DEVONthink example databases

In our DEVONacademy we have published a list of example databases to help new users getting started with DEVONthink. I would like to extend this list so I’m curious what you would think would be useful examples that can get noobs a hand up or demonstrate new uses for DEVONthink?

It might be beneficial to create some “copycat” databases – for instance, ones that mime the default layout and functionality of, say, Scrivener or Journler or similar apps. I’m not sure how possible that is given DEVONthink 1.X’s functionality, but depending on whether there are semi-structured documents/documents behaving as groups/HTML templates/etc in DTP2, it might be a minor affair to accomplish this for DTP2’s release.

For instance, one of the neat things in Scrivener is the “Corkboard,” ( … kboard.jpg ) which displays a document title and a brief synopsis (or just the first couple hundred characters of the document). This would seem to me to be a simple thing to accomplish with HTML and hooks into the database (I’m talking about just displaying images layered with some text grabbed out of each document in a different font), and while it wouldn’t offer all of the functionality of Scrivener’s corkboard, it would be some pretty gorgeous eyecandy that would display DTP2’s strengths.

But of course, that makes presumptions about the featureset of DTP2 that likely won’t happen. I’ve thought about this question for a while and haven’t come up with any ideas that are based around things I know to exist in DTP1 or DTP2. You guys know the popular non-DEVON applications, though, and I think that “homages” :wink: might be a good idea.

For my part I would not need a cork board or other background image. But a “synopsis-view” would be great. Selecting a group at present only shows icons and titles in the preview pane. Thats fine for images but almost useless for text. Getting a synopsis-view with title and first paragraph would be a great help when reorganizing stuff. With several windows open and drag&drop it would be much more usable then a Scriveners cork board (try the cork board when you have more than a handfull scenes to move around and you know what I mean). Finally it would be great to have an option to gather the synopsis-view of a selection into a new text-document.


Interesting. Something like the Digest view of the results of a DEVONagent 2.x search set?

What about Eric’s request for additional example – tutorial – database suggestions. Ideas to add to the list at

I have never used DevonAgent, but what I see from screenshoots it looks like what I’m thinking off. It would be important for me that I can customize the way DTP creates the digest (how many words, paragraphs, from top or “intelligent”).

Looking at the visual topic map in DevonAgent I wonder whether this kind of visualisation could be integrated into DTP … searching your own database should fall back behind searching the web :wink:

Just a thought.

I would suggest an example DTP for writers (research, plot, character-notes, tracking places and time, drafts). Thats my main use of it and I might share some of my experience. But I am still working on the structure (and waiting for 2.0 :wink: ). I jumped to DTP half way while working on a project and I still have not finished to clean up the converted data to make use of all DTP-possibilities of organizing things. That it works well even within a chaotic data heap is one of the reasons why I like DTP.


I’ve considered building a “prototype” database and sending it in. DTP doesn’t work quite the way I want it to right now, though, so I have a lot of ugly hacks doing things that (I hope) will be simpler and more elegant in DTP2.

I’m not sure if your methods are anything like mine, but I’d enjoy seeing how you organize things. I wanted to start a thread for writers but I feel like I sound like a pretentious asshole whenever I talk about writing :blush:

I’m especially interested in people who work on series, since that’s what I do. “After 800 pages, I’m still trying to find a comfortable seat.” A lot more complications there:

  • the looming threat of duplicated documents,
  • the questions of where to put elements common to multiple volumes,
  • the need to classify information differently based on context (am I working on Chapter 42 of Volume MXCI, or am I writing about a single character’s evolution throughout the series?),
  • certain functions (total word count of only the most recent drafts of each chapter),
  • time tracking/journaling/note-taking,
  • research, as you mentioned,
  • and so forth.

This can all be done by hand, and it can all be done in DTP 1. That’s pretty much the system I have, although I’ve left out a lot of things that are more particular to what I’m writing. And, sadly, my project is not just in DTP but also in external AppleScripts, server apps, Photoshop (because many of the maps and stuff I have are over 1GB, and even the smaller ones cause DTP to drag ass – might be because of my aging iBook G3), Graphviz (plot maps, etc), and so on.

So right now, with DTP’s functionality, I’d be uploading a database consisting largely of folders and maybe some documents explaining the other things I’ve implemented, why, how, etc. My hope is that DTP 2 (with “easy” smart groups and improvements to the sheet functionality, Quicklook, and things like that) will enable me to greatly streamline my process, and I’ll upload something like my database.

If nothing else, it might give hope to other novelists that there is a usable tool out there for them… I know a lot of working writers who look at the cookie-cutter writing apps out there and think “but I’m not Dan Brown!” and figure that they’re going to have to build their own app or adapt an unsuited program (mine was MediaWiki, which actually worked quite well). [The worst thing about it is the constant aura of patronization and condescension around many of these products and their developers – “here is a 35x50-pixel NSTextBox for your main character’s motivations!”]

As it was, I happened upon DTP through pure chance, and only downloaded it and tried it some time later. I thought I was going to have to go to Rent a Coder and commission a custom app.

Sorry. Anyway, yeah, I’m looking forward to giving back to the community with a pretty in-depth mythopoeic database when DTP2 comes. Hopefully it’ll save a couple people several years of trial and error.