option of create “plugins” to text and content analysis purposes.

Hi Bill,

Thanks for this impassioned defence of DT’s view of the world, which served as a refresher course in its use, too. But I didn’t understand this idea of selecting a word and clicking the option key: nothing seems to happen when I do this.


Tips on use is usually the point of my diatribes. :slight_smile:

Option clicking on a (single) selected word results in a drawer sliding out with a list of other documents that contain that term.

Works directly in plain or rich text documents or PDF documents.

For HTML or WebArchive documents it may be necessary to switch to Format > Edit Source, then select the word and Option-click.

After seeing the full demo of leopard, I come back to this discussion. With the improvements to spotlights searching, the greater wealth of meta-data available to the OS, and especially new quick view, the OS is providing the core functionality of DT in a better package that is OS wide, universal, supports a much broader set of file types, and has a better UI. To me the only major things missing are auto-classification, a safari archiver, and a hyperlinking notebook.

There are lots of notebook apps, so that is not a problem (in fact this way you can chose one that meets your needs). There are a few web archivers, though perhaps not well implemented. Leaving auto-classification, which would be really nice - but even with the current DT the auto-classification isn’t integrated with the OS save dialog, so it is of limited use (the whole point here is to save ideas, notes, articles fast… saving and then importing into Devon-Think undermines the whole concept).

Anyway. I’d like to use some of the features offered by DT, but I’m not going to give up a better universal system to get a few “nice to have features”. I’d really like to see DT do something really smart and integrated, leveraging the OS core functionality.

Which are precisely the features that I like about DT. Your understanding of the “core functionality of DT” seems to be somewhat different from mine.

You’re also forgetting an important detail. Leopard is not yet commercially available. DT is. While you’re waiting for “a better universal system,” I’m getting work done.