Devonthink for ppt management & retaining mobile file access

Hi -

I work in a very large tech company and deal with thousands of presentations and pdfs and I am very interested in using Devonthink tag, search and discover them. I don’t really plan to do composition/ work in DT the way a writer or lawyer might, just search and discovery.

However, I also live on the road and frequently want to access the underlying files on my mobile device or send them to someone using Dropbox. I don’t want to be dependent on Devonthink’s mobile application for this. I want direct access to the underlying files on my iPhone/ iPad.

I also don’t think I want to just index the files as there will then be the continual issue of files being moved (which I assume would mess up my DT tags even if Devonthink was indexing the other folder they were moved to) and deleted.

Is there any good way to accomplish this? My impression is that the product can’t do this today. What I think I really want is for DT to put its DT tag metadata on the file itself so that I can move the underlying file. Either that or uniquely track files using a hash so I can move them and it can ‘rediscover’ them in their new place and recognize it has already seen them.

Also, any tips for importing archive email from Outlook? I can always launder it through Mail if needed but I just use Outlook 2011 today so that would be preferable.

It looks the basic requirements are (1) you want to tag files, (2) you want to search for documents using their tags, (3) you want to access the files directly through Dropbox or a cloud app on both your desktop/laptop and “mobile device” (unspecified), and (4) you want freedom to reorganize folders without affecting 1,2, or 3?

In that case, I would not bother with DEVONthink. It’s not a particularly robust tag organizer for the case you described. Use Mavericks tagging and/or OpenMeta tagging – and a desktop/laptop utility such as Yep. Keep your files in Box, or Dropbox, or whatever. Access on your “mobile device” with a client made for your file service.

An alternate is to run something like LogMeIn Ignition and browse your desktop/laptop directly through a Windows or iOS mobile client.

All of this assumes the security people at your “very large tech company” are OK with this kind of sharing.

To clarify, I’m interested in Devonthink’s search and discovery features as well, not just tagging. So, the program is appealing beyond just the tag use case but I don’t want to duplicate a content pile this size to have two copies. So, I guess this can be considered a feature request to the developers as I can’t imagine I’m the only one with this concern.

What I’m looking for is smarter indexing. Rediscover files when they move (they’ll still have identical content after all) and continue to maintain the same DT tags and other info. Given all the historical discussions on DT as a finder replacement it seems clear a large number of users do not wish to maintain two copies of files that are in DT yet there are significant limits today around using DT as the single repository. Perhaps this could be a extra cost plug-in or licensed on a capacity basis…

I will likely purchase it for email archiving regardless but I am hoping overtime it might evolve to satisfy this other use case.

(Regarding Dropbox and corporate policy, it does violate ours but we will be officially allowed to use Box corporate accounts this month so that would be the ideal supported vendor for my purposes). I also am sure I’m not alone in using Dropbox in a corporate environment. Almost any corporate Mac user has admin rights and tends to have more discretion how they use their tools than the typical Windows worker.

That’s a helpful update. With that understanding, I’d mention that it is OK inside of DEVONthink to move indexed documents around between groups and use DEVONthink’s See Also & Classify features to suggest groups for your documents. I think that’s the feature you are also looking for. Just be aware that by doing so then the way indexed documents are organized in folder hierarchies in the file system and the way they are organized in your group hierarchies in the database(s) will be different. Also, if you move documents in your folder hierarchies then DEVONthink will lose track of where they are and will no longer display the content.

I suggest reading some of the advice that Greg Jones has posted here regarding managing indexed documents.

I’ve used Box with DEVONthink more than Dropbox and have had no problems. Though the Box Mac client itself is somewhat flakey and tends to randomly disconnect individual local folders from the main Box repository so that they no longer sync with the cloud.

But realize that it is not.

Remember, that DEVONthink is a document / knowledge management app, not a file organizer, at its core. And it’s not a trivial matter either. Being intimately connected to the filesystem comes with a price and there are technical issues specific to the underlying database’s needs to consider.

One day we may advertise our software in this manner, but we don’t, and we won’t until we find a satisfactory solution that performs seamlessly and reliably.

This is exactly the problem I have with the current architecture. I want to be able to re-organize the underlying files without impacting the indexing in DTP. The reason why is that I use Dropbox on the iPad and iPhone to be able to review materials while traveling. Periodically I’ll need to re-arrange the content in Dropbox - archive old things, change hierarchies to be able to get to something without having to drill down 10 folders deep etc and I don’t want this to break the content I have indexed in DTP.

Technically what I’m asking for is DTP to store a hash for each file to uniquely identify it (preferably based on content but I could live with not being able to rename them) so that when I move it and re-index the new location it realizes that it has already seen the file and simply updates its link to it.

Yes, I understand it is not a finder replacement. That is one reason why I’m not willing to use it as a single repository and force it into being one.

What I’m suggesting is that perhaps it may need to evolve, otherwise it requires users to either duplicate their entire content library or forego mobile access using broadly used services like Dropbox. Maybe I’m still not grasping all the nuances but that doesn’t seem like a good long term bet to me. I haven’t tried the mobile app yet but I noticed one of the reviewers complaining about the same lack of Dropbox integration.

One key use case for me is being able to send an attachment when on the road. Couldn’t tell for sure if that would be supported with the DT app.

Each record already has a unique ID but that’s not the problem.

The major problem is filesystem notifications and the overhead that can be involved with this. Polling the system is inefficient and receiving notifications can still be terribly problematic. Remembering that we have to consider worst-case scenarios not ideal ones. imagine someone decided to move the contents of their indexed (and very full) Documents folder. Consider the ramifications of having to update all those indexed records (because, again, this is not attached to the external filesystem - it is a map of it.) The move could be anywhere on the machine so there would be a ton of “discussion” between the filesystem and DT. Chatter costs time and resources. Then they decide to move those files again… and again. Sure a simple change in a group of files would be easier but it has to scale and this doesn’t. (And nobody would be happy with the amount of beachballing you’d see as DT changed thousands and thousands of records.)

So while it seems like an “easy” fix, it is not a trivial matter. (And if it was, you bet we would have done it a long time ago.)

I’m fine with a manual re-index rather than real time upkeep but that may be something relatively few users would be ok with.

But point well taken the number of users that want the feature with that condition might just be me.